IBM Unveils New Managed Clients

Firing the latest shot in the battle to control client side deployment costs, IBM is extending its middleware to run client side applications. IBM is releasing new versions of Lotus Workplace that will provide collaboration and lightweight productivity tools, while using server-based portal and software distribution technology to manage client deployment. The embedded Micro Edition is currently available for download now, while the PC-oriented Rich Client Edition will be available in Q3.

The goal is not to fire a pre-emptive shot at Microsoft’s upcoming Longhorn, according to Steve Mills, senior vice president and head of the IBM Software Group. Instead, IBM is delivering a more flexible client than previous thin client attempts.

Unlike other client alternatives such as Novell’s Linux-based Ximian and Sun’s Star Office desktops, IBM Workplace is not a cheaper or thinner Microsoft Office replacement, but a collaboration environment based on Eclipse 3.0 and Open Services Gateway (OSGi) standards that encourages customers to use the productivity software of their choice through client side plug ins. IBM announced third party support from Adobe, Siebel, Symbol Technologies, and Motorola.

IBM’s Lotus Workplace is designed to run on multiple operating environments, including Windows and Linux, plus a wide variety of handheld and embedded devices. It repackages functionality from most of IBM’s software brands, including collaboration services from Lotus, presentation services from WebSphere Portal, application services from WebSphere server, software distribution from Tivoli, and client side repository from Cloudscape, the embedded Java database that IBM inherited from Informix. The back end includes a provisioning server that deploys software and replicates content on the fly, providing the means for users to work on line or off. In the next release of the product, additional Tivoli features will be incorporated that will manage the life cycle of components that are deployed on the client.

“IBM is redefining the desktop,” said David Marshak, senior vice president for Patricia Seybold Group. “Instead of the OS, it will be the middleware that delivers the apps.”

About the Author

Tony Baer is principal with onStrategies, a New York-based consulting firm, and editor of Computer Finance, a monthly journal on IT economics. He can be reached via e-mail at


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