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IBM Challenges Microsoft with Sametime for Linux

In a move clearly aimed at Microsoft, IBM announced it has ported its enterprise instant messaging client to run atop Linux on the desktop and plans to have a Linux server product out next year.

To date, Lotus Sametime has only run on Windows-based clients. But the release of Sametime 7.5 for Linux later this month will change that.

"It's all about choice...[Sametime on Linux] is for all the people considering Linux [as a desktop operating system]," said Adam Gartenberg, offering manager for real-time and team collaboration in IBM Workplace and Lotus Software, in an interview.

Although IBM has been vociferous in its support of Linux over the past several years, it just recently began delivering key client technologies on desktop versions of the platform. For instance, in July, Big Blue began shipping a Lotus Notes client for Linux.

Now, the second major cornerstone of IBM's enterprise collaboration strategy, enterprise instant messaging, will attempt to sweeten IBM's Linux collaboration message.

"With IBM Lotus Notes for Linux and now, Lotus Sametime support for Linux, all of an organization's key collaborative business applications can run in a 100 percent Linux environment," Ken Bisconti, IBM's vice president of Lotus software products, said in a statement.

While Linux use is growing inside data centers -- especially as a replacement for larger, more expensive Unix deployments -- to date, Linux has made precious little headway on users' desktops. IBM hopes to use availability of its mainstream enterprise clients on the platform and Linux's low cost for initial deployment to leverage its way into small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) -- prime market territory for Microsoft's most recent product pitches.

According to IBM, Lotus Sametime support for Linux will be rolled out in two phases. Phase one, the Linux desktop client for Lotus Sametime, will be delivered within 30 days as Lotus Sametime 7.5. Support for the Linux server is expected in the first half of 2007.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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