What’s Next from IBM Lotus?
January 20, 2009 Dan Burger
This week the Lotus world is tilted on its axis toward Florida, where the annual Lotusphere conference is under way in Orlando. IBM already announced the general availability of LotusLive.com, the software as a service collaboration and communication system previously known in its beta version as “Bluehouse”; a March release of a joint Lotus Notes and SAP Business Suite product called Alloy; and a deal with Research In Motion that brings collaboration features and developer tools on the BlackBerry platform.
LotusLive is a cloud-based suite of social networking and collaboration services designed for business. The big deal with LotusLive is that it offers Lotus e-mail, collaboration, and Web conferencing services without an up-front investment in IT support or infrastructure. It also needs to be noted that LotusLive uses open Web-based standards that, as IBM is eager to note, easily integrate with third-party applications. Whenever IBM mentions open standards, it infers that “Brand X” commitment to remaining proprietary is reason enough to disregard what Microsoft, I mean Brand X, is offering.
“With LotusLive, we are brining 20 years of experience in collaboration to the cloud,” said Bob Picciano, general manager, IBM Lotus software. “We believe our open, integrated platform will dramatically simplify and improve the way businesses interact with their partners and customers. With this offering we’re taking Lotus to more people, in more places, than ever before.” Picciano became general manager of the Lotus division in April 2008 replacing Michael Rhodin.
The reference to expanding Lotus to a wide audience is tied to a pre-Lotusphere press release that claims the number of global Lotus Notes licenses has climbed to 145 million and that during the past 15 months, ending in the third quarter of 2008, more than 12,000 new organizations bought their first Notes/Domino licenses. For more on this, see “IBM Talks Up Notes/Domino Numbers” in yesterday’s edition of The Four Hundred newsletter.
A year ago, Microsoft sucker punched IBM with a not so coincidentally timed release of its Transporter Suite for migrating Notes and Domino users to the Microsoft side. And even before that the two heavyweights have been dueling with press releases about which company is making the most significant inroads in the collaboration field. Independent sources give the nod to Microsoft, by the way.
Because IBM Lotus and SAP have thousands of mutual customers, including the majority of IBM’s top 100 customers, it’s not surprising to see a product like Alloy ready for market. As collaboration software becomes increasingly business oriented, the benefit of SAP applications being presented on a desktop running Lotus Notes becomes a strong feature. Testimonials from two executives of companies that have implemented beta versions of Alloy backed up the product’s worthiness.
“We expect the new Alloy software from IBM and SAP to help us drive down IT management costs and boost productivity by allowing employees easy access to SAP reports, procurement, data and product life cycle management tools directly from their Lotus Notes e-mail,” said Tom Greene, CIO at Colgate-Palmolive.
“Alloy will enable our senior management immediate access to critical information residing in our SAP system directly from Lotus Notes,” said Claus Qvistgaard, senior director of Global IT at Arla Foods. “This will enable them to improve the quality and timeliness of their decisions, leading to superior business outcomes for Arla Foods.”
Alloy will ship with a set of standard workflows and reports that support SAP workflows, reporting, and analytics, and the use of roles from within the Lotus Notes client. These standard elements may be customized using standard Lotus Domino and SAP tools to reflect a company’s unique processes.
It will be sold by both companies. Additional information can be found at this Alloy Web site.
In anticipation of the quickly expanding mobile computing market, IBM and RIM have combined efforts to bring Lotus collaboration software and developer tools on the BlackBerry platform. The new capabilities include:
mobile access to open document format-based IBM Lotus Symphony documents, and later, presentations and spreadsheets;
IBM Lotus Quickr Web 2.0-based team software to help individuals find, access, share and work with business content such as documents, photos, and videos on their BlackBerry smartphones;
enhanced IBM Lotus Connections functionality for access to activities, blogs, and communities in order to augment the access already available to profiles and tags.
For the developers reading this report, the IBM and RIM cooperation will result in BlackBerry platform support for Domino Designer and XPages. The BlackBerry Java Development Environment (BlackBerry JDE) for Eclipse plugs into Domino Designer, simplifying the development of new software applications for BlackBerry smartphones. Support for XPages enables developers to write a single application for both Web and secure use on BlackBerry smartphones.
IBM and RIM are rolling out these features and tools for BlackBerry smartphones in the coming months. The Lotus Symphony document viewing and the new capabilities for Lotus Connections will be available in the second quarter. The Lotus Quickr team room and Designer offerings are planned for availability in the second half of 2009.
For more information about Designer and XPages, visit http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/products/dominodesigner.