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Big Blue targets Russia with OpenReferent PC project

by Stuart Wilson, Thursday 6 March 2008

IBM has teamed up with Austrian Red Hat software distributor VDEL and Polish distributor LX Polska to develop Microsoft-free PCs loaded with open source software for the Russian market. The surprise move from Big Blue is reported to be in response to growing demand from large accounts in the Russian market.

The PCs will use IBM’s Lotus Symphony software based on the Open Document Format. This software is a rival to Microsoft’s Office Open XML document format. The PC hardware will be developed by VDEL and LX Polska’s partners.

Russia is emerging as a key battleground for global vendor giants as the country rolls out large-scale computer networks and demonstrated a healthy demand for IT infrastructure.

IBM, which sold its PC business to Chinese giant Lenovo, claims that the new Linux-based PC line-up, which is called Open Referent, has the potential to cut desktop computing costs for buyers by up to half.

VDEL, a services distribution company headquartered in Vienna, Austria, has signed an OEM software agreement with IBM and IBM distributor LX Polska to offer the new Open Referent desktop document software solution embedded with IBM Lotus Notes, IBM Lotus Symphony and Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop.

Earlier this week, according to a statement from VDEL, 25 Russia-based CIOs gathered in Moscow with IBM and their partners to hear details about the new OpenReferent offering.

“This offering is important because it’s a secure and cost-effective Microsoft desktop alternative,” said Kevin Cavanaugh, VP, Lotus Software, IBM. “It’s for organisations in a key emerging market; and it’s another example of IBM’s OEM strategy paying off for our customers and their customers."

Cavanaugh added that the offering comes as a response to requests from customers that they need an alternative offering to Microsoft that includes all the components - operating system, e-mail, calendaring, office productivity tools, and document management.

”OpenReferent is a highly competitive alternative to Microsoft offerings for large organisations,” said Oleg Churko, Director of Research, Institute for Information Security, Minsk, Byelorussia. “Taking into account the unmatched security offered by the Linux platform, it will set a new standard for document management. We are also very happy the IBM is again taking the lead in offering full solutions based on open source, while mounting a real challenge to Microsoft in this arena.”

Aleksandar Spagnut, Director RusHotel from Moscow, Russia, added, “We are extremely excited that we finally have an alternative document management offering to Microsoft based on Open Source that fits our needs - collaboration of multiple offices in large territory, information security, scalability and, last but not least excellent price and performance. We are already starting to implement this and are happy that IBM is again taking the lead in providing a total solution for the small and medium-sized market based on open source.”

”Today’s agreement with VDEL further expands IBM’s commitment to providing customer choice through Linux, from the server to the desktop,” explained Inna Kuznetsova, cross-IBM Linux executive. “This agreement will deliver a powerful suite of Lotus products, coupled with Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop, so that businesses in Russia will now have choice and an alternative to Microsoft.”

Based in Warsaw, Poland, LX Polska is a LOGIX Company, IBM premier business partner and authorised Red Hat distributor of e-business IT solutions.

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