|Lotusphere 2010 Announcements Mark Collaboration Watershed for IBM|
|Application Software - Collaboration & Messaging|
|Written by Chris Smith|
|Friday, 29 January 2010 00:00|
Big Blue ramps up its Lotus collaboration offerings with a broad spectrum of product upgrades, enhanced mobile device connectivity, and corporate initiatives.
In case you hadn't noticed, businesses are having trouble making a profit today using the same tired approach they have employed for years. Business as usual just isn't cutting it.
Regardless of whether IBM anticipated the current economic downturn or whether the company just saw an opportunity for improving an already-acceptable bottom line, the ripe plum has fallen into the lap of IBM Lotus, where collaboration solutions are now beginning to make a significant difference to more than a few forward-thinking businesses struggling between profit and loss.
One notable example is our old friend General Motors, whose fortunes have waxed and waned as Wall Street's economic catastrophe has unfolded over the past three years. GM is in the process of reinventing itself, and the mantra is this: be mobile, be connected, and be equipped for anything, anytime, anywhere. So says Kirk Gutmann, chief strategy and technology officer for GM.
"We have thousands of people on iPhone and BlackBerry devices tying into their Lotus collaboration tools while in motion, increasing their productivity," says Gutmann.
IBM Lotus announced a number of initiatives last week at Lotusphere in Orlando, Florida, that introduced a major expansion of its collaboration and mail software to support smartphones, including plans to support the Google Android operating system, Apple's trendy iPhone, partner Nokia's Symbian smartphones, and the battle-tested and secure BlackBerry platform.
Lotus Notes Traveler—a free download for Notes users that allows for two-way, over-the-air synchronization of information between Lotus Domino and mobile devices—is bringing IBM messaging capabilities to a never-before-possible spectrum of mobile devices.
GM employees have been using it to stay focused on innovation both on and off the job to solve whatever problems arise. The refocused and reenergized automaker recently unveiled the industry's first smartphone application allowing owners of the new Chevrolet Volt to have 24x7 remote connectivity and control of vehicle functions and OnStar features. OnStar's Mobile Application will allow drivers to communicate with their Volts and perform certain functions, such as setting charge time from an iPhone. (Volt is a type of hybrid vehicle that gets about 40 miles on a single electric charge and then generates its own electricity after that from its gasoline engine. Chevrolet will introduce the vehicle this year.)
IBM has big plans for Lotus Notes Traveler. Eventually, it will support mail, calendar, and contacts on the Google Android mobile operating system. A new application for the iPhone, called IBM Lotus Notes Traveler Companion, is a plug-in that allows users to view encrypted mail on the iPhone, a device that many IT departments had considered risky from a security standpoint. Available now in the App Store, Lotus Notes Traveler Companion allows Lotus Notes users who synchronize their mail, calendar, contacts, and Domino mail through Traveler to view encrypted content on their iPhones. It requires Lotus Notes Traveler 8.5.1.
IBM's partnership with Nokia has resulted in a number of collaboration features on Nokia's smartphones. In addition to Lotus Notes Traveler, Symbian users have support for IBM Lotus Mobile Connect, WebSphere Portal, and XPages-based applications built with Domino Designer. Nokia's Symbian smartphones also work with Lotus Connections, the social networking software that allows users to tap the expertise of colleagues. IBM announced that a future version of Lotus Sametime (instant messaging) for the Symbian smartphones is planned for the end of 2010.
IBM and Research in Motion (RIM), makers of the BlackBerry operating system, announced the availability of rich, new social-networking applications for BlackBerry smartphones. The two companies announced the BlackBerry Client for IBM Lotus Quickr (content sharing) and a new version of BlackBerry Client for Lotus Connections. They will bring them to market through IBM, and the expectation is that by employing Connections, Quickr, and Sametime on mobile devices, workers will be able to participate more effectively in team projects while outside the office or away from their desks. Perhaps the operative words here are "in motion," which implies that workers are going to be working while they're dashing to catch a train or a plane.
