IBM reaches out to SAP, RIM with Notes
Things get LinkedIn
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.
IBM has also inked a deal with online professional networking company LinkedIn so Lotus users will be able to link to their LinkedIn networks from Lotus mail and other applications. Ditto for internet-phone provider Skype and online customer-relationship-management vendor Salesforce.com, which also have integration deals with IBM for the LotusLive product.
These three deals, IBM crowed, will deliver "integrated collaborative solutions to an audience of more than 400 million people". It is more likely the much smaller number of LotusLive users will have some features that make the services more appealing than they would be as a standalone offering. The tail is not wagging the dog here, even if the integration is useful. There is nothing compelling those 400 million souls to use LotusLive, after all.
There was mobile news, too. IBM said it has created some development tools that link the Lotus and Domino software stack to Research In Motion's (RIM's) BlackBerry smartphones. The tools allow for Lotus Symphony documents - stored in the Open Document Format - to be opened on a BlackBerry smartphone. IBM said it is working on the ability to let the smartphones do this for its Symphony spreadsheets and presentations.
Smartphones will be able to run IBM's Quickr team software for the sharing of documents, photos, and videos, and with the new IBM tools they will also be able to access Lotus Connections to participate in blogs and online communities.
IBM also previewed future support for BlackBerry smartphones for the Lotus Domino Designer application development tool and the XPages it creates. This support will be enabled by snapping the BlackBerry Java Development Environment into Domino Designer.
None of these tools are available now - they are in preview. RIM and IBM said that Symphony document viewing and Lotus Connections support is coming in the second quarter, while the Quickr and Designer support for BlackBerries are due sometime in the second half of this year. ®