IBM expands Web-based email while teaming with Canonical to introduce a new Linux-based software package for desktops.
IBM introduced a new business-class Web-based email and calendaring service last week that promises to simplify email administration, while still offering flexible and robust services. The announcement came at the same time that IBM said it was teaming with Canonical on a new personal computing software package for notebooks and other thin-client devices. The trend is toward lean and mean, and IBM is betting it will get a big reception in countries unable to pay high prices for proprietary desktop software.
LotusLive iNotes offers email access without the hardware, software, or data-center costs normally associated with server-based email systems. What's more, in just minutes, administrators can provision new email accounts to users while managing accounts of existing members. Without the cost and usual risk associated with integrating emerging technologies into your email system, companies deploying LotusLive iNotes will find their users can access their email from a number of different locales, such as a personal computer, a shared terminal, or even a mobile device. They can connect up with LotusLive on Notes. And perhaps the best part? It costs only $3 per user per month (with a one-year agreement).
Included in the offering is built-in spam and virus protection, a feature that makes LotusLive iNotes worth the investment for the virus protection alone. Users get webmail, contacts, calendaring, 1 GB of storage per user, and a unique cross-platform capability to use with email clients such as Lotus Notes or Microsoft Outlook. Mobile devices are supported through IMAP IDLE. The email system administration tools will make LotusLive iNotes attractive to system administrators. Provisioning users in large organizations, where turnover is significant, can be greatly simplified with the administration tools of this Web-based email system. An additional 100 GB of storage can be purchased through subscription and allocated as needs arise.
LotusLive iNotes for netbooks and thin-client devices is part of a personal computing software package being introduced this fall in Africa in an effort to bridge the digital divide between developed and emerging countries. According to Bob Picciano, general manager of IBM Lotus, software businesses in emerging markets are seeking freedom and flexibility afforded by open standards. The new IBM software client package "builds on the movement toward open standards and Web-based personal computing by giving people the power to work smarter, regardless of device," he says.
Dubbed the IBM Client for Smart Work, the package is a joint effort by IBM and Canonical. It consists of a cloud- and premise-based Linux netbook software package designed to take advantage of the increasingly popular low-cost netbook. It consists of open-standards-based email, word processing, spreadsheet, unified communications, social networking, and other software for laptop, netbook, or a variety of mobile devices. It runs on Canonical's Ubuntu Linux operating system and provides an option through a cloud service model to deliver collaboration over the Web. The standard package includes Lotus Notes or iNotes (Web-based service), Lotus Symphony, Lotus Sametime, and components from LotusLive. The package can be modified to include WebSphere Portal, Lotus Connections for on-premise social networking, and Lotus Quicker for file and repository management.
IBM estimates that the Linux-based software package can save an organization up to 50 percent per individual seat versus an equivalent Microsoft-based desktop when you factor in licensing, administration, and maintenance.
"Starting with Africa, we see that this smart client package can help realize our vision of eliminating barriers to computer access for emerging markets," says Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical. "Our IBM partnership brings together the strengths of collaboration."
The new software package also supports desktop virtualization. The software bundle can be extended to virtualized workspaces using VERDE from Virtual Bridges, which is available locally through business partners.
The Smart Work client relies on the Web-based LotusLive.com to give businesses the tools to build a network of partners and suppliers. The idea is to give companies the tools to reduce costs and reach out to new customers in remote areas. LotusLive has a variety of different packages, including iNotes, that allow users to share files, conduct online meetings, engage in secure instant messaging, and exploit social networking. Subscription-based fees that start at just $10 per user per month make the package eminently affordable. Regions of the world that heretofore have relied on either pirated or unsupported free software now have an alternative.
"Most free software packages can be a nightmare of setup woes, training costs, and processes that just don't fit your organization," Professor Venansius Barya Baryamureeba, dean of the faculty of computing and IT at Makerere University in Uganda, tells IBM.
According to IBM, the challenges faced by nations with mature economies are quite different from those faced by emerging countries, especially during the ongoing global economic downturn. Businesses in established markets have focused on ways to improve efficiency and lower IT costs. Those in emerging markets have spent their time working out ways to equip their workers with the tools and technology to manufacture, service, and sell more goods. Apparently Africa and other emerging markets are working toward expanding their commercial sectors through reliance on new, open systems that can respond more flexibly to a need to expand than proprietary software affords.
While many established companies in developed nations have become used to the features and support that go with proprietary desktop software, a good portion of the emerging world is taking a different direction: one that beats a path toward open-standards and open-source software.