IBM’s Server-centric Software

NYTimes writes about a new offering by IBM:

The I.B.M. offerings include new Lotus Workplace software for PC’s and hand-held devices, but most of the critical software resides on server computers in corporate data centers. Workers can tap into their e-mail messages, calendar, work group and other software using a Web browser. The approach harks back to a low-cost model of computing – known as “thin client” computing – promoted in the late 1990’s by Sun Microsystems and Oracle as an alternative to Microsoft’s hefty desktop programs.

A worker using the Workplace software by I.B.M. can still run Microsoft Office programs. But I.B.M. also offers alternatives, built on free software from the open source project, including a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software.

The Workplace desktop, I.B.M. says, promises to deliver improved security and cost savings of up to 50 percent over the Microsoft desktop suites. Since central control resides in the server software, I.B.M. says, it is easier to manage changes and updates, and eliminates the possibility of a desktop computer user inadvertently spreading a computer virus.

The I.B.M. products will be marketed to corporations, which will be charged for the server products. The client software is included, with one tailored for use only with a Web browser, and another with programs like a word processor and spreadsheet. I.B.M. plans to charge a $2 monthly maintenance fee for each user of the office suite product, called Workplace Document Management.

The strategy also makes it possible for corporate documents or messages to be retrieved with all kinds of devices. For example, a program for sharing information for work groups could be written on the server software, which would automatically present the information in different formats for PC’s, hand-held devices and cellphones.

Adds eWeek:

The company is living up to its promise of delivering “middleware everywhere” by shrinking its core middleware technology down to run on devices and other platform, according to company officials at a kickoff event here.

The new model supports the management, provision and deployment of business applications and data from a central server to clients ranging from PCs to PDAs, cell phones and shop-floor terminals. Enterprises would get the rich functionality of PC software from applications deployed via the Web, IBM officials said.

The model also extends applications to virtually any client a customer chooses, as the open middleware is designed to support clients running Windows, UNIX and Linux, as well as operating systems for wireless and embedded devices such as Symbian. Support for the Mac operating system will be available later this year, company officials said.

Much of this new software model will center around IBM’s fledgling Lotus Workplace messaging and collaboration suite. Two new Workplace products were announced as part of the new software model launch: IBM Lotus Workplace Messaging and IBM Lotus Workplace Documents.

Both offerings are delivered through Workplace’s new rich client platform built on the Eclipse framework. The new applications will allow organizations to centrally deploy and manage messaging and document management function to the most appropriate client or different types of users, while providing a rich client experience, IBM officials said.

Workplace Documents will provide a centralized location for users to create, import, edit and save rich documents, presentations and spreadsheets, officials said. also has an article on this topic.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.