IBM Touts 'Open' Office Replacement

IBM is targeting Microsoft Office 2007 upgrades with its new applications package including open source apps and Lotus Notes/Sametime clients

February 13, 2007

3 Min Read
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With IT departments mulling their Vista and Office 2007 deployments, IBM is attempting to step in with an alternative: a software and services offering that will let IT--and employees--choose between Windows, Linux or Macintosh PCs running an array of Microsoft-alternative applications.

IBM has test-deployed its so-called Open Client for Enterprise PCs approach with more than 100 customers and within IBM itself. The software part of the equation is fairly straightforward: a combination of open-source, standards-based (ODF) office apps and Lotus Notes/Domino messaging software. Overall, the software package offers applications for e-mail, instant messaging, Web browsing, social networking technologies and ODF-based productivity software (including word processing, spreadsheets and presentations) that can run in multiple PC environments.

Specifically, software includes IBM Productivity tools that support the OASIS Open Document Format (ODF), the Firefox Web browser, Lotus Notes & Lotus Domino, Lotus Sametime and IBM WebSphere Portal v6 on Red Hat Desktop Linux suite, or Novell SUSE Desktop Linux.The offering also includes a services aspect, in which IBM does an analysis of app usage among a company's user base and fine-tunes access to applications based on user roles and requirements.

While IBM wouldn't be a cost-savings number on its approach, executives did say that enabling customers to move away from--or not have to re-up--new Vista and Office enterprise licenses is a key driver behind the offering.

"We think this is going to be especially interesting to two groups," said Adam Jollans, IBM's worldwide open source strategy manager. "One, customers looking for a Linux client, software and applications and the systems management to run it. And two, companies that want a mixture of platforms, Macs in the design department, Linux thin clients in the front-office--basically the same stack of applications running across all platforms."

Office alternatives are certainly not in short supply these days, most notably Star Office/Open Office and various Web 2.0-based offerings.

But IBM execs said they believed by combining best-of-breed software with a roles-based, service-driven implementation approach would provide enterprises not only with an alternative to Microsoft Office but software better-tuned to their requirements, according to IBM's Jollans.

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