If a press release can be believed, IBM is chasing the business desktop productivity market again. Not with hardware, but with something called the “Open Collaboration Client Solution.” Kicking off IBM’s Lotusphere conference in Orlando this week, the announcement suggests the lords of big iron have their eyes on your PC again, only in a nicer, more open way. The release begins:
“IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it will offer an integrated Open Collaboration Client Solution with support for Ubuntu, a Linux-based operating system from Canonical Ltd. that is especially popular for desktops, laptops and thin clients.Showing strong momentum around its IBM Lotus Notes 8 and IBM Lotus Symphony-based Open Collaboration Client Solution, IBM also announced a new agreement working with Red Hat targeting small and medium-sized enterprises, and momentum in the Open Collaboration Client Solution powered by SUSE Linux Enterprise from Novell that was announced in August 2007.”
Later in the release comes this zinger:
“IBM’s Open Collaboration Client Solution is … personal computing software that is based on open standards, providing businesses with a cost-effective and security-rich alternative to Microsoft desktops.”
Ouch! Those of us who remember those simple green character-mode command-line days (and the great keyboards that came with them — where are they now?) might be excused for uttering a snicker or two at the thought of IBM attacking Microsoft for being closed and proprietary. But times change, and as noted in Friday’s post, IBM has adopted open source underpinnings for many of its key products. Two additional thoughts:
- Just how open is the “Open Collaboration Client Solution?” The release only mentions open source once, referring to the “open source Eclipse Rich Client Platform” on which Lotus Expeditor is based, Expeditor being the application framework for this solution, as near as I can tell from the release. “Open standards” is used three times, without referring to any specific standard, tool or application. Not counting these four uses, the word “open” appears 22 more times in the release. The Open Collaboration Client Solution components list begins with IBM Lotus Notes. The last time I checked Notes was not an especially open or even standards-based application. The point here is that simply throwing the word “open” at prospective customers does not an open solution make. It would be a shame if the old IBM tradition of marketing FUD suddenly took on a new “open” look.
- The other comment is that in Friday’s post, I gave credit to IBM for knowing how to market open source. And they do — just not in this press release, which was a model of marketing obfustication. I guess I’ll have to wait to download the whole OCCS to see what it really can do. And that will probably happen when IBM decides to bring back those great keyboards in the name of open standards. Don’t hold your breath.