A few months ago I opined that collaboration was shaping up as the cloud's killer application, thanks to the cloud's ability to make it easy for anyone with a Web browser to view, comment on and modify data. Via the cloud, folks can more easily collaborate with far-flung colleagues as well as outside partners and suppliers. But because at least some of that data might contain sensitive and/or highly proprietary information, perhaps a cloud/on-premise collaboration model will work best for most companies.
IBM is moving in that direction, wrote IT Business Edge's Mike Vizard earlier this month, with an evolving Lotus Live platform that allows companies to migrate the Lotus-based applications of their choosing to the cloud while keeping others on-premise.
IBM also partnered with Canonical, the commercial sponsor of the Ubuntu Linux operating system, to offer what it calls a Client for Smart Work package that Big Blue says could help companies shave up to 50 percent off the costs of traditional desktop software. It''s obviously not a coincidence that the product's release roughly coincides with that of Microsoft's highly-hyped Windows 7 operating system. Though early word-of-mouth is positive for the new OS, steep Windows 7 migration costs may prompt some companies to consider cloud-based software alternatives.
Client for Smart Work includes free word processing, spreadsheets and presentations from IBM Lotus Symphony; e-mail from IBM Lotus Notes or the company's new LotusLive iNotes cloud-based e-mail application and LotusLive.com social networking and collaboration tools, reports eWEEK. Customers will have a choice of IBM hosting data on its servers, using a Lotus Foundations appliance or on-premise Lotus Domino collaboration software.
It looks as if Microsoft has similar cloud/on-premise plans for SharePoint. When ZDNet's Mary-Jo Foley interviewed members of Microsoft's SharePoint team, she found the SharePoint product and SharePoint Online teams working more closely together on SharePoint 10 than they have for previous releases. Partner Group Program Manager Lauren Antonoff tells Foley the two teams are now more akin to "one blurry virtual team," with the goal of keeping the online and offline versions of SharePoint more consistent.