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IBM Unveils Plans for Collaboration Software and Services for Small-and-Medium Sized Businesses


LOTUSPHERE -- At Lotusphere, IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced plans for a software portfolio expansion geared to the needs of millions of companies from 5 to 500 employees that want to focus on growing their businesses instead of running their office systems.

IBM Lotus Foundations is a future line of small business software servers, installed on-premise, and is expected to be offered primarily through IBM Business Partners. In addition, IBM announced a managed beta of a Web-delivered service codenamed “Bluehouse.” “Bluehouse” provides extranet services that make it easy for small-and-medium sized companies to securely collaborate beyond their organizational boundaries.

The combination of Lotus Foundations and “Bluehouse” will provide essential software solutions in simple to acquire and manage packages. Small-and-medium sized businesses (SMBs) need superior collaboration and business solutions as much as large companies. With Lotus Foundations and Bluehouse, used separately or in combination, organizations will be able to take advantage of proven enterprise-strength software delivered as a turn-key package for start-up businesses without IT staff.

“Small-and-medium sized business represents a significant growth opportunity for IBM,” said Mike Rhodin, general manager, IBM Lotus Software. “Our SMB approach -- which combines easy-to-deploy, self-managed on premise servers with Web-delivered, extranet collaboration services -- uniquely empowers SMBs to succeed in any market.”

Based on Linux, IBM Lotus Foundations is expected to provide server software that requires minimal technical expertise and is autonomic -- able to manage and heal itself. This will allow small-and-medium sized companies to focus on their business, rather than spending time and resources managing information technology. Lotus Foundations will be built on the principles of IBM’s Express Advantage program for small and medium business such as ease-of-installation and ease-of-use.

The first component of the Lotus Foundations family is currently expected to include a pre-loaded, one-stop-shop solution for small companies: Lotus Domino mail and collaboration platform, file management, directory services, firewall, back-up and recovery, and office productivity tools. Designed to accommodate growth, customers will be able to easily add more users or servers as needed. In addition, as planned, Lotus Foundations will give system integrators and independent software vendors the opportunity to integrate their new or existing applications into the Foundations platform with minimal effort.

A key component of the Lotus Foundations family will be technology acquired through IBM’s purchase of Net Integration Technologies, which is expected to close later in the first quarter of 2008, as announced last week. Industry observers have favorably rated the Net Integration Technologies small-business server against Microsoft’s Small Business Server. Net Integration Technologies features have consistently received high marks for ease-of-use, installation and disaster recovery. IBM plans to integrate the innovative Net Integration’s technology into its Lotus Foundations family of software servers. Lotus Domino is already integrated into the Net Integration platform. IBM’s strategies for SMB, collaboration and acquisitions are among the keys to its growth.

“Bluehouse,” will offer a suite of collaboration services that allows businesses to work together by sharing contacts, files, project activities and interacting with chat and Web meetings. This new set of services will enable small companies to easily collaborate beyond their organizational boundaries without the need for any in-house technical expertise. “Bluehouse” is now available as a limited beta offering and will be progressively unveiled throughout the year.

SMBs have the same types of business challenges as large corporations but must solve them with limited or no IT resources. They need to compete globally and they require industry-specific solutions that help them automate, simplify and speed product-to-market cycles.

Consequently, small-medium companies need powerful collaboration and business solutions to allow them to work more easily with their customers and suppliers. These new offerings from IBM Lotus software draw upon 20 years of innovation in collaboration with world-class business expertise and research delivered in a way that is easy to access and use.

Today’s announcement illustrates the future of work and how IBM operates as a globally integrated enterprise in the 21st century workplace. Global integration has become embedded in IBM’s workforce, strategy, leadership and operations -- affecting how the company collaborates across time zones and cultures and locates its operations, functions and leadership anywhere in the world based on the right skills and business environment. Small and medium businesses are increasingly going global and becoming more competitive through technology. Accessing world-class collaboration is the next step.

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