Sun launched a new program this week offering back line support for OpenOffice that is targeted at OEMs and distributors.
The intent is to provide corporate customers with fixes and patches for unique issues and problems that may affect only a handful of customers, or OpenOffice conflict with particular distributions that may not get fixed by the OpenOffice.org community, Mark Herring, Sun’s senior director of marketing for StarOffice and OpenOffice told ZDNet.
Sun is in discussions with the leading Linux distributors including Novell and Ubuntu, and IBM, which launched its own Symphony desktop based on OpenOffice last September. Sun’s role would be invisible to the end user; the OEM or distributor would pay Sun for backline support and extend to their customers who use OpenOffice.
“The significance of this is that it’s a business model change. We think a bigger play for Sun is providing back line support for commercial distributors out there and anyone who wants to OEM the product [rather than] 101 support for consumers,” he said. “Customers get a distribution from Red Hat or Dell and if they get problems with OpenOffice the [vendors]may be able to answer some of those but if you get next level problems, the vendor can reproduce problem back to Sun and we’ll engineer a patch release.”
Sun has offered back line support for its own StarOffice for several years but decided to extend it to OpenOffice distributors as a result of increased customer demand, Herring also said. “It was based on customer demand and distributors said we need someone to stand behind the code,” he said. “This was a natural progression of hearing all that noise. “