(PresseBox) (Armonk, NY, )Nearly One Million Beta Users, 24 Languages, Web 2.0 Extensions, New Technical Support Services for Enterprises
Open Document Format (ODF) comes of age today as IBM (NYSE: IBM) announces the commercial-grade, general availability of Lotus Symphony (http://symphony.lotus.com/...), a suite of free, ODF-based software tools for creating and sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
This announcement affirms IBM's commitment to evolving office productivity software from static, financially draining software to a dynamic, cost-effective tool that allows businesses to invest in more innovative pursuits.
While Lotus Symphony remains a free, easy download from the Web with free online, moderated support, IBM is also announcing fee-based services to support the needs of large organizations. This optional service, IBM Elite Support for Lotus Symphony 1.0, delivers unlimited remote technical support at a level consistent with other IBM software products via an annual subscription to IBM's Passport Advantage or Passport Advantage Express volume licensing programs.
Lotus Symphony could save a company with 20,000 employees $8 million in software license fees or potentially more than $4 million in software renewal fees. If it chose to switch to Symphony for only half of its employee population, it could still save several million dollars in license or renewal fees, even if it subscribed to IBM's Elite Support services at $25 per user for 1,000 employees.
Launched in September 2007, Lotus Symphony has been downloaded by nearly one million individuals in an open public Beta program. Lotus Symphony is a truly global product, available in 24 languages, developed by a worldwide team anchored in Beijing, China, and improved through the community of individual users on the Symphony Web site.
"Major technology vendors are lining up to support ODF -- even those previously opposed to it," said Steve Mills, SVP of IBM Software. "Symphony -- backed by enterprise customer support services -- is ready for business."
A growing number of businesses are considering decisions to renew their Office licensing agreements, and move up to Office 2007 and Vista. Lotus Symphony 1.0 provides a timely and cost-effective alternative tested by nearly one million people worldwide and backed by IBM.
Plugging Into the Power of Web 2.0
Another noteworthy benefit of Lotus Symphony is aligned with Web 2.0 -- the newest Internet technology -- not the fading era of the personal computer. In the spirit of Web 2.0, Lotus Symphony individual users have the ability to influence the development of the software through feedback on the Symphony site, much the way that content is continuously revised and updated through Wikipedia.
More importantly, IBM offers a set of powerful, open APIs for extending Lotus Symphony with a wide range of plug-ins -- including Eclipse and Universal Network Object component model and others. This can empower business people to harness powerful business processes such as enterprise resources planning and customer relationship management directly from their desktop. Companies and governments can integrate Lotus Symphony tools into their custom applications and connect to myriad data sources that allow individuals to work in a single view while presenting and updating data from multiple sources instantly.
IBM is offering a free developer toolkit on the Symphony site that enables individual users of Lotus Symphony, as well as independent software developers, to create plug-ins, or software adaptors, and composite applications, or mashups. These can transform static documents into living information streams capable of managing primary business functions such as shipping, sales and fulfillment.
The three core tools comprising Lotus Symphony -- Lotus Symphony Documents, Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets and Lotus Symphony Presentations -- handle the majority of office productivity tasks that most people perform. Quick reading reference cards and online tutorials on the Lotus Symphony Web site show how easy it is to transfer documents between Symphony and Word, PowerPoint or Excel.
Symphony Provides a Foundation for SMBs
In a related development, Lotus Symphony is being extended to small businesses within a new turnkey collaboration product called IBM Lotus Foundations (www.ibm.com/...), commercially available today. Lotus Symphony will serve as the office productivity software within Lotus Foundations, which also includes Lotus Notes and Domino mail, file management, directory services, firewall, back-up and recovery, anti-virus, and anti-spam features. Lotus Foundations is part of a broad IBM initiative code-named "Blue Business Platform" to simplify information technology for small businesses.
Local IBM Business Partners are the primary route to market for Lotus Foundations. A variety of third parties, such as Linux distributors, media companies and IBM Business Partners from North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region are offering Lotus Symphony either as a free, standalone download off the Web or for sale with customized applications.