IBM wants to help SMBs build their businesses by offering them a strong foundation -- a Lotus Foundations, that is.
The offering is being presented as a "one-stop shop" for companies with five to 500 employees, reports PCWorld. A bundle of software sold with on-premise servers will include Lotus Domino, file management, directory services, firewall, backup and productivity tools. There will be opportunities for customization, as IBM's reseller partners will be able to integrate their applications into the offering.
Big Blue is also developing a set of Web-hosted services designed to facilitate enhanced collaboration through file sharing, online chat and Web meetings. They are currently available in a beta version.
Mike Rhodin, the GM for Lotus, tells PCWorld that the beta will help IBM tweak its delivery model for software-as-a-service (SaaS), which he says is still evolving. Rhodin says:
"Our approach is going to be to work with partners and the marketplace to find out the best solution for them."
Like SAP, Microsoft and some others, IBM must determine how to sell SaaS without cannibalizing its traditional on-premise software.
Because the software is "autonomic," or self-healing, it will be especially appropriate for companies without a team of dedicated IT staffers. IT Business Edge blogger Loraine Lawson provides a real-world example of how using autonomic software (in this case, IBM's Tivoli) saved one Internet services company a bundle of money.
In additional IBM news, Big Blue says it's co-developing a software product with SAP that will facilitate integration of IBM's Lotus Notes collaboration and office productivity software with SAP's Business Suite. Currently code-named "Atlantic," the companies expect to ship the first release in 2008's fourth quarter.