According to Kevin Cavanaugh, vice president of development for IBM's Lotus unit, there are now 18 million users of Lotus Live worldwide, which makes IBM a major provider of productivity applications as a service alongside Google, Zoho and Microsoft.
Cavanaugh said IBM differs in its approach to this category from rivals in that its cloud computing framework is designed from the ground up to meet the collaboration needs of business users, as opposed to simply providing personal productivity applications as a service. That approach, he said, is what is driving major competitive wins for IBM at companies such as Panasonic.
A new Web editor that makes it easier to create mashup applications is one of several early-stage technologies from Lotus Labs that IBM is now making available to customers. Other tools from Lotus Labs include the ability to collaboratively build and share slides, a service for recording meetings and a way to visualize meetings. Lotus Labs is also working on Project Concord, a Web-based editor for creating and sharing documents that will be available in the second quarter.
IBM also plans to improve the synchronization capabilities between on-premise implementation of Lotus software and Lotus Live, which they said will be based on a multi-tenant architecture after its next major release,
The new additions to the IBM services include a 3.0 update to the Lotus Symphony applications that is based on the code base of OpenOffice 3.0, which an is open source implementation of a suite of personal productivity applications.
IBM is also announcing tighter integration between Lotus Live and Blackberry smartphones from Research in Motion (RIM), a bundle of its SmartWorks suite of offerings that includes the Ubuntu distribution of Linux from Canonical. Other third-party partnerships include extended support for Skype voice and video calling, electronic signature process management software from Silanis Technology and a sales messaging platform from Prolifq.
According to Cavanaugh, IBM has a strategic advantage when it comes to applications in the cloud because of its deep history with collaboration software, which he said will become increasingly critical for customers as they seek to work with others inside a common cloud computing framework.