IBM Corp’s Lotus unit unleashed a brace of new workgroup-oriented tools and products aimed at the mid-market this week. The company