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IBM kicked off its annual Lotusphere event dedicated to its Lotus Notes and Domino groupware and collaboration environment this weekend, having already launched Notes and Domino 8.5 at the recent Macworld.

First up at the Orlando, Florida, event was a peanut butter-and-chocolate combination of the Notes and Domino groupware software from IBM with mySAP Business Suite, SAP's flagship business-applications suite.

IBM said the resulting code, called Alloy, is the first jointly developed program created by the two companies. It would be interesting to know Alloy was originally created by IBM for its own internal use, since it is one of the largest Notes and Domino and SAP ERP sites in the world. IBM, though, gave household products company Colgate-Palmolive and Danish dairy food maker Arla Foods top billing in the announcement.

Rather than use the application screens that come by default with Business Suite, the Alloy add-on deploys the SAP screens inside of Lotus Notes and makes use of the collaboration features in Domino. That means, for instance, executives don't have to learn two systems - one for getting data about the business and one for collaborating with employees.

Domino, being an application development and runtime environment in its own right, has its own workflow software, but Alloy makes use of workflow, reporting, and analytic modules inside Business Suite, which can then be customized with Notes and Domino or the SAP development tools.

IBM and SAP share some 13,000 joint customer accounts, with millions of end users, so the potential for selling the Alloy add-on for SAP Business Suite is pretty large. It is unclear how many of those accounts have Business Suite, however.

By SAP's reckoning, Business Suite is aimed at larger enterprises, with 2,500 or more employees. The company's Business One suite, which is for small businesses with between 100 and 1,000 employees, and its All-in-One suite, which targets companies with fewer than 2,500 employees, do not have the Alloy Notes interface yet. Alloy will ship in March, and will be sold by both IBM and SAP.

IBM, meanwhile, gave a formal name to its cloudy rendition of Lotus collaboration and messaging software, formerly known as Bluehouse and now called LotusLive. The Lotus collaboration, web conferencing, messaging, and email software can now be consumed through a software-as-a-service model through the LotusLive site.

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