IBM has introduced a new line of business computers that works on a combination of Linux open source software and the company's own `Lotus Symphony' software, and does not require the use of Microsoft's ubiquitous operating system.
The system, jointly developed by IBM, Virtual Bridges and Canonical, claims significant savings compared with Microsoft-desktop software by amplifying Lotus collaboration software and Ubuntu to a larger user base through virtualisation.
The new operating system facilitates word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet applications based on the open document format while also makes available the IBM Lotus Notes applications.
With 15 on-demand business applications available, the system is also ready for customising and building on current tools, IBM said in a release.
It would offer users a saving of $500 to $800 on Microsoft software licences and an additional $258 per user on upgrading hardware to support Windows Vista and Office, IBM said.
The new system also claims to use less power per unit and reduced power to run the configuration as also reduced air conditioning requirements from lower powered desktop devices.
It also claims saving of 90 per cent on deskside PC support; 75 per cent of security/user administration; 50 per cent of help desk services such as password resets, and 50 per cent for software installations, which are replaced by software publishing.
IBM said the system runs open standards-based email, word processing, spreadsheets, unified communication, social networking and other software to any laptop, browser, or mobile device from a virtual desktop login on a Linux-based server configuration.
''A virtual desktop looks like a traditional desktop but is not limited to a single physical computer. Instead, many virtual Linux desktops are hosted on a server,'' the release said.
''The new Microsoft-alternative desktop is a key component of IBM's financial services front office transformation offering as well as part of the IBM public sector industry solution framework,'' the release said.
''When we look back several years from now, I think we'll see this time as an inflection point when the economic climate pushed the virtual Linux desktop from theory to practice," said Inna Kuznetsova, director, IBM Linux Strategy. "The financial pressures on organisations are staggering and the management of PCs is unwieldy. Today's virtual desktop is delivering superior collaborative software, an innovative delivery method, and an open-source operating system that is demanding clients' consideration," he added
"Today's news builds on announcements through 2008 around delivering Microsoft alternatives in conjunction with our partners," IBM said in the statement.
''IBM services can help roll out this offering, as well as other customised virtual desktops. IBM Virtual Infrastructure Access service helps customers transform their distributed IT architectures into virtualised, open-standards-based frameworks. It provides centralized IT services, and robust application and desktop delivery. It combines hardware, software and services to connect customers' authorised users to platform-independent, centrally managed applications and full client images running in virtual machines,'' it said.
The virtual desktop is now available worldwide and in many languages from IBM or Virtual Bridges. Standard pricing for a 1,000-user VERDE deployment is $49 per user.
IBM's push into non-Windows computing is the latest challenge for Microsoft's core operating system franchise. Revenue from Microsoft's Client division, which derives mostly from Vista, edged up just 2 per cent, year over year, to $4.21 billion in Microsoft's fiscal first quarter, while the overall PC market grew 10 per cent to 12 per cent during the same period.
IBM is offering virtual systems based on the Open Collaboration Client through its Global Services outsourcing and system integration unit.