IBM Signs Up 100 Vendors for ‘Workplace’

One hundred independent software vendors (ISVs) have pledged to use software under the umbrella of IBM’s Workplace, a direct competitor to Microsoft .NET. Both are attempts to move PC-centric productivity software onto a network. The company did not say exactly how much of the software that falls under the Workplace umbrella the ISVs will be using.

At the same time, IBM also launched its Workplace Resource Center to give developers and partners online access to tools and resources for IBM Workplace technology.

“What they’re trying to accomplish is what Microsoft is trying to accomplish today,” said Jonathan Eunice, principal analyst, Illuminata. “They’re trying to make client-based applications as easy to deploy as Web-based. That’s not easy to do. It’s like wanting a car that’s fast and gets good gas mileage, too.”

Workplace Goals

IBM said the strategy is to enable companies to centrally manage business applications and tools across employee devices. That should help companies cut IT support costs as well as build work environments suited to individual employee roles and responsibilities.

So far IBM has some pieces of the puzzle. Workplace includes WebSphere Portal software and Lotus messaging and instant messaging programs. A spreadsheet and text-editing are also in the works.

The company also announced it would be working with Bowstreet, Hyperion and Adobe to develop more pieces of the productivity suite. IBM has laid out a roadmap to fill in the deficiencies, but it remains to be seen whether it will be able to create the technology to fulfill the strategy.

Too Early To Tell

“They have a whole bunch of little pieces under the umbrella,” Eunice said. “This is all good stuff, but it’s early.

“The technical strategy potential provides a lot of significant benefit, if they can deliver,” he added. “The concept is solid, but can they really implement it and will they get third-parties to adopt it?”

IBM’s software suite is platform neutral and will run on Windows, Mac, Linux and UNIX operating environments, which will be a good thing in the long run.

“In the fullness of time, people will be less enamored of Microsoft desktop. Platform neutrality is a good thing, but if you’re a business looking to buy applications, you only care if it supports the platform you use,” Eunice said.

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