Lotus Collaboration tools and technologies You may think they are coming from behind, but if the product demonstrations that occurred at Lotusphere are any indication, IBM is in the fast lane of Web 2.0 tools and technologies and must have been there for while. From updates to Lotus Notes and Domino, to new versions of Lotus Connections and new products like Lotus Mashups, IBM is approaching Web 2.0 not from a cool technology standpoint – but from a business needs standpoint. "Web 2.0 for business is about empowering users with the content, social connections and mashup tools to solve business problems," said Michael Rhodin, general manager, IBM Lotus Software. Well said. Let’s take a look at what IBM has to offer:

Lotus Notes and Domino 8.0.1

Coming out in February, Lotus Notes and Domino have some new features: * Lotus Notes - My Widgets: Drag and drop or import all kinds of widgets into the Lotus Notes sidebar. Custom built widgets, Google Gadgets, RSS feeds or web pages, sky’s the limit. * Lotus Domino – Lotus Notes Traveler: Provides real-time wireless replication of email for Microsoft Windows Mobile Devices (including calendar, contacts, journal, to-do list and email attachments). * Lotus Notes – IBM Lotus Protector for Mail Security: a new email security appliance based on the IBM Proventia Network Mail Security System. This is an ant-virus/anti-spam solution that will block the nasty stuff before it ever gets to the Notes server or the user. * Lotus Symphony 4 Beta: This is the next version of the no charge desktop productivity tools. It will feature an open programming model that will enable any ISV to wire capabilities into their documents to access and manage business applications. Basically it will provide the ability to develop composite applications. * You will also find a set of IBM plug-ins on the Symphony community website such as Sametime Unyte Meeting, Sametime Unyte Share, and IBM WebSphere Translation Server. * IBM Applications on Demand for Lotus Notes: Don’t want to buy Lotus Notes or Domino and install it in your enterprise? Well now you can get it on demand. IBM will offer a hosted and managed environment for mail and collaborative applications including Lotus Sametime and Lotus Quickr connector software. IBM also previewed Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5 software at Lotusphere 2008. This next major release includes enhancements to the Domino web application environment. The Lotus Domino Designer will allow applications to use Web 2.0 techniques like AJAX, RSS or ATOM feeds. And finally IBM will offer several new platform integrations including: * an integrated Lotus Open Collaboration Client Solution with support for Ubuntu, a Linux-based OS * a new agreement with Red Hat to combine Red Hat Linux Advanced Platform, Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop, IBM Lotus Notes client with Lotus Symphony and the IBM Lotus Domino server

Lotus Connections

This is the second year for the social software called Lotus Connections. It’s features include profiles, blog, bookmarking, communities and activities (such as task lists and to-do lists). There are number of new features added to the software including: * A new Homepage – based on the mashup technology it will integrate and filter social data from all five of it’s core functions into a customizable view. Similar to a dashboard of widgets, users will also be able to create new widgets and incorporate them into the homepage. * Enhanced community component – Discussion forums will be added as well as the ability to link to some external wiki providers such as Quickr, SocialText and Altassian. * Lotus Sametime is now able to directly access Lotus Connections membership lists to provide communications. * Replication is due to be added later this year.

Lotus Quickr 8.1

Lotus Quickr is a rich collaboration environment that can be accessed via the web or a desktop plug-in. New features announced include: * Content libraries * Discussion forums * Blogs and wikis * Other connectors * Integration with Enterprise Content Management Systems FileNet P8 and IBM Content Manager

Something New - Lotus Mashups

An early version of Lotus Mashup was demoed at Lotusphere. This is a tool that is supposed to empower business people (that’s non-technical folks) to assemble web applications or mash-ups. It includes the ability to integrate data from enterprise applications and web sites using a browser-based visual user interface. It has a set of out-of-the box widgets and a catalog for finding and sharing widgets and mash-ups. IBM sees this application as a tool that builds interim or short-term applications. But they also see the potential for these applications to be deployed across the broader enterprise as true enterprise solutions.

Are We Done Yet??

So there you have it. We’ve provided you with a smackling of upgrades and new features and a hint of new things to come for IBM collaboration. The sheer number of tools and technology announcements coming out show IBM has gotten the message that Web 2.0 is a critical component of business applications these days. Do you think they have a chance of winning over the volumes of companies and users of Microsoft collaboration technologies? SharePoint is so deeply embedded in many organizations today. IBM is no fool, they have definitely taken this into consideration and looked for ways to not only sell their own collaboration products, but integrate with others – especially SharePoint. Will this be the year of the Lotus? We’ll keep an eye on things and let you know how it goes. Until then, tell us what you think of the Lotus suites of tools and technologies.