Cant Count Out IBMs Cloud
IBM offered a peek at its cloud computing intentions at Lotusphere 2008 with Bluehouse, a SAAS extranet targeted toward small and midsize businesses. At Lotusphere 2009, the product evolved as LotusLive Engage, a general business collaboration solution with social networking capabilities from IBM's LotusLive Connections suite.Unlike Microsoft's BPOS, LotusLive iNotes is not based on its on-premises Lotus Notes code base, but from the assets of Outblaze, whose Webmail assets IBM acquired last year. The company charges $3 per user per month for iNotes, for a total cost of $36 per user per year. IBM also offers LotusLive Connections, a hosted social networking solution, and the aforementioned LotusLive Engage. Companies that opt to license all of the hosted solutions will pay roughly $15 per user per month, Sean Poulley, vice president of online collaboration for IBM, told eWEEK. IBM is counting on companies using e-mail then opting to use social networking services. "It's unusual that they just buy one of the services," Poulley said. IBM currently has more than 18 million paid seats using hosted versions of IBM's Lotus software. IBM didn't get much attention for its cloud computing efforts until it snagged Panasonic as a customer late last year. The consumer electronics maker intends to migrate more than 100,000 users from Lotus Notes, Exchange and Panasonic's proprietary e-mail solution to LotusLive in its first year of implementing LotusLive iNotes. When Panasonic's implementation is fully complete, it will securely extend the company's e-mail, contacts and address books, as well as social networking software, to some 380,000 seats, spanning Panasonic employees and partners, Poulley said. Gus Bahamondes, director of IT for Panasonic, said his company was looking to reduce its IT costs and to cease managing collaboration technologies in-house. "We did look at various other options on the market, but we came to the conclusion globally that IBM LotusLive had the most integrated solution for Panasonic," Bahamondes said, adding that the solution's flexibility allowed the company to increase or decrease employee seats and deploy solutions across Panasonic's multiple regions.
But it's hard to have a complete cloud computing offering without e-mail, the primary mode of business communications. IBM's cloud computing efforts really went into overdrive in the latter half of 2009 with the introduction of LotusLive iNotes, the company's hosted e-mail solution.