IBM isn't afraid to take on all comers in the enterprise collaboration space. Compared to most business applications, collaboration is a nascent market, and it's one which IBM apparently thinks it's well positioned to dominate. It's also one of the few bright spots in an otherwise sluggish enterprise software market, as IT Business Edge's Carl Weinschenk pointed out last week.
Earlier this month I wrote about IBM positioning its Lotus software as a competitor to Microsoft's Sharepoint. Now Big Blue is taking on Google Apps, a cloud-based collaboration contender that has garnered lots of buzz although some observers think it doesn't adequately address enterprise concerns such as security and compliance issues. Those are views IBM wants to reinforce in its publicity efforts for LotusLive iNotes, a new cloud-based e-mail, calendar and contact management service. As ZDNet's Larry Dignan writes, Sean Poulley, VP of IBM's online collaboration and cloud services, said:
We're bringing business class services and support with mission critical reliability at a price lower than the competition.
Oh yes, LotusLive iNotes is priced at $36 a year per user, vs. $50 a year for the enterprise version of Google Apps.
Poulley also called Google's Gmail "a consumer-grade service," a view that is a bit easier to support given several high-profile Gmail outages over the past year. (Like some other folks, I happen to think it's unfair that these outages get played up as much as they do. Has your e-mail ever gone down at work? Yeah, mine too. But usually someone from eWEEK doesn't call us when it happens.) IBM statements stress that iNotes "was built for business use." Even more pointedly, "Unlike other Web mail services, LotusLive iNotes accounts are not co-mingled with free, consumer accounts nor are they targeted for advertising spam." Ouch.
Among the enterprise-friendly iNotes features IBM is promoting:
- Interoperability with Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange
- Offline capability
- Secure e-mail via any browser
IBM is obviously trying to capitalize on something I mentioned yesterday in a post about Google Wave: Many enterprise IT departments -- not to mention CFOs -- are simply more comfortable going with an incumbent vendor or at least one with which they have some experience.