BetaNews: IBM debuts beta of Lotus Symphony 4.0 for Linux

 

… The Armonk, N.Y. company’s software is based on code from OpenOffice, and is being marketing as an alternative to Microsoft Office.

Symphony is based on the Open Document Format standard, and includes tools for users to import Microsoft Office and Adobe PDF files into the suite. IBM says this would make it easier to integrate the suite into current deployments. …

… "Symphony was designed to provide freedom of choice and freedom from overpriced commodities," Lotus software chief Kevin Cavanaugh said. "Symphony and Linux are a natural fit for the growing ranks of businesses and individuals who have better things to do with their money." …

Source: BetaNews.com

I haven’t written much about IBM Symphony to date. Symphony’s USP’s are "free"and multiplatform which makes sence and ODF which for some time was the only ISO standard document format . If you’re going to make yet another attempt to concur the desktop at least find your niche …

But this approach is not simply the alternative to MS Office; the way it’s positioned requires companies to also replace the desktop OS with "free" Linux, which complicates things I would say. IBM of all companies should know that enterprises run more than just Office on their desktop machines.

What I find surprising, is that IBM is taking the desktop application route with their suite and not that Rich Internet Aplpications (RIAs) i.e. develop an alternative in line with Google Apps. Although they are most likely working on such an approach , they seem to put all of their effort into creating something similar like Microsoft Office.

Also by emphasizing too much on an alternative to Microsoft Office, the focus is on the productivity side alone, functions such as wordprocessing, spreadsheets and presentations and less on Microsoft’s approach of evolving Microsoft Office into Microsoft Office System since the introduction of 2003 Microsoft Office System and the latest release 2007 Microsoft Office System.

… The 2007 Microsoft Office system includes new and improved application suites, business tools, server platforms, and services. Find sales and technical-readiness information, as well as videos, case studies, podcasts, and demos from partners who are building innovative solutions based on the new platform. …

(https://partner.microsoft.com/40025002)

Sure Microsoft Office 2007 can also be seen and implemented as ‘just another’ productivity suite, but next to that the seemless integration with communication and collaboration tools (inclusing Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007), BI applications and 3rd Party solutions turn it into a very comprehensive platform.

In other terms desktop productivity is something of the 90’s; in todays business it is about communication and collaboration with your productivity tools at the center. This is (becoming) a platform decision.

I also wonder how much time and money IBM is investing in usability, and Accessibility features. And where does IBM Symphony differ from solutions already out there in the market for years (OpenOffice, StarOffice) ?

In summary, business that are considering shifting desktop OS and desktop productivity apps should keep in mind :

  • Productivity Tools are the applications your end users are working with every single day to buy, sell, create or whatever they do to grow the business. Do you provide them with commidity tools or with the best tools possible ?
  • There is a platform decision involved for your users to communicate and collaborate and to provide functions for compliancy and document retention (IBM sells Lotus Notes / Domino, Connections, Quikr, SameTime, websphere, etc)
  • There’s migration involved (IBM has a services organisation with many consultants and engineers)
  • This is not about Office at all…
Peter de Haas
Peter de Haas

Peter is gedreven door de eindeloze mogelijkheden die technologische vooruitgang biedt. Met een scherp oog voor het herkennen van oplossingen waar anderen slechts problemen zien, is hij een expert in digitale transformaties. Peter zet zich met volle overgave in om individuen, teams en organisaties te begeleiden bij het ontwikkelen van nieuwe vaardigheden en het implementeren van innovatieve oplossingen.

