To kick off my shot as a guest blogger on InsideLotus, I thought I would share with you some insight into what we are seeing in the marketplace for Linux as a client environment as well as Lotus' response to this opportunity. A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to hit the floor at Linuxworld Boston. This was my first Linuxworld and with our new missions of the Lotus Workplace Project Office and Business Transformation teams, I thought it would be an interesting chance to see how the industry is growing first hand.
Having been in the software industry over 20 years, I find the Linux market quite refreshing. Linuxworld reminded me a bit of some of the Comdexes I went to in the early days of PC Software. Larger players are coming out in force, but there still seems to be a wild west feel and electricity in the air -- there are new fortunes to be made and new companies trying to establish themselves. As I toured the floor, I was on the desktop hunt to see whether Linux on Client was gaining momentum. I was quite pleased with what I saw. Several companies were touting Linux client, and I was impressed with the support and announcements made by Novell, Sun, Redhat and the OpenOffice organization. Sun was announcing a new release of their Star Office suite that looked very slick. One of the issues that we continually run into with accounts and Linux discussions are how they can support their Microsoft macros on Linux. Sun demoed to me some of their new macro translators, and I was very impressed with the progress they appear to have made. Next stop was to the Novell booth, where I got a chance to talk to them about their new desktop environment. It was great to hear Novell folks tell me that they have moved to Linux on the client for all of their employees and they have also moved 8 major accounts over as well. We shared some thoughts on migration methodologies, and I had a good chat with their services teams.
Next stop was the Redhat booth, where I got to take a look at their new desktop that is coming out in association with their Redhat 4.0 release. Redhat is focusing hard on the usability of the environment, and I was pleased with the work that they had done around file system representation and navigation as well as simplifying network connectivity. Not to be derogatory, but they are really focused on taking the Geekiness out of Linux. I fondly recall my days of UNIX shell commands, but in order for Linux on the desktop to gain traction it has to be easy enough for the account rep to download their latest sales presentation from a bad connection in a crappy hotel room on the road.....it has to work in the real world.
Of course, Art Fontaine and Nalu Reddy had our booth hopping. We had the Workplace Client on stage, and there was a massive IBM presence. This was a good show to cut our Linux teeth on for Lotus and Linux, and I felt very positive from the comments I got from other vendors, press and analysts welcoming our presence and our investment in this space....all definitely want us to be successful and feel that Workplace can be a killer app to validate Linux Client directions. To help communicate the strength on our commitment to this space, on Thursday that week we announced an investment of $100M across our software family specifically focused on Linux support. I got to do a few interviews and analyst meeting with Surjit Chana, our new Workplace VP, and I was very pleased with the positive vibes and support that we got from those we talked to.
So I left the Hynes Center feeling very good about our opportunities and the Linux path that we are on. It is still early days, but the pioneers are out there making their land claims and it looks like early adopter customers are willing to start the transition. Always on the technical forefront, I have just put my request in to the support guys to sign me and my diehard machine up for the journey, so there will be another Linux client convert in a few short weeks. I'll try to take some time in future blogs to let you know how it's going.
Till next time.....
Vice President, IBM Software Services for Lotus