Collaboration suite targets possible Windows 7 customers

Apple isn't the only company hijacking Microsoft's Windows 7 launch. IBM and Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, also announced this week a cloud- and Linux-based collaboration package that they say is cheaper than Microsoft-based alternatives.

The IBM Client for Smart Work is available for Ubuntu and Red Hat for government. It includes Lotus Notes and other Lotus applications such as Symphony and LotusLive.com, an online collaboration suite which lets distributed groups manage activities and tasks, share documents, network, and hold Web meetings with up to 1,000 participants. The companies say that since the package is based on Eclipse, Linux and Web standards, it can integrate with "any" third-party software.

The press release claims that Microsoft shops considering a Windows 7 migration face costs of up to $2,000 for many users, owing in part to added hardware requirements for Microsoft's new operating system. By contrast, IBM and Canonical state that their package can run on companies' existing PCs, as well as low-cost client machines and even netbooks. The companies claim that the IBM Client for Smart Work package can reduce total costs of ownership by 50%. However, specific pricing options (see below) as well as additional professional services muddy the TCO waters. The Standard also asked IBM how the companies calculated TCO, and whether they took into account specific features found in Microsoft's Office or SharePoint collaboration suites, but did not receive a reply.

Interestingly, the IBM Client for Smart Work package was designed for customers in West and South Africa. But IBM told the Standard it is also being sold in the United States after "media, analysts, customers and partners around the world" pressured the company to sell it outside of emerging markets.

When asked about pricing, IBM sent this response:

Option A: A Starting Point

$3 LotusLive iNotes/user/month

(email, calendaring)

$0 Symphony web download

$0 Canonical Ubuntu web download

TOTAL: $ 36 per user per year

Option B: Add Social software capabilities to Option A

$9.75 LotusLive Connections /user/month

(dashboard, file sharing, personal profile

networking, contact management, groups,

project management, instant messaging)

TOTAL: $ 153/user/year

Option C: Typical Solution

$74.5 Lotus Notes/iNotes (email, calendar, todo, contacts), Lotus Sametime entry (Instant messaging, chat, presence awareness), Lotus Quickr entry (file sharing) / user first year, $25.75 maintenance subsequent years

$0 Lotus Symphony

TOTAL: $74.50 per user first year

.....$25.75 per user each additional year for the IBM Lotus software

Option D: Add virtual desktop capabilities

(supports windows and linux guests) @ $49 per user first year. $10/user/year for subsequent years.

Option E: Add Canonical support costs

In addition, IBM is offering professional services from IBM Global Technology Services and IBM Business Partners to aid with installation and other integration tasks.

Sources and research: LotusLive.com, IBM.com, IBM/Canonical press release, Canonical.com, email with IBM Communications.

E-mail Ian at ian@thestandard.com. Follow Ian on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ilamont. Standard updates and asides are available at twitter.com/the_standard and in our newsletters, and you can join our LinkedIn group.

This story, "Collaboration suite targets possible Windows 7 customers" was originally published by The Industry Standard.

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