IBM and Canonical are introducing a cloud- and Linux-based desktop package in the U.S. designed for use on a company's existing fleet of personal computers (PCs) or even low-cost netbooks.
The IBM Client for Smart Work (http://www.ibm.com/lotus/openclient), based on IBM productivity and collaboration software, can help organizations save up to 50 percent per seat on software costs versus a Microsoft-based desktop, in addition to avoiding requisite hardware upgrades, according to IBM. The package allows companies to use their existing PCs, lower-cost netbooks and thin clients.
The new IBM package can be embedded in business processes. It is compatible with SOA-based IT environments and gives people a complete, open, and secure alternative to closed and costly Microsoft desktop software, the company said.
Independent market estimates range up to $2,000 as the cost of migrating to the Windows 7 operating system for many PC users. New PC hardware requirements account for a significant portion of the added expense.
The IBM Client for Smart Work package, launched September 24 in Africa, was initially designed for emerging markets but sparked calls for the solution in the U.S. The U.S. version is arriving in time to help companies avoid the higher licensing, hardware upgrades, and migration costs associated with Microsoft Windows 7.
"If a company is a 'Windows shop,' at some point it will need to evaluate the significant costs of migrating its base to Microsoft's next desktop," said Bob Picciano, general manager, IBM Lotus Software. "American businesses have asked for a compelling alternative that can help them free up PC expenses to use for more strategic collaboration and business transformation projects."
IBM and Canonical expect to enlist hundreds of partners to offer the IBM Client for Smart Work in the U.S. in 2010. The current partner ecosystem includes regional systems integrators, ZSL and CSS Corp; virtual desktop provider, Virtual Bridges, and its distributors, Midas Networks and KalariSys; and several online, vertical industry businesses. IBM is also targeting the education market by collaborating with university faculty through the IBM Academic Initiative.
The U.S. solution includes several open standards-based components:
- Word processing, spreadsheets and presentations from IBM Lotus Symphony, which is a free-of-charge download on the Web;
- Email from IBM Lotus Notes or the cloud-based LotusLive iNotes launched earlier this month, which starts at $3 per user, per month;
- Cloud-based, social networking and collaboration tools from LotusLive.com from $10 per user, per month; and
- Ubuntu, an open platform for netbooks, laptops, desktops, and servers.
Since the IBM Client for Smart Work is based on Eclipse, Linux and open Web standards, it can integrate with any third-party software. This gives companies the freedom to use technologies of their choice, extend their functions and preserve existing investments.
"Canonical is proud to partner with IBM to help open up the American corporate desktop through Ubuntu," said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and CEO of Canonical. "IBM's smart client package running on Ubuntu will allow U.S. organizations the financial freedom to redistribute the costs of expensive software licenses into IT projects that will innovate and drive critical growth."
IBM developed this package based on client feedback and surveys, including a study conducted by the IT analyst firm Freeform Dynamics, commissioned by IBM, which showed that Linux desktops were easier to implement than IT staff expected if they targeted the right groups of users.
"Instead of positioning the IBM Client as a 'drop-in' replacement for the status-quo desktop, IBM is looking to create something better--focused on usability, openness, and security with a path to cloud computing--in market segments that make sense," said Bob Sutor, vice president of Linux and Open Source, IBM Software, who alluded to these customer requirements in his Linux desktop predictions at LinuxCon in September. "Linux as the basis of the desktop is a pragmatic choice and gives a nod to the likely future of the desktop as being open and often virtualized."
"The IBM Client for Smart Work offers university faculty, administration and students a Linux-based unified communication, collaboration and information exchange platform that potentially will facilitate sought after campus synergies," said Jeffrey A. Lasky, professor and chair, Department of Information Sciences and Technologies, GCCIS, Rochester Institute of Technology.
This software bundle can also be extended to cloud and virtual desktop infrastructures using VERDE software from Virtual Bridges. Several companies have already customized the IBM Client as a virtualized desktop offering based on VERDE.
Midas Networks of Austin, Texas is now selling IBM Client for Smart Work software along with Virtual Bridges's VERDE as a hosted virtualized desktop. This software-as-a-service offering looks like a traditional desktop, but the hosted applications permit the users to access their desktops from any network-connected device--wherever they may be.
RealtyBargains.com, providing access to real estate property assessment information, is equipping its agents with the IBM Client for Smart Work starting in January 2010.
"Our partnership with IBM and Canonical will allow us to offer the real estate industry's best agent workspace," said Padma Kumar Nair, president and CEO, RealtyBargains.com.
The IBM Smart Work Initiative
The IBM Client for Smart Work enables you to deploy a desktop strategy that allows you to reduce costs of ownership up to 50 percent and at the same time increase organizational productivity. It is an optimized workspace with built-in productivity and collaboration capabilities that can be embedded in business processes. It is compatible with, and complimentary to, SOA-based IT environments and empowers users with a complete, open, easy to use, and security rich alternative to closed and costly Microsoft desktop software.
The IBM Smart Work initiative is designed to help companies become more efficient by better connecting their workers and business processes. The IBM Client for Smart Work helps achieve these objectives by cost-efficiently connecting the workforce through locally-based collaboration software and across firewalls through the cloud. The solution can be installed and tailored by IBM Global Technology Services and IBM Business Partners for specific job roles by mapping business services to human networking patterns. Essentially, the way people and organizations work can be improved through a combination of collaboration and business process modeling.
For example, the IBM Client for Smart Work can equip the members of a company's marketing, sales and research departments with the means to quickly and efficiently collaborate. Business process modeling (BPM) can show workflows between sales and marketing, but very little between sales and research or marketing and research. Based on expertise residing in those functions and informal networks discovered through modeling, a company could find powerful insights from research playing an important role in sales and marketing efforts. It may turn out that an expert in R&D might be a company's greatest resource for marketing content, but this expertise has to be identified and shared in order to provide the highest value to the organization. Through online communities on LotusLive.com, this kind of insight can be tapped as needed for the benefit of an entire organization.
Companies can use the IBM BPM suite components such as WebSphere Dynamic Process Edition as required. Business leaders and business analysts can discover and explore business-relevant content to help them understand, experience, and accelerate business process management using IBM BPM BlueWorks.
IBM is targeting the IBM Client for Smart Work for a number of markets, including:
- Large enterprises that have segments of employees for whom the PC on their desk is primarily a tool for collaboration, email, browser-based applications, and straightforward office productivity tasks.
- Small- and medium-sized businesses that have discovered initial savings of free or low-cost Web-based email services but have grown frustrated with service outages, advertisements or security concerns.
- Government organizations that want to leverage the Open Document Format for open standards-based office tools and industry-leading collaboration software to lower costs and self-fund mission critical initiatives. For this, IBM offers the package running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
- Education customers that want to rapidly deploy netbooks for smarter classroom initiatives. For more information on how IBM Academic Initiative faculty can access the IBM Client for Smart Work, visit https://greenhouse.lotus.com
- Commuters who want to travel light can bootup their netbooks using a USB stick and then login to a virtual Linux desktop on the cloud using Virtual Bridges's VERDE solution.
U.S.-based customers can purchase the IBM Client for Smart Work from business partners such as Canonical, CSS Corp., Compariv, Mainline, Midas Networks, Red Hat, Virtual Bridges and ZSL. The IBM Lotus client-side package runs on Canonical's Ubuntu operating system, and provides the option to deliver collaboration through the Web in a cloud service model. Also available are alternate delivery models including an appliance using Lotus Foundations and in-premise using Lotus Domino and related collaboration software.
Price varies depending on the configuration and support requirements.