Blogger: Bill Pray
IBM's Bluehouse beta officially comes to an end today with the launch of LotusLive Engage - unfortunately, it is still without e-mail. Engage is a software-as-a-service offering of web conferencing, file sharing, instant messaging, and team workspace capabilities. All beta accounts are being converted to trial accounts that expire in 45 days. In order to compete with Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), Google Apps Premier Edition, and a yet to be launched suite from Cisco (which will combine WebEx Web conferencing, PostPath's e-mail and Jabber instant messaging), Engage will need e-mail capability.
However, IBM announced its intent to acquire Outblaze - a Hong Kong based SaaS e-mail provider - just before Lotusphere in January to "be part of IBM Lotus' Project 'Bluehouse.'" So, IBM intends on providing e-mail in Engage in the future, although the details are still yet to be announced.
LotusLive is the umbrella brand for IBM's SaaS collaboration offerings. Currently, there are four SaaS offerings including Engage. The other three are Events, Meetings, and Notes. Events and Meetings are web conferencing offerings that utilize Lotus Sametime Unyte technologies. Notes is a hosted version of Lotus Notes that was launched last October.
From an enterprise perspective, LotusLive bears watching but is not ready for enterprise use (except maybe for specific use cases, like a remote location that only needs the basics). There are still numerous questions about how the hosted offerings will interoperate with the on-premise solutions. The lack of e-mail in Engage and IBM's note on the hosted version of Notes that states "LotusLive Notes is designed primarily for companies with 1,000 to 10,000 employees" also indicate that IBM's hosted solutions need some time before being mature enough for the enterprise.