IBM adds support for a third Linux flavor: Ubuntu

The latest Ubuntu distribution of Linux will support an entire new Lotus office productivity suite from IBM. Red Hat said it will support part of the suite: Notes and Lotus' upcoming Symphony, which is still in beta.

As part of a product introduction today around Lotus Symphony and other members of a new desktop suite, IBM today announced first-time backing for a third Linux distribution beyond Red Hat and Novell's SuSE Linux: namely, Ubuntu, a distribution put out by Canonical, Inc. and also supported by Sun.

Aside from Symphony, a set of free desktop productivity tools which is still in beta testing, members of the suite include Lotus Notes, the Sametime IM and chat program, IBM WebSphere Portal, and three other Lotus desktop products, said Inna Kuznetsova, cross-IBM executive for Linux, in an interview today with BetaNews.

Specific details of IBM's deals with the three Linux vendors for the Lotus software vary somewhat according to distribution, or "flavor," of Linux, according to Kuznetsova.

She reminded us that Novell was the first of the three Linux vendors to get behind the new Lotus suite, with an announcement issued last August around a single click install process for its Linux enterprise Server. Novell intends to provide migration and integration services through partnerships with its value-added distributors (VADs).

But also today, as part of the announcements issued at its annual Lotusphere conference, IBM rolled out a marketing intiative with Novell competitor Red Hat around Symphony, Lotus Domino, and Red Hat's enterprise server and desktop products -- although not around the entire Open Collaboration Client Solution.

Like Novell, on the other hand, Ubuntu -- the new kid on the block -- will support the entire Open Collaboration Client Solution, starting with the release of Notes 8.5 in the second half of this year.

Lotus has not yet set a date for a commercial release of Symphony, a set of productivity toools for creating documents, presentations and spreadsheeets, according to the Kuznetsovia. But she did say twelve Novell VADs are now selling the new Lotus suite worldwide, ranging from Arrow in the US to Avnet in Italy.

Late last year, Novell acknowledged that it is shutting down its long-time inhouse consulting arm in favor of working strictly with outside partners.

IBM has been training Novell's VADs around implementation of the new Lotus suite, Kuznetsovia elaborated.

In terms of IBM's announcement with Red Hat, that particular joint solution will only by sold by consultants who are both Lotus-authorized IBM Business Partners and Red Hat Advanced Business Partners.

Kuznetsovia told BetaNews that IBM will hold off on delivery details about sales and marketing plans for the Ubuntu client software until Notes 8.5 ships later this year.

Aside from Symphony, Notes, and Sametime, other ingredients of IBM's Open Collaboration Client Solution will include Lotus Connections social networking software; Quickr software for team-based collaboration and document management; and Expeditor, an Eclipse-based crossplatform Rich Client Platform (RCP) for developing and deploying applications.

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