Before I get started with this post, I wanted to let people know that I am working with representatives of other companies to form an Enterprise Working Group for Firefox. The goal of this group will be to work together to document enterprise requirements and either create extensions or submit patches to Firefox to meet these requirements. We hope that anyone interested in Firefox in the enterprise will join us. We’ll be having our first meeting in the next few weeks.
In my previous post I talked about obstacles to the enterprise adoption of Firefox, but it wouldn’t be fair to talk about obstacles without talking about the benefits. We all know the benefits to Firefox users, like tabbed browsing and pop up blocking, so this post is going to focus on enterprise specific benefits. Obviously there are many more benefits beyond what I’m covering here. I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments on this post.
Extensions are a great way to add genuine business value to Firefox. Within IBM, for example, we have extensions like Koala that can be used to automate business processes, or extensions like Tommy! which take our corporate directory to the next level by integrating other services like blogs. We have an extension available that uses the Firefox password manger to enable single sign on to IBM domains. And of course we have the CCK to produce IBM customized versions of Firefox. We have also seen Greasemonkey used to add business value. For instance, one of our support teams uses a Greasemonkey script to prefill fields in a web application that would normally have to be done with every problem report. The result can be seen in real time savings for support calls.
And these are just few. I haven’t even mentioned some of the other extensions that add IBM specific toolbars or enhance our ability to search our corporate directory. So what does this mean for your business? There are probably areas where a simple Firefox extension or Greasemonkey script could greatly enhance the experience of your employees. It’s definitely something to keep in mind.
There are some Firefox benefits specifically because it is open source. You can replace the existing update infrastructure with your own so updates are served from your servers. If you have questions, you can access developers directly. When you open a bug, you can keep up with the status and even choose to fix it yourself. You have access to the source code for debugging problems. You can build your own browser with patches that you want if it comes to that.
By using Firefox, you are encouraging the use of open standards and protocols, and helping to keep the web open.
That’s all I have for now. I know I’ve only scratched the surface here. Please comment as to additional enterprise benefits. And stay tuned for more info on the Enterprise Working Group.