Lotus unveils cloud strategy, mobile integrations

Lotus unveils cloud strategy, mobile integrations

IBM/Lotus Monday began framing its cloud strategy around Notes/Domino and unveiled deeper support for BlackBerry devices on the 20th anniversary of the platform's introduction.

The company also pegged March as the timeframe to ship Alloy, formerly code-named Atlantic, an integration of Notes and SAP Business Suite that brings SAP data into the Notes collaboration environment.

The announcements came at the company's annual Lotusphere conference.

Lotus Software General Manager Bob Piccian opened his first Lotusphere since taking the reins of the company early last year and said Lotus Software is on a roll with 16 quarters of consecutive growth. IBM will report its latest earnings today.

Picciano said the word of the day was "resonance," citing its properties in physics and its constructive and destructive qualities. "When it is working at its full potential it will absolutely shatter Windows," he said to applause.

But Picciano said his focus was not on rivalries but on the Lotus faithful, and he individually brought Coca-Cola, NetJets and HSBC on stage to detail their collaboration platforms. (Compare collaboration products.)

Picciano then began to introduce a series of improvements across the product line and announced that the company was renaming its Bluehouse group of online services to LotusLive.

While the plan was short on details, Picciano sketched out a framework.

LotusLive will roll out throughout 2009, and Lotus plans various versions and bundles of LotusLive branded collaboration and social software tailored for certain markets and users. The services also will be sold a la carte. Lotus did not announce pricing.

The first version of LotusLive is called Engage, which will ship before the end of March. Engage includes LotusLive Web meetings; my network; activities; instant messaging; files for storing and sharing documents; forms; and charts.

Lotus also plans to integrate its on-premise tools with the LotusLive services via plug-ins.

The marriage of desktop software and services matches the model that rival Microsoft is building with its software plus services strategy under chief software architect Ray Ozzie, who invented Notes.

Lotus also announced that business partners, LinkedIn and Skype would integrate their applications with LotusLive services.

Lotus also moved to boost mobile support across Notes/Domino 8.5 and other Lotus collaboration software by unveiling a slate of integrations with Research in Motion's BlackBerry device.

On Wednesday, the company plans another mobile announcement  that will bring real-time Notes replication to the iPhone via support for the ActiveSync protocol in Lotus Notes Traveler.

Jim Balsillie, CEO of RIM, detailed new capabilities coming to the BlackBerry including mobile access to Lotus Symphony documents based on the Open Document Format. The support, which will roll out before the end of June, will eventually include spreadsheets and presentations. Also in that timeframe, BlackBerry will add support for IBM Lotus Quickr, a platform for storing and sharing documents. In the second half of this year, support for IBM Lotus Connections, a collection of social software, will be added to the BlackBerry platform.

On the development side, the BlackBerry platform will support the new XPages capability of the Domino Designer, which will allow developers to write applications that run on both BlacBerry devices and the Web. The two also announced that IBM Lotus Sametime is now compatible with the Blackberry Storm.

Lotus also said its joint software development project with SAP, code-named Atlantic, would ship in March under the name Alloy. The software connects the Lotus Notes environment with SAP Business Suite and includes four capabilities: reporting, leave management, travel management and workflow decision management.

The software is similar to a partnership between SAP and Microsoft that produced Duet, an integration of Office and SAP software.

Lotus also announced that it will add a wiki service to Lotus Connections.

Lotusphere runs through Friday.

"There are lots of incremental enhancements," said Guy Creese, an analyst with the Burton Group.

IBM claims momentum for Lotus Notes

Lotus Notes gets a makeover; Symphony beta released

Gartner: Exchange's lead over Notes actually getting bigger

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