What Is IBM LotusLive? SAAS with Great Promise but Confusing Branding

IBM LotusLive is a suite of messaging and collaboration applications IBM is hosting for partners to offer its customers as a SAAS (software as a service) suite. The move opens a new avenue of competition with Micorosoft and Google in cloud computing, but IBM needs to get the branding straight lest it muddle marketing the way Microsoft has with Windows Live and other platforms.

IBM unveiled LotusLive notes Jan. 19 and with that brand change obliterated the amorphous sounding Bluehouse moniker.

What is LotusLive? LotusLive is the brand name for meeting, messaging and collaboration applications IBM intends to deliver to partners, who will in turn put them in front of their customers as a SAAS (software as a service) platform this year, Sean Poulley, vice president of online collaboration at IBM, told eWEEK at Lotusphere 2009 Jan. 20.
IBM demonstrated the first product, LotusLive Engage, which blends social networking, Web conferencing, chat, file sharing and storage for enterprise collaboration, at the event. Officially, Engage is the product formerly known as Bluehouse. But that was just a taste to whet Lotus lovers' appetites.
Poulley and other IBM officials promised much more from LotusLive later this year, but it was unclear during his presentation what those solutions would be. eWEEK asked Kevin Cavanaugh, vice president of messaging and collaboration for IBM, what LotusLive would include, in an interview later in the day.
LotusLive applications will include SAAS iterations of existing IBM on-premise applications, said Cavanaugh.

One of those apps is already live; LotusLive Notes, formerly called Lotus Notes Hosted Messaging Service, is a version of Notes IBM hosts in its data centers targeted to businesses from 1,000 to 10,000 e-mail inboxes. "We'll host your e-mail servers on Domino 8.5," Cavanaugh said.

Other solutions planned for later this year include: LotusLive iNotes, a lightweight version of Notes for "boundary workers" that don't require full functionality of Notes; LotusLive Connections, a SAAS version of the company's enterprise social networking software; and LotusLive Meetings and LotusLive Events, a rebranding of the Lotus Sametime Unyted SAAS Web conferencing application.

There will even be LotusLive BlackBerry add-ons for LotusLive Notes and LotusLive instant messaging plug-ins for Notes users over the next few months.
Clearly, LotusLive is intended to challenge the pioneering SAAS collaboration platform, Google Apps, and Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite, a new family that includes SAAS versions of SharePoint, Exchange, Office Live Meeting and Office Communication Server.