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Where Lotus Live may present opportunities for Services Partners

By Andrew Pollack on 10/18/2010 at 03:06 PM EDT

There’s been an understandable grumbling from the IBM Business Partner community surrounding the Lotus Live and Lotus Live Notes offerings. For years, IBM has pushed for Partners to sell licenses and then gone directly to those end customers to make the sale for renewals. In larger accounts, partners have complained of being undercut on licenses costs and generally not being treated well by the IBM sales force. I don’t sell licenses, but people I know and trust who do seem to give these stories a fair amount of weight. This doesn’t look to be getting any better with Lotus Live offerings – if anything, it’s worse from what I understand. It’s no surprise then, that the response from the partner community has been somewhat underwhelming. There is, however, some potential for good news for service providers. I wanted to take a minute to focus on that opportunity.

Unlike license sales, custom application development is not an area where IBM can effectively undercut – or really even compete – with the business partner community. The biggest stumbling block for partners in this area for the last few years has been a result of IBM’s complete lack of successful focus on growing the user base. When partners go in to get a departmental solution built – a historically sweet spot for Notes applications – they are met with a wall at the I.T. side of the shop because “we’re migrating off that platform and don’t want to pay for new development there.” While of course the majority of those migrations never happen, it doesn’t help the projects get built. Instead, the environment languishes until over time becoming less valuable and more easily migrated.

Lotus Live, and Lotus Live Notes have the potential to solve some of these problems. It will remain to be seen if the implementation gets it right – but if IBM can get these deployed with a reliable, extensible, secure interface that allows credential and directory integration, it could be an opening to once again build departmental applications. Without that doom cloud of migration hanging over the head of any potential project, IBM Business Partners should be uniquely ready to build local “black-box” or even “appliance” based application servers that integrate into the new directory model and provide the kinds of workflow and interactive applications we know how to do best.

What I’ll be looking for this year at Lotusphere with respect to Lotus Live and Lotus Live Notes is a comprehensive discussion of exactly what kind of directory, access control, and identity interface is going to be available to applications built to live on the corporate net – or hosted 3rd party servers.

IBM – this is important. You can build something partners can get behind and make “sticky” in the organization the way Lotus Notes has always been, or you can build a commodity cloud that can really only compete on price per user. The latter is a fight you will always lose.

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re: Where Lotus Live may present opportunities for Services PartnersBy John Turnbow on 10/18/2010 at 09:12 PM EDT
IBM still needs to work on identity management and working better with AD.
They won't admit it, but the Notes directory lost a long time ago, every
considers the "master" directory the one the sign in to. They usually have to
sign in again to Notes (the secondary). Yes, I know there are workarounds on
some of this...
re: Where Lotus Live may present opportunities for Services PartnersBy Rob Novak on 10/26/2010 at 08:26 PM EDT
I think they may have already accomplished a lot of this - the this being
creating the APIs and dealing with authentication via standards - but have kept
it nice and quiet. A link to a developer guide (draft! draft!) and a signup
page for a design program. I'm just investigating all this now.

Personally, I'm for directory independence, so would not want to see IBM get
into that, rather support all the wrapper and security standards that will
allow integration of, as you say, appliance or on-site applications with LL.

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