A timely reality check from John Fontana – see the full article
Seeking to break out from behind the firewall, IBM/Lotus is cloning its collaboration family for the cloud and embarking on a direction that could define the future of its applications.
The company last week changed the name of its year-old Bluehouse cloud services project to LotusLive and signaled that it is officially in the software-as-a-service race.
The company, however, could only sketch out a rough outline that was full of technological gaps, vague on delivery dates and empty on pricing.
One clarification on the first sentence of the article: IBM is not actually cloning its collaboration family, with the exception of a couple facets of Connections and hosted Notes email (which is not the same as the SaaS email offering IBM acquired from OutBlaze just before announcing LotusLive at Lotusphere 2009, and will apparently use in LotusLive Engage).
What IBM Lotus is mostly doing instead, with LotusLive Engage, Meetings, and Events, is acquiring, rebranding, and integrating software services. While perhaps expedient for IBM, that strategy has obviously troubling implications for developers and administrators who will need to master two largely distinct platforms, if they want to use a mix of IBM’s on-premises and online communication and collaboration offerings (or three different architectures, if they’re going to use a mix of LotusLive, Notes/Domino, and the WebSphere-based IBM Lotus products) . The end user/information worker user experience also varies considerably, across the IBM Lotus offering set.
That’s a significant departure from the Microsoft Online approach, in which the same underlying (Exchange and SharePoint) infrastructure is used for both software and services at enterprise-scale, with consistent administrator, developer, and information worker experiences across the software + services continuum.