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IBM and Novell push out new SLED

A viable Vista alternative?

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IBM and Novell have announced an integrated open collaboration client for SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop that includes IBM Lotus Notes, IBM Lotus Sametime and IBM productivity tools to deliver advanced email and calendar capabilities, unified communication & collaboration and lightweight yet powerful word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation capabilities with OpenDocument Format support.

The client is built on the Eclipse open framework, which makes it capable of supporting business-ready social networking, team collaboration and portal technologies such as IBM Lotus Connections, IBM Lotus Quickr and IBM WebSphere Portal, all of which can easily be added to the user's desktop. In addition, the server components required to support the open collaboration client are also available as one-click install solutions and include IBM Lotus Domino and Lotus Sametime servers powered by SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10.

The companies collectively noted specific benefits for channel partners. VADs can benefit from the one-click installation image that significantly reduces installation, implementation and testing time for customers while receiving sales and technical enablement resources. ISVs can prepare their applications for the open collaboration client bundle with technical resources and best practices from IBM Linux Integration Centers and Novell. Regional SIs and Solution Providers can access technical and sales enablement on user segmentation, pilots, value assessment, application migration, installation, and deployment from IBM and Novell as well, helping customers to experience faster ROI through simplified installation, migration, testing, and deployment. The integrated open collaboration client is now available through IBM and Novell business partners.

The world of Linux has, for the most part, been a server-centric one. Although there have been many attempts to create a viable desktop alternative based upon Linux, these efforts have often run aground for a couple of reasons, namely the lack of device drivers and the lack of parity, desktop productivity and specialized applications. While device drivers are increasingly more available for the Linux faithful, in the commercial sector having to accept substandard productivity applications has ultimately proven to be a larger impediment than previously thought. Happily, significant improvements have been made over the past year in this regard with new releases of OpenOffice and other applications that support the functionality required in a competitive business-oriented desktop offering. With this announcement, we see the needs of the business desktop being addressed at a higher level than past solutions.

The integration of the Lotus desktop technologies with the rich environment already afforded by SLED 10 not only brings together the basic building blocks of an enterprise desktop but permits extending this desktop into existing communication systems, such as Lotus. For larger organizations with existing investments in Lotus technologies, the ability to have the desktop seamlessly leverage these resources is essential. The combination of native support in the open collaboration desktop and the one-click installation on SLED 10 server technology is well positioned to help this particular alternative desktop overcome the shortcomings of past solutions.

For many organizations with less-than-Vista-ready hardware that otherwise has plenty of life or Cap Ex left in it, this latest desktop alternative from Novell and IBM may be just what the CFO ordered. While the off-the-shelf version may not meet the computing needs of every desktop user within an organization, for the general purpose information worker this solution should prove more than adequate to meet the business need. As support for Windows XP and older versions of Office moves from the mainstream, organizations faced with an upgrade choice may well find this solution to be a competitive alternative that extends the existing desktop hardware investment while allowing the organization to achieve a lower acquisition cost for desktop software. By delivering an alternative that allows organizations to forgo the hundreds of dollars for software updates and potentially mandated hardware updates for each desktop, this little Penguin solution might just find a willing customer within organizations that have dozens, hundreds, if not thousands of such desktop systems.

Copyright © 2007, The Sageza Group

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