IBM Launches LotusLive Labs; Opens Up Collaboration Platform's API To Partners

At IBM’s annual conference, Lotusphere, Big Blue has announced innovations to its cloud-based collaboration platform, LotusLive. LotusLive provides enterprise users with online email, web conferencing, social network and collaboration applications within the cloud.

To spur innovation around the platform, IBM is officially launching LotusLive Labs, an R&D pipeline that combines the resources of IBM Research with Lotus. The venture is kicking off with a suite of new LotusLive technologies at the conference including Slide Library, a collaborative way to build and share presentations; Collaborative Recorded Meetings, a service that records and instantly transcribes meeting presentations and audio/video for searching and tagging; Event Maps, a way to visualize and interact with conference schedules; and Composer, the ability to create LotusLive mashups through the combination of the platform’s services. Project Concord will also debut as a web-based document editor for creating and sharing documents, presentations and spreadsheets. And IBM will be adding LotusLive support for the iPhone via Labs.

Big Blue is also opening up LotusLive’s API to third-party developers (who have to be an IBM business partner). Previously, the platform’s API was only available through a specific program but now all IBM partners can build upon the collaboration suite technology. For example, will offer an integration of its CRM application with LotusLive and Skype will also offer the ability to integrate with LotusLive contacts.

IBM will be rolling out a new version of its email offering within LotusLive, LotusLive Notes, that will have upgraded connectivity to mobile devices, data migration options, and flexible storage choices. In addition, the new client will support hybrid on-premise and public cloud deployments.

LotusLive got a boost last week as Panasonic announced that it was switching over to IBM’s online collaboration suite from Microsoft Exchange. This was a significant win for IBM because the deal represented the largest enterprise cloud deployment to date, with over 100,000 Panasonic employees to use LotusLive.

While this coup strengthens IBM’s place in the collaboration suite cloud, Microsoft is also aggressively pursuing the cloud, with a recent $250 million cloud computing deal with HP. And Microsoft is pushing its collaboration offerings online with Office 2010. As more and more businesses look to the cloud for collaboration and productivity suites, the landscape to provide these services is becoming extremely competitive. Google is also a strong competitor in the space with its Google Apps enterprise offering, and VMware just upped its stake with the acquisition of Zimbra from Yahoo. Startup Zoho, is also growing at a rapid pace.