IBM has a new open client offering that runs on Linux, Microsoft Windows and, later this year, the Apple Macintosh, and which is supported by services from IBM, Red Hat and Novell.
Customers will be able to select technologies and applications from IBM and some of its business partners.
These include IBM productivity tools that support the Oasis Open Document Format, the Firefox Web browser, Lotus Notes and Lotus Domino, Lotus Sametime and IBM WebSphere Portal v6 on the Red Hat Desktop Linux suite, and the Novell SUSE Desktop Linux.
"This is a cross-platform, open-client offering that is built on top of the Eclipse rich client platform. It combines a number of recently announced Lotus products, such as Notes and Sametime, as well as services," Adam Jollans, IBMs worldwide open-source strategy manager, told eWEEK.
IBM has itself deployed an open client solution internally that is built on many of the same components it is making available to customers with this offering.
The new services are based on the best practices it learned from that internal desktop deployment, which includes Lotus collaboration software products running Red Hats Enterprise Linux Workstation, he said.
The services in this new offering include capabilities for desktop management support and application migration, and are aimed at helping customers pilot, implement and gain value from what Jollans describes as "security-rich and reliable Linux and open standards-based solutions."
The operating services will be provided by Linux distributors Red Hat and Novell. This new client offering is available immediately and is priced based on customer requirements, he said.
The goal is to offer choice to customers, such as those who are already using Lotus Notes, Domino or Sametime, but also have a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. Many of them are currently weighing a move to Windows Vista and Office 2007 and looking at all the associated costs.
"This lets them take a user-segmentation strategy based on the specific roles staff play and the work they do, allowing a subset of them to move across to a Linux environment," Jollans said.
"It also gives them the opportunity to relook at the applications they have, on which platforms they run, and if they can use those on the other platforms supported by this offering."