IBM Lotus partners to enter VDI market

Lotus, Virtual Bridges and Canonical have teamed up to offer virtual desktops as a cheaper, licence-free and carbon-friendly Microsoft alternative.

IBM, Virtual Bridges and Canonical have today announced general availability of a virtual Linux desktop, running Lotus collaboration software and Ubuntu operating system (OS).

IBM and its partners are claiming significant savings for companies with a large user base using the new bundle, compared with Microsoft desktop software.

It estimated organisations cost save in the region of $500 to $800 (337 to 540) per user on software licences for Microsoft Office, Windows and all related products; avoid costs of around $258 (174) per user on upgrading to Windows Vista and Office 2007 supported hardware; and slash as much as $145 (98) per user out of power bills.

The product set out equally grand claims in respect to IT services, with 90 per cent savings on desk side PC support; 75 per cent on security and user administration; 50 per cent on help desk services such as password resets and 50 per cent for software installations, which would be replaced by software publishing.

Savings are delivered using a virtual login on a Linux-based server configuration, running IBM's open standards-based Lotus email, word processing, spreadsheets, unified communication and social networking software to any laptop, browser, or mobile device.

Virtual Bridges has provided its Virtual Enterprise Remote Desktop Environment (VERDE) to run Canonical's Debian-derived Linux desktop OS, Ubuntu and IBM Open Collaboration Client Solution software (OCCS) based on IBM Lotus Symphony, Lotus Notes and other Lotus applications.

IBM said the offering is a culmination of work with partners to target Microsoft desktop alternatives and would now be a key component of its financial services front-office transformation portfolio, as well as part of the IBM public sector industry technology framework.

Roy Illsey, senior research analyst at Butler Group told IT PRO the entry of IBM and partners into this market would ensure they weren't "behind the curve" when 2009 pilots turned into full deployments in 2010 or 2011.

But he added: "I think the comparison with Microsoft is too narrow a focus, because it could easily change its licensing. And Microsoft's done a good job of building a good ecosystem around it and appearing more open than before.

"There's a bit more convergence of thinking around how client-side virtualisation will work, but there's bigger cost savings around IT management and power to be had. VMware's changed its approach to VDI [virtual desktop infrastructure] recently, but I'd say it's Citrix's market to lose."

IBM said standard pricing for a 1,000-user VERDE deployment would be $49 (33) per user. UK-specific pricing was not available at the time of writing.

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