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Looking back at IBM Lotus in 2009 and ahead to 2010

IBM Lotus made several important technological strides in 2009, but what's in store for 2010?

In early 2009, IBM Lotus reiterated its dedication to collaboration on both its Notes/Domino and WebSphere Portal platforms. The Lotusphere 2009 conference demonstrated IBM Lotus' continued efforts to build software that supports content creation and management through increasingly sophisticated application interfaces.

Lotusphere 2009 announcements included promises to expand Lotus Notes/Domino mobility to iPhones, deliver the long-promised Eclipse-based Domino Designer, and ship new versions of Lotus Connections and Sametime. In addition to evolving its existing solutions, IBM Lotus announced the acquisition of Outblaze, Ltd. to round out its expansion into the hosted software-as-a-service market.

In spring 2009, the availability of the LotusLive Engage bundle and LotusLive Notes mail ushered in IBM Lotus' first SaaS offerings. In the summer, IBM Lotus shipped Connections 2.5, which included expanded client integration -- including a common business-card interface to make profile management and navigation more contextual across Lotus products. IBM also launched its Lotus Knows marketing campaign to increase brand awareness.

IBM Lotus support for Notes/Domino 7.x and Lotus Enterprise Integrator 7.x will also end in April 2011. IBM Lotus will instead focus on product support and development on Notes/Domino 8.x and beyond.

Early October brought a number of important releases from IBM Lotus, including a performance-enhanced Notes/Domino 8.5.1, Domino Designer 8.5.1, LotusLive iNotes -- not to be confused with Lotus Domino iNotes email services -- and Notes Traveler 8.5.1, which includes native Microsoft ActiveSync protocol support and iPhone integration.

What to expect in 2010

Lotusphere 2010 is likely to demonstrate IBM's progress over the past year. Although major product version announcements are not anticipated, point releases of Sametime 8.5 and Quickr are imminent and are likely to be showcased at the event. Below are some anticipated Lotusphere and IBM Lotus themes in the 2010.

  • Client integration: Like its competition, IBM Lotus has been engaged in creating more integration across the IBM client interfaces to entrench customers in the Lotus brand and stack. Making collaboration and communication tool actions more contextual is vital to adoption of the technology.
  • Cloud: IBM expressed interest in cloud computing in 2009, focusing on messaging, collaboration and development environments as leading use cases for hosted services. However, I feel that it's likely that IBM Lotus will showcase more of its plans for cloud-based collaboration in 2010.
  • Mobility: IBM Lotus has doubled down on mobility design for the future. The rapidly evolving smartphone business will increase interest on how to build interfaces for mobility.
  • Content management: Competition from Microsoft's upcoming 2010 Office and SharePoint releases are putting pressure on IBM Lotus to compete in content editing and management. Support for enterprise content management, Web-based editing and integrated clients are hot 2010 topics.
  • Social software: IBM Lotus has been a pioneer in information sharing, but business collaboration has been shifting to social tools. Market competition and consumer-based solutions make IBM's social computing story more compelling these days.

Competitors have been hard at work in 2009 as well. Microsoft released Exchange Server 2010 in November, Office and SharePoint Server 2010 will be available in the first half of the 2010. Cisco recently announced its WebEx Collaboration offerings, Oracle continues to foster Beehive, Google continues to hammer at the enterprise market and even announced an expansion into collaboration.

IBM Lotus in 2010 will be the same determined software development firm of 2009. What will be important is IBM's point of view and strategy for Lotus' position in an increasingly disruptive market.

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Karen Hobert
Karen is an IT industry research analyst focused on communication, collaboration, content management and social software technologies. She offers over 20 years of hands-on and market expertise to enterprises planning, designing, and deploying shared information systems. You can see more of her thoughts at Karen Hobert's Connecting Dots blog.

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