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3 reacties

  1. “Except that IBM also has a version of Lotus Symphony for Windows and soon for Macintosh too. So, bang goes your theory, wouldn’t you say?”
    No, what’s the marketshare of MAC OS in business ? Microsoft has Office for MAC which has compatible fileformats.
    My point is replacing the OS has much broader implications.
    Platform, cross platform ..
    “there is no “decision” required if you go with those tools”.
    I’ll keep that in mind next time I sit in on Lotus Notes / Domino migration meeting … To me this is more about the functionality the platform provides, the way it interoperates with hardware (such as)IP PBXs and ISV solutions (i.e. Documentum, LiveLink, etc..) and less about the underlying OS. Xplatform is certainly an edge of IBM over Microsoft, an edge that has not proven itsself to be thé reason for client to switch ..
    And yes Microsoft products are commercial products so server and client licenses are required in many cases.
    IBM is also familiar with licensing and pricing and does so for the majority of its software portfolio .. and professional services
    You’re right that Office System is a markting term (and a poorly communicated / leveraged one). The essence of Office system are the products inside. They are real and called Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, Office Communications Server.
    ” For most of them, Symphony or OpenOffice would do just fine.”
    Who is waiting for IBM’s 3rd or 4th attempt in this space ?
    My point remains, where exactly does IBM differentiate from OpenOffice / StarOffice ?
    OOXML – ‘why they went to such extraordinary lengths to insure that they got it.”
    Microsoft is not the only stakeholder in this game that had to go thorugh extraordinary lengths. If I am not mistaking IBM also did to stop OOXML. With ODF being a (thé ?) key differentiator.
    Now OpenOffice is going to support OOXML, will IBM Symphony ?

  2. >> the way it’s positioned requires companies
    >> to also replace the desktop OS with “free”
    >> Linux, which complicates things I would
    >> say
    Except that IBM also has a version of Lotus Symphony for Windows and soon for Macintosh too. So, bang goes your theory, wouldn’t you say?
    >> There is a platform decision involved for
    >> your users to communicate and collaborate
    >> and to provide functions for compliancy
    >> and document retention (IBM sells Lotus
    >> Notes / Domino, Connections, Quikr,
    >> SameTime, websphere, etc)
    A poor choice of example products to illustrate a “platform decision”, Peter! Most if not all of them are cross-platform!!! So, there is no “decision” required if you go with those tools. You can mix and match between Windows, Mac and Linux quite happily, if that fits your requirements. It’s a far cry from the so-called “Office System” (a marketing term, rather than a technical one) which requires Windows servers and clients (most definitely non-free) coming out of your ears to get the full benefit. And does it not also require multiple CALs per user to access it all?
    Like it or not, the Office tools are commodities now. Only a small percentage of users will use more than a fraction of the capabilities of Microsoft Office. For most of them, Symphony or OpenOffice would do just fine.
    Which is why the OOXML win, was so important for Microsoft, and why they went to such extraordinary lengths to insure that they got it. It will only delay, not prevent the inevitable demise of MS-Office, however. And there will be repercussions for the tactics that Microsoft employed too.
    Cheers,
    – Mike

  3. >> My point is replacing the OS has much broader implications.
    And you have completely evaded my point; Symphony (and OpenOffice) are cross-platform, and therefore, do not require you to replace the OS. And yet you carry on talking as if replacing the OS is the only alternative to using Microsoft office apps. This is blatantly not true.
    Of course, replacing the OS has implications, plenty of them! But “upgrading” from XP to Vista has implications too: such as upgrading – or more likely, replacing – all your desktop hardware so that it’s at a spec to run it! Linux won’t make you do *that*.
    As for the differences between Symphony and OpenOffice, open them up and look at them side by side, and you’ll soon see. (In case you still haven’t got the message, you do *not* need to replace your OS to do this!) Personally, I prefer OpenOffice, as it does a better job of handling MS-Office .doc files. (Symphony is currently based on on old version of OpenOffice, but this will change later this year, I’ve heard).
    >> IBM is also familiar with licensing and pricing and does so
    >> for the majority of its software portfolio
    Sure it does, but you have again evaded (or perhaps, misunderstood) my point, which was about multiple CAL charges *per user*. If you run Lotus Notes, then sure, you’ll have to pay Domino server licence fees, and probably per-user CAL fees too. If you’re running it on Windows servers and clients, then you have to pay additional server licence fees and CAL fees to Microsoft, for the privilege of running the apps that you’ve already paid for. It’s a double-charge! IBM/Lotus at least gives you the option of running your servers and/or clients on Linux, and so avoiding this double-charge. There’s no such option with Microsoft, however; with them its Windows and, therefore, double-charging all the way (to their bank).
    >> No, what’s the marketshare of MAC OS in business ?
    Growing. As is Linux.

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