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June 7, 2011


OpenOffice, ODF: A Collaboration Path

By Larry Walsh

IBM reaffirmed its dedication to open source development by recommitting support to the development of, the alternative productivity suite to Microsoft’s Office and Google Apps. What IBM is really looking to cultivate is the further development of the Open Document Format, which it sees as a potential standard for collaboration across multiple platforms.

“Open source and standards are key to making our planet smarter and improving the way we live and work,” said Kevin Cavanaugh, vice president, IBM Collaboration Solutions. “As IBM celebrates its centennial, we’re actively investing in projects that will help our clients to collaborate in an open manner over the next 100 years.”

IBM is no stranger to Since putting its development and resource muscle behind open source software nearly five years ago, IBM has contributed code and support for and the ODF standard. In 2007, IBM introduced Lotus Symphony, a free on-premise productivity suite that utilized the ODF standard.

IBM’s continued support for comes with a few layers of irony.’s largest patron is Big Blue’s rival Oracle, which acquired the general license rights to the suite through its purchase of Sun Microsystems in 2010. Initially, IBM was a suitor of Sun, but was undercut by Oracle, who swooped in when talks stalled. Had IBM won the bid for Sun, it would have held exclusive rights to, which reportedly has more than 100 million users, is a growing alternative to Microsoft Office. The cost of Office ranges between $200 and $500 per user, depending on the package and license agreement, and that’s a cost many enterprises are looking to shed. is the only openly available free productivity suite that offers comparable features and functionality to Office. Oracle was reportedly looking at ways to leverage OpenOffice in its battles against Microsoft. became a more appealing target for IBM’s support with Oracle giving up rights to the suite to the Apache Software Foundation Incubator, which is fully independent and more focused on code development than marketing.

But IBM isn’t so short-sighted to look at as a means for undermining its frienemy Microsoft. No, IBM is playing long ball with its support for the suite. IBM believes ODF is the more important asset in the suite and wants to see the standard used for a variety of information and collaboration platforms, including instant messaging, email, tweets and microblogging, conventional blogs, mobile services and enterprise business intelligence.

Through ODF – and perhaps through application suites such as – IBM looks to not only expand the use of standards-based collaboration, but also lower the costs and improve the ease of use.

  1. Sep 14 2011

    Wow, this is in every rseepct what I needed to know.

  2. Aug 27 2012

    iron and OS and you’ve got a good value proposition that at least gives an aatirnlteve to the IBM approach and lets hope that Oracle keep alive the stance that Sun were taking with opensource offerings for free and those that wanted to pay for support could this could be a good move for both companies and for DB’s as an appliance ..

  3. Aug 27 2012

    50BVMp ozsivbymvpdc

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