December 8, 2008 While Linux erosion of Microsoft’s desktop dominance hasn’t really reached the mainstream yet, the popularity of the open source operating system has seen a steady increase as variations become more user friendly. Recognizing that rise in popularity IBM, along with its business partners, Virtual Bridges and Canonical has released a Linux-desktop solution that is designed to drive significant savings compared with Microsoft-desktop software by amplifying Lotus collaboration software and Ubuntu to a larger user base through virtualization.

The combined solution includes a virtual desktop provided by Virtual Bridges called Virtual Enterprise Remote Desktop Environment (VERDE); Ubuntu, the worldwide leading Linux desktop operating system, from Canonical; and IBM Open Collaboration Client Solution software (OCCS) based on IBM Lotus Symphony, IBM Lotus Notes and Lotus applications. This solution 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.

From the end user's point of view, the virtual desktop looks like a traditional desktop but is not limited to a single physical computer. Instead of the software and data being saved on a user's desktop, meaning users can access their computers on any network-connected device anywhere they happen to be. Users can access their Linux desktop sessions from not only endpoints running Linux, but Windows and Mac as well. However, from the IT department's view, the difference between virtual and physical desktop is significant. All administrative intervention is done on consolidated virtual machines in the data center through deployment of standard images and when a software update required, the IT manager can do it centrally.

The system is expected to offer significant savings compared to Microsoft-based desktops through elimination of licensing fees for Microsoft Office and Windows, cutting of hardware costs, power consumption savings and deskside PC support. The current Global Financial Crisis just might be the nudge some people need to dip their toes in the open source pool and give Microsoft something to think about.

The virtual desktop is available now in most markets and many languages by contacting IBM or Virtual Bridges. Standard pricing for a 1,000-user VERDE deployment is USD$49 per user with additional volume discounts available.

Darren Quick