IBM is hoping to grow its presence in the office space, and beef up sales of its Lotus division, by offering server-based desktop productivity applications distributed to a variety of devices.
Improvements to Lotus Workspace Messaging (LWM), Lotus Workplace Documents (LWD) and Workplace Client Technology, Micro Edition (WCTME) are three new applications that Big Blue hopes will help chip away at Microsoft's dominance in the space.
With applications running on the server, rather than at the desktop, software updates give customers the ability to access applications via the Web or corporate intranet using not only their desktop or laptop but also PDAs and wireless phones.
By putting all the software on the server, IBM is hoping business users won't have to deal with accessing documents from a particular Web application or client-based software piece; it will all reside under one unified application model, accessible by most kinds of devices.
With WCTME 5.7 and a beefed-up Workplace Messaging app, Lotus mobile users can go online and send instant messages or download e-mail, get updates on collaborative projects, or get the latest sales figures and view them offline at leisure. Since documents, presentations and reports are centrally managed, collaborative projects are more logically placed, officials said.
Workplace Messaging is an update to the software debuted in May 2003, which featured a baseline e-mail management component.
IBM will tap its middleware WebSphere portal software to provide the front-end interface for these server-based applications and Tivoli to manage the accounts on the network. WCTME 5.7 support allows for 'mini' support of DB2e, Java runtime environments, Service Management Framework and MQe integration on thin clients like PDAs. And unlike Microsoft, IBM's software will run on Windows, Unix, Linux and mobile operating systems like Symbian. Support for Apple is expected later this year.
The new software comes with support for application developed by IBM partners like Adobe and PeopleSoft.
Lotus has been quickly morphing into an Office-killer since last year, adding capabilities that merge back-office management with front-end end user productivity tools like the integrated e-mail, calendar, and IM functions tool released as part of a larger update in November 2003.
Because Lotus Workplace is built on top of J2EE, SQL, and Web services, it has a level of interoperability with open source developers and applications not enjoyed by Microsoft and its proprietary software.
Officials at Big Blue are anticipating big things from the Lotus upgrade. Sales of the collaboration software have been modest, at best, compared to other IBM middleware offerings. In the fourth quarter of 2003, Lotus sales grew 2 percent, compared to 17 percent and 10 percent gains in Tivoli and WebSphere, respectively.
Analysts see this latest move from IBM more as a shift to offering software in a more dynamic, distributed computing environment.
This article was originally published on internetnews.com.