More on IBM Workplace

Yahoo News has an AP report on server-centric computing in the context of IBM’s efforts to push Workplace:

IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc., which also offers a server-based computing system, the Java Desktop, insist their efforts aren’t a direct stab at Microsoft’s huge and hugely profitable presence on corporate desktop computers.

Even so, the rivals say they hope to win over corporate technology managers who are tired of the cost and security headaches inherent in having hundreds of PCs running Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

In a server-centric computing system, software updates can be pumped to every machine at once, and individual computers can be shielded from viruses and attacks.

“That’s one of the biggest things (information technology) faces today: keeping all of the software on the PC up to date,” said Bruce Elgort, manager of information services for Sharp Corp.’s U.S. microelectronics division. “It’s a nightmare.”

He said he’s “50-50” on whether to have his organization adopt IBM’s new server-based desktop system, known as Workplace 2. Even so, he said, “I’m pretty keen on what they’re trying to do.”

Workplace is accessed over a Web browser, so users can be anywhere, even on a handheld computer or an Internet-connected cell phone. A Macintosh version is due this fall.

Also, unlike earlier incarnations of thin-client computing, users don’t have to maintain a constant connection to the network. E-mails and other work can be performed off-line and synched up with central servers later.

Amy Wohl, who runs the Wohl Associates tech consulting firm, said it will take a few years to gauge the success of programs like Workplace.

Switching isn’t easy for many companies, especially those with internal programs written to work with Office.

“If you’re looking for Office to disappear, that’s not likely,” Wohl said. “If you’re looking for IBM to have a fairly substantial number of customers, large customers, I think that’s reasonable. … It’s going to be really interesting to see.”


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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.