IBMs Lotus software division hopes to demonstrate its commitment to lowering customers costs when it unveils a hosted version of its Sametime instant messaging server and another beta of its Notes and Domino server upgrade next week at Lotusphere.
Notes users welcome moves to lower the cost of deploying and maintaining Lotus software, the theme of the user conference in Orlando, Fla.
"Reducing the cost of ownership from the infrastructure standpoint is of high importance," said Ron Meyers, manager of Notes systems at Anixter International Inc., in Skokie, Ill.
Lotus, of Cambridge, Mass., for the first time will offer Sametime as a hosted service, mainly for e-meetings. Customers will maintain their own Lotus Notes systems, but IBMs e-business Hosting service will host Sametime. This will not only lower costs but also get users up and running faster, Lotus officials said.
Also at Lotusphere, Lotus will make the Notes Buddy utility developed by IBMs AlphaWorks group commercially available at a cost of $20 per user license. Notes Buddy uses filtering, graphics and speech technologies to alert users when business- or time-critical e-mail is received. It also lets users read Notes e-mail through Sametime and save instant messages in their e-mail folders.
While AlphaWorks officials said Notes Buddy is only an add-on to Notes and not intended as a substitute, at least one user has little use for her Notes client since adding Notes Buddy.
"You dont have to keep Notes up and running to know you have mail," said Patti Santa, IT specialist at management and human resources consulting company Towers Perrin, in Philadelphia. "You can read and respond to messages, open different folders, and save messages to folders, even receive voice mail, all through your Notes Buddy window."
The fact that IBM is taking more direct control of Sametime and Notes Buddy highlights the belief by many that the Armonk, N.Y., parent company is slowly absorbing Lotus. "Ive never been fond of IBM to begin with," said Santa, adding that IBM has made the Lotus support Web site "virtually unusable."
Others are less concerned. "If they get slowed down in development, their customers will kick them back into shape," said Meyers. "IBM is moving to the tune of what customers are telling them they have to do to survive."