IBM Buy Shines Spotlight
on Web Collaboration"> IBMs purchase of Web conferencing vendor WebDialogs on Aug. 22 highlights a growing trend in which high-tech stalwarts and startups alike are vying for pieces of an online collaboration software pie that could be worth billions of dollars. WebDialogs makes on-demand Web conferencing services, and IBM plans to bundle those assets with its Lotus Sametime instant messaging assets. To celebrate the union, the Sametime team will create a joint offering called Lotus Sametime Unite. Such an offering could be a major centerpiece of IBMs push into unified communications, an area where it is competing with Microsoft and Cisco Systems.Click here to read more about IBMs purchase of WebDialogs. "Weve been seeing for the last few years the convergence of collaboration point products into platforms. At the same time, theres this emergence of all of these Web 2.0 tools for collaboration, such as blogs and wikis, which are further fragmenting the market," Driver said. "Youve got Microsoft and IBM, which are folding more collaboration services into their platforms, but youve got loads of startups and other vendors that are providing point collaboration tools." For example, packaged suites such as IBM Lotus Notes and Domino and Microsoft SharePoint and Office arent going away, but they are facing increasing competition from products by Google and Jive Software, and even IBMs own Lotus Connections suite. These suites allow users to work separately or together online and to comment and communicate on their work through discussion threads, wikis and blogs. The idea is to foster greater communication and collaboration in pursuit of more polished work results. Click here to read more about IBM Lotus Notes and Domino 8. GAPE (Google Apps Premier Edition) includes Google Page Creator, an online tool for creating Web pages; Gmail; instant messaging via Google Talk; Google Calendar; and Google Docs & Spreadsheets. Businesses can pay $50 per user to work with these tools, which are hosted on Googles servers as part of the ambitious SAAS (software-as-a-service) model popularized by Salesforce.com. Guy Creese, a Burton Group analyst, said the release of GAPE marked the first SAAS-based content management tool for offline documents, as distinct from the Web-based SAAS content management offerings on the market. In the future, Creese said the public will see an increased blurring of the lines between content and collaboration. "We have, for a long time, been saying there are content management and knowledge management systems, and its now becoming clear that it all mixes together," Creese said. "You live in a workspace where you do store documents, but its also a workspace where you can collaborate. In the long run, we will get to a tuning-dial way of migrating between software in-house and SAAS. Right now, were asking people to choose one or the other," he said. Page 2: IBM Buy Shines Spotlight on Web Collaboration
Though lucrative, Web conferencing and the unified communications category as a whole are part of a broader move toward online collaboration software tools. This market is complex, and further complicated by the emergence of so-called Web 2.0 tools, said Erica Driver, a Forrester Research analyst.