Lotus launches bundled cloud-based messaging and collaboration – LotusLive Plus

News from LotusLive today:

LotusLive, a cloud-based portfolio of social networking and collaboration services designed for business, now includes a new LotusLive Plus offering based on LotusLive iNotes and LotusLive Connections.

This new offering is perfect for companies who need collaboration and messaging capabilities such as:

  • File sharing
  • Instant messaging
  • Activities (project management)
  • Surveys and charts
  • E-mail


IBM is also offering new LotusLive Engage for Enterprise Deployment and LotusLive Meetings for Enterprise Deployment at competitive price points for clients who would like to conduct Web conferences for up to 200 attendees and plan on using LotusLive services company-wide
.

So first up we have a combined LotusLive iNotes and Lotuslive Connections suite, named LotusLive Plus:

This new solution includes powerful collaboration tools such as file sharing, activities, instant messaging, and social networking for business along with IBM’s new LotusLive iNotes e-mail service. LotusLive iNotes is a business-class Web-based messaging solution for everyone in an organization. With LotusLive iNotes, employees will have real-time e-mail access from a Web browser and Internet connection. Also, all e-mail accounts are enabled with POP, authenticated SMTP, and IMAP capabilities for use with e-mail clients such as Lotus Notes or Microsoft Outlook.

LotusLive Plus with LotusLive iNotes and LotusLive Connections is a great fit for companies who need both collaboration tools and messaging, thereby giving companies the ability to choose the right LotusLive offering for their business needs, whether it be a single service or a combined solution.

This makes perfect sense, as the two solutions were always intended to work side-by-side, and for many smaller businesses (including startups and the self-employed) email is still the core requirement even if the leadership or end users realise that true collaboration goes beyond messaging.  Competitors such as Microsoft BPOS and Google Apps both have combined messaging/collaboration offerings so IBM needed to match this.  The pricing has yet to be made available for LotusLive Plus but will be interesting to see – cloud-based collaboration is now a very competitive marketplace, and LotusLive iNotes stole a march on other vendors based on its very low entry-point – will LotusLive Plus continue this trend?  Clearly IBM has Google in its sights – this line is included in the announcement letter:

LotusLive services were also built for business, not for advertising, so an individual or company’s identity is protected, not exploited.

Also announced today are two new offerings for companies that plan on using LotusLive across their organisation:

LotusLive Engage for Enterprise Deployment and LotusLive Meetings for Enterprise Deployment are solutions that provide subscribers the ability to collaborate through LotusLive with anyone outside of their organization and with LotusLive subscribers inside of their organization for a lower, competitive price. Both of these offerings are sold as authorized user subscriptions and allow Web conferences of up to 200 attendees.

Once again, pricing seems to be key in these on-premise vs. cloud discussions, particularly in larger corporations, so IBM is clearly doing all it can to make the case for LotusLive as an alternative to organisations running collaboration services in-house.

Overall, I like the direction that IBM is taking with LotusLive and they really do seem to be listening to both customers and partners regarding requirements for cloud-based collaboration.  I think the LotusLive Plus with LotusLive iNotes and LotusLive Connections offering will be very popular.  However, my worry (which is a long-term concern with almost all IBM products to be fair) is the proliferation of offerings, options, bundles and pricing/licensing methodologies that are now in use for LotusLive.  If it’s difficult for partners and IBMers to follow along then it can’t help but confuse poor customers evaluating LotusLive against the opposition.  I’m hoping that the LotusLive ‘Compare Services‘ page will be updated to make the options clear.

*UPDATE* Price of LotusLive Bundle has been confirmed as $7 US list price (i.e. Band BL Passport Advantage pricing), according to
ZDNet. Interestingly they term the bundle ‘LotusLive Essentials’. The LotusLive website doesn’t use either name!

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!