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Lick your chops, Red Hat and Novell, because the owner of the world's second largest network is looking to standardize on one flavor of Linux.

So says Capt. Chris Christopher, a top dog in the Department of the Navy's Program Executive Office for Information Technology, in a recent interview. The Navy has just used a new IT asset discovery system to find what boxes and software are present in its massive network - said to be second in size only to the internet. The survey technology turned up a massive amount of disparate operating systems and, in particular, a bunch of Linux distros.

"We have every operating system that's been developed over the past 15 years, some of which I've never even heard of," Christopher told ComputerWorld. (Did the Navy really make use of BeOS? - Ed)

In addition, the Navy found "that we have a good chunk of Linux out there" and that "it would probably make sense for us to develop standard policy" and pick a preferred Linux vendor.

And so the sirens sound in North Carolina and Utah.

But while standardization can add some consistency to a data center, it can also make a huge buyer too dependent on a single vendor. That's something the Navy has been trying to avoid with its new discovery system, which is meant to translate facts and figures about the Navy data centers into cost-savings.

So far, the Navy has scanned a huge chunk of IP addresses on its groundbreaking - or infamous if you're EDS - Navy Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) and tagged 250,000 systems. The Navy will look to tally another 250,000 systems located all around the globe and use an Oracle database to hold all the information, ComputerWorld reported.

This isn't the first time Christopher has talked up the Navy's IT asset counting prowess. In a riveting comparison between Henry Ford's assembly line and NMCI, Christopher pats the Navy of the back for no longer "repeatedly (buying) applications and licensing agreements it already owned."

The Captain, who seems to fancy himself as quite the IT writer, goes on later in his essay to say that the Navy has taken Sun Microsystems Scott McNeely's [sic] advice and created a standardized data center. The only thing that Christopher failed to realize is that NMCI is really the anti-McNealy idea in that it's the biggest jalpoy on the planet - a hideous customized contraption that would make Ford cry.

That said, we leave you with Christopher's final thought.

"Well, the Navy just took its first taxi, and it’s taking us where we need to go much faster than its old jalopy. The implementation of NMCI has been a tough road, but our perseverance is paying off. As Henry Ford once said, 'Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.' To get to the goal on complete NMCI implementation, we need to attend now to the words of Admiral David Farragut: 'Full speed ahead!'" ®

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