ORLANDO, Fla.-Bluehouse, the software as a service that IBM hosts for companies to connect their end users, was renamed LotusLive Engage and given some quick credibility with the integration of business partners Salesforce.com, Skype and LinkedIn at Lotusphere Jan. 19.
When it officially launches in the first quarter, Engage will be the first of many integrated social network and collaboration services for enterprises, letting users exchange information and meet online to collaborate without security concerns, Sean Poulley, vice president of online collaboration for Lotus Software, told the Lotusphere audience here.
LotusLive will provide businesses with file sharing, e-mail, Web conferencing and online events applications, which IBM delivers over the Internet to customers. LotusLive mirrors many of the capabilities Microsoft offers with its own SAAS Windows Live and some of the utilities in Google Apps, setting up a potentially interesting three-horse race in collaboration SAAS.
LotusLive will also now work within SAAS CRM leader Salesforce.com, VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) giant Skype and business social network LinkedIn, putting IBM's SAAS potentially in front of 400 million users.
Salesforce.com has integrated LotusLive within its CRM applications to improve customer interactions. Such an integration highlights Salesforce.com's willingness to partner with any company offering SAAS and could put an interesting wrinkle in Salesforce.com's relationship with Google.
Salesforce.com already uses multiple Google Web services, including Google Apps, which includes many of the same services that IBM aims to provide with LotusLive, including e-mail, voice and video chat, and collaboration apps.
However, Salesforce.com may have chosen LotusLive because Google Apps lacks a strong, integrated social networking component for businesses, something LotusLive offers through Lotus Connections.
Skype will integrate its voice and video with LotusLive to provide business users with safe, secure collaboration. LotusLive customers will be able to call Skype contacts from their LotusLive contacts.
LinkedIn will let LotusLive users search its public network and communicate and work with others using LotusLive. LinkedIn members will be able to keep track of their professional network via a Network Updates feed.
During a demonstration here, IBM's Ron Sebastian showed a LotusLive dashboard with options for online meetings, a network, activities, file sharing and forums.
Bridging the gap between IBM's on-premises software world and its new LotusLive SAAS world, Sebastian showed how a user could drag and drop a presentation from his or her Lotus Notes e-mail client into LotusLive and upload it instantly into the cloud.
He also clicked to host a meeting from Lotus Notes and was brought directly into a LotusLive meeting environment, adding files from Notes and the LotusLive shared storage system to share with others in the meeting.
These tasks were intended to show how IBM's Lotus collaboration software is becoming a "click to cloud" utility geared for ease of use.