I just have to blog about this one since its been reported virtually (pun intended) everywhere on the WWW.
It appears that Big Blue has announced a partnership with the top 3 Linux distributions (SUSE, Red Hat and Ubuntu) from Novell, Red Hat and Canonical to offer their customers a Windows-free desktop alternative.
Links to the stories:
In my opinion, this has more to do with marketing and awareness. IBM's embrace and support of Linux and open source, where it made sense for them and their customers, is well documented and goes back about 10 years now.
Since 2000, SUSE was the first operational and certified Linux on the IBM System z (aka mainframe). Today, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise enjoys a market share of above 85% in the System z space. Slightly more than a year ago, IBM Lotus announced the Open Collaboration Client Solution (OCCS) with Novell and later with Red Hat. The OCCS is a new suite of collaboration software from Lotus v8. There was even an integrated install DVD of SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 with Lotus Notes 8 from Novell.
Check out this video demonstrating Lotus Notes 8 on SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 SP1 from a year back.
The real news is that IBM sees a window (pun intended) of opportunity where it can capitalize on the slow adoption of Vista. IBM demonstrates to the customers the functional parity between Windows and Linux desktops and introduces the math of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). By helping their clients save on fundamentals of computing (ie OS cost), their clients will have more budget left over to spend of value added software (ie Lotus suite of collaboration software).
The most quoted success for IBM and Novell is Peugeot Citroën and 20,000 desktops moving to SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10. In the Asia Pacific region, we have seen successes in the SMB space with notably references like India's ELCOT and China Meteorological Administration, just to name a few.
So the real question is, will this work? It depends. We know there is potential in this value proposition but there is equally many probable customer scenarios from IT deployment, licensing cost structures to human buying behaviour (ie Toyota is more economical but I WANT a Hummer).
Like the authors from ZDNet who wrote this piece titled "IBM should spend another $1B to sell its Symphony OpenOffice-Linux desktop to the masses", the way to truly engage and win in the consumer desktop space as opposed to the server space, its all a matter of marketing to change user perception. One only needs to look at Apple for a good example. Show us the marketing dollars!!!
As a nod to my good friend and Notes Guru (aka NotesSensei), check out his blog entry where he has skinned his Thinkpad T61 to show his dedication to the cause. Methinks his newly skinned Thinkpad would look even better when placed right next to mine.