IBM and leading Linux distributors Canonical/Ubuntu, Novell and Red Hat will join forces globally with their hardware partners to deliver Microsoft-free personal computing choices with Lotus Notes and Lotus Symphony in the one billion-unit desktop market worldwide by 2009, the companies announced.
Citing shifting market forces and the growing demand for economical alternatives to costly Windows and Office-based computers, the four leaders say they sense an ideal set of circumstances allowing Linux-based desktops to proliferate in the coming year. Linux is far more profitable for a PC vendor and the operating system is better equipped to work with lower cost hardware than new Microsoft technology, they said.
"The slow adoption of Vista among businesses and budget-conscious CIOs, coupled with the proven success of a new type of Microsoft-free PC in every region, provides an extraordinary window of opportunity for Linux," said Kevin Cavanaugh, vice president for IBM Lotus Software. "We'll work to unlock the desktop to save our customers money and give freedom of choice by offering this industry-leading solution."
The four leaders are working with their local business partners in markets around the world to build and distribute a pre-loaded PC offering that features IBM's Open Collaboration Client Solution (OCCS) (http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/lotus/library/occs-overview/) including Lotus Notes, Lotus Symphony, and Lotus Sametime; the Linux operating system of each distributor; and software applications and installation services from the local partners in each market. The final product will be branded by the local IT firms that bring it to market. In addition, customers, independent software vendors (ISVs) and systems integrators have the choice of developing applications using Lotus Expeditor based on the open source Eclipse programming model.
Tailored to Specific Industries
These solutions would be tailored to the needs of customers in specific industries and sectors. For example, one type of solution for government buyers may support key ISV applications for document/case management, crisis management, and citizen services. Another version for Banks would account for support for virtual thin clients that bring together the infrastructure and applications along with Lotus social software for branch bank front office and contact center transformation. The emphasis for use in schools would be giving students and faculty a low cost open platform that can capitalize on the strengths of Lotus collaboration and social software. Understanding of such distinct customer preferences has been accumulated from customized, local engagements around the world.
"IBM software and Linux on desktop combined is not just a better price/performance substitute for the Microsoft offering, but it provides a new platform for customers and business partners to add true value by creating tailor-made solutions," said Milan Prohaska, general manager of Austria-based VDEL. "The combined power of Eclipse and Lotus--offered in a stable and secure Linux environment at less then half the cost of the equivalent Microsoft offering--will create a new ecosystem for solution providers and developers, and set new standards in value-for-the-money for the customers."
IBM and its Linux partners are inspired by the success of this Linux-based package locally in both established and developing markets. Austrian IT firm VDEL debuted the first such offering named OpenReferent in Eastern Europe earlier this year with IBM's OCCS on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The reception, particularly in the expansive Russian market, was very strong. Diverse commercial and government organizations such as Russia Post (Russian postal service) and Rushotel have piloted and phased in the new desktops, saving 30-35 percent of the cost of the Microsoft equivalent. VDEL has extended OpenReferent to include IBM Tivoli desktop management and security capabilities as well.
Red Hat Pleased
"We are pleased with the uptake among customers including enterprises, governments, small businesses, and partners adopting OCCS powered by Red Hat's enterprise Linux desktop," said Scott Crenshaw, vice president, Platform Business Unit at Red Hat. "Customers are demanding a Microsoft-less PC, and we have responded with our reliable, secure Linux solution through our top channel partners worldwide, building on the success we've seen in Eastern Europe and other markets."
Novell launched a similar solution based on IBM's collaboration software and SUSE Linux Enterprise with Avnet UK, the largest IT distributor in the United Kingdom, and its local business partners.
"Novell is excited to partner with IBM to drive desktop innovation and deliver the open collaboration client solution to enterprises worldwide," said Roger Levy, senior vice president and general manager of Open Platform Solutions at Novell. "As the best-engineered and most interoperable Linux from the desktop to the data center, SUSE Linux Enterprise is a strong fit for IBM. The unique combination of IBM's Lotus software powered by SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop enables enterprises to strengthen security, improve flexibility, and dramatically lower costs compared to Vista. In addition, deployment is made very easy with a seamless one-click installation feature."
IBM's Solution Growing in Popularity
The popularity of IBM OCCS on each Linux variant has grown dramatically in the past year. Thousands of people are working today on OCCS-powered Linux PCs across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. In North America, public school systems, local governments and IT firms such as the Government of Quebec Ministry of service, CSS Corp. and IBM itself rely on OCCS. In Europe, customers include Radbound University in Netherlands; Constructora San Jose of Spain; and Dotriver in France, among others. In the eastern hemisphere, Safran Aerospace of India, SMB Outsourcing Park of China and Kennards Hire (manufacturing) of Australia are among the growing legions of MS-free advocates.
Canonical, which sells subscription support for Ubuntu, a Linux operating system that scores high marks on usability and "the cool factor," will re-distribute Lotus Symphony via their repositories. Symphony 1.1 will be available through the Ubuntu repositories by the end of August. General availability will coincide with the Lotus Symphony 1.2 release expected to be available by the end of October 2008.
"We are excited about distributing Lotus Symphony from Canonical's online store," said Malcom Yates, vice president, Canonical. "Open Collaboration Client Solution powered by Ubuntu that includes Lotus Notes and Symphony gives us the opportunity to deliver a complete Microsoft desktop alternative to our customers. We look forward to working with our hardware partners to expand their solution offerings."
Value Added Distributors (VAD) and resellers will be offering the IBM Open Collaboration Client Solution to their customers worldwide. For example more than 12 VADs worldwide are offering OCCS powered by SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop from Novell to their resellers. Examples include Arrow in the US and Avnet in the UK. Some, such as VDEL, combined OCCS powered by RedHat with their own applications. Systems Integrators such as CSScorp offer required services.