So many announcements came out of Lotusphere that we felt the only way to cover them all adequately was with a table that you can see at the end of this article.
IBM announced what it is calling the IBM Collaboration Agenda, in which it is combining its knowledge of vertical industries with its software lab and consulting services to help ensure that companies realize efficiencies by implementing collaboration solutions. It will be conducting workshops in North America, the UK, and Germany this year to acquaint users with the program. Needless to say, before announcing it, IBM gave the idea a good test run with a couple of companies at home, including the Celina Insurance Group of Ohio and the Missouri Homeland Security agency, among others. Results were good, and customers were singing the praises of collaboration software and lauding their ability to do more with less.
IBM's LotusLive cloud implementation of email, Web conferencing, and social networking will be getting a big push from IBM Research that will be part of the new LotusLive Labs being created to expand the LotusLive technology frontier as well as business application of LotusLive's cloud technology. Attendees to Lotusphere got to preview several new applications under development, including Slide Library—for building and sharing presentations; Collaborative Record Meeting—for recording and instantly transcribing meeting presentations, audio, and video; Event Maps—for providing interaction with conference schedules; Composer—for creating LotusLive mashups; and Project Concord—a Web-based document editor for creating and sharing documents and spreadsheets.
IBM announced that it will be providing a new set of APIs for LotusLive services so that Business Partners can integrate LotusLive services into their offerings. Formerly, Business Partners had to be part of the LotusLive Design Partner program to develop apps with LotusLive services. Business Partners also will be provided with a no-cost LotusLive demo account and other Partner programs to encourage them to sell the service.
To that end, IBM announced it has reduced the number of users needed for a subscription to LotusLive Notes from 1,000 to just 25, and users will get a 5GB mailbox. There also will be support for Sametime instant messaging. LotusLive Notes will, in the next version, support a hybrid on-premise and cloud deployment that will offer users directory synchronization, and users can use either a browser or the Notes client for email.
IBM Project Vulcan is IBM's proposed development environment that will be released to beta during the second half of 2010. The idea is to use a loosely coupled architecture that works with existing open systems to give developers the tools they need to create a new generation of applications that are powered by collaboration. The idea is to exploit the convergence of cloud and on-premise systems and applications that integrate networks, desktops, and mobile devices. Project Vulcan is IBM's blueprint for future collaboration.
So far, IBM has been promoting its Linux desktop in Eastern Europe, Africa, and now India—places where companies don't have money to invest in Microsoft desktops (companies in Western Europe and North America apparently still do). Called IBM Client for Smart Work, the cloud- and Ubuntu-based Linux desktop package may arrive in the richer part of the world sooner rather than later if the economy doesn't pick up! The package uses IBM Lotus Symphony productivity suite, LotusLive iNotes and Connections, and Lotus Notes and Domino and offers an option to add Lotus Connections, WebSphere Portal, and virtual desktop capabilities using VERDE from Virtual Bridges. IBM claims this package approach can lower desktop computing costs by 50 percent over a Microsoft Windows approach. The package is already getting some traction among netbook manufacturers, and IBM announced that a company called Simmtronics Semiconductors will ship its new line of Simmbook netbooks preloaded with the IBM Client for Smart Work.
Finally, IBM announced Lotus Sametime 8.5 with new features, including online meetings, expanded audio and video integration, and mobile connectivity. The new zero-download Web client built on a Web 2.0 toolkit makes it easier to embed Sametime capabilities into either applications or Web sites. For instance, companies can now include presence, instant messaging, and click-to-call and click-to-meet features right on a Web site, which could save telephony and call-center costs. Participants in the beta test of Sametime 8.5 were IBM's large clients and included names such as Colgate Palmolive and Prudential Financial, who now say they will upgrade to V8.5.
So that's a technology wrap on Lotusphere, and it sure looks like IBM is turning up the heat on its collaboration burner. You just might want to plant the seeds now for a must-attend trip next year, where the Florida sunshine likely won't be the hottest aspect of a ramped-up collaboration experience.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 14:44|