IBM, Virtual Bridges and Canonical Offer Ubuntu-based Virtual Desktop
Today IBM announced that it has teamed with Canonical and Virtual Bridges to offer a Linux-based virtual desktop computing environment. With this product, IBM hopes to emphasize and increase adoption of its Lotus collaboration software, as well as promote the use of Linux (Canonical's Ubuntu) by way of Virtual Bridges' VERDE desktop virtualization platform.
The virtual desktop uses IBM's Open Collaboration Client Solution software, and includes Lotus Notes and Lotus Symphony (Symphony specifically uses the Open Document Format). While whether or not including Lotus applications will draw businesses away from purchasing licenses for costlier office/collaboration suites is as yet unknown, the "Lotus" name recognition coupled with the virtualized desktop might garner at least a second, serious, look from businesses wrestling with moving to more open platforms.
The press release cites a number of figures on cost, time, and energy savings from switching to a virtual desktop configuration. While there are savings, these vary by nature, and businesses have to consider how this fits into the larger scheme of things.
That being said, offering virtual desktops feels about as close to a win-win situation as a business can get in at least the initial stages of deciding whether to use open source software more -- or exclusively. Employees can access their work anywhere, and updates and management are central, unified tasks. A complete switch to an open platform can be tested (gradually) through virtual desktop deployments. Nor does it require anything -- ever -- be an all-or-nothing arrangement.
Of course, there are other open source virtual desktop clients available, such as Ulteo's Open Virtual Desktop. For those businesses already familiar with IBM's Lotus products, the IBM/Canonical/Virtual Bridges solution might make the transition to a virtualized, open environment that much easier. IBM says its virtual desktop is available now in most locations and a number of languages, with a standard price structure of $49 per user based on 1,000 users.