IBM makes two significant overtures to the SMB customer set, offering a SAAS system for extranets and a line of turnkey servers.
introduced a software-as-a-service offering and line of servers designed to
serve the multimillion-vendor SMB market at its 15th annual Lotusphere show
Ready now in managed beta, Bluehouse is a platform that provides extranet
services to make it easy for small and midsize businesses to securely
collaborate beyond their organizational boundaries. Businesses can share
contacts, files and project activities, and collaborate with chat and Web
Mike Rhodin, general manager of
Software, said the software system, which is accessed simply via password and
e-mail, will allow typically walled-off SMB users to collaborate with partners.
The Armonk, N.Y., company is still working out user scenarios, but Rhodin
and his team showed a demo of how users can create live files, create graphs,
publish and share them with partners.
To support Bluehouse,
Lotus Foundations, a line of Linux-based small-business software servers
installed on-premises and supported by server technology from
Jan. 18 purchase of Net Integration Technologies.
Lotus Foundations machines and software require minimal technical expertise
and employ "autonomic" tools,
technology that enables a product to "manage and heal itself." The
idea is to let SMBs, which typically have limited or no IT shops, run their
business instead of spending time and resources managing technology.
Rhodin, admittedly taking a page out of Apple
Steve Jobs' playbook from Macworld last week, took the first device from this
line, the laptop-sized Lotus Collaboration Server, out of an envelope to
demonstrate its light, compact nature.
How thin is Apple's MacBook Air notebook? Check out these images.
The server will include the Lotus Domino mail and collaboration server,
directory services, a firewall, file management, backup and recovery, and
office productivity tools. Lotus Foundations will eventually let system
integrators and independent software vendors integrate their new or existing
applications into the Foundations platform.
With Bluehouse and Foundations,
betting on the notion that SMBs need comprehensive collaboration and business
software as much as large companies.
These products should also help
better tap into what Rhodin said was an SMB user base of 64 million users, as
well as compete for market share versus Microsoft's popular SharePoint
collaboration software suite.
Hammering home the collaboration theme, Rhodin also announced a partnership
AG. Code-named Atlantic and created
on the request of thousands of mutual customers of
, the project integrates
Lotus Notes software with
to let users create applications with a Lotus Notes look and feel.
The first iteration, which both vendors will begin selling in the fourth
quarter of 2008, will support
and analytics and the use of roles from within the Lotus Notes client.