A recent change to IBM's internal IT policy has made Firefox the company's default Web browser. The move is a major endorsement of the browser's suitability in large-scale enterprise environments. IBM plans to roll it out to employees on new computers and will encourage its staff of 400,000 to use it on their existing systems.
Bob Sutor, IBM's vice president of Linux and open source software, discussed the company's motives for adopting Firefox in a blog entry published this morning. He says that its transparent development model, strong security, and robust support for Web standards and extensibility have made it the "gold standard" for open source Web browsers.
Sutor contends that Mozilla's efforts have "reinvigorated" the browser market, bringing standards and interoperability to the forefront. He believes that company-wide adoption of the browser will help accelerate IBM's shift towards cloud computing.
"There's another reason we want to get as many of our employees using Firefox as soon as possible, and that is Cloud Computing. For the shift to the cloud to be successful, open standards must be used in the infrastructure, in the applications, and in the way people exchange data," he wrote. "The longstanding commitment of Mozilla to open standards and the quality of the implementation of them in Firefox gives us confidence that this is a solid, modern platform that should be part of IBM's own internal transformation to significantly greater use of Cloud Computing."
Corporate adoption of Firefox has historically been weak because it is difficult to manage and deploy the browser in enterprise environments. The lack of MSI packaging and similar limitations pose some challenges; Mozilla formed an Enterprise Working Group to explore the problem space in 2007, but it hasn't been a high priority.
A number of third-party tools have been developed over the years to simplify certain aspects of organization-wide Firefox roll-outs. One of those tools is the Client Customization Kit (CCK), which was developed by Firefox modification consultant Michael Kaply while he was employed by IBM. Kaply still actively maintains the tool and released an updated version for Firefox 3.6 in March. IBM is using it alongside other tools to ensure that its Firefox adoption plan goes smoothly.
Source: ars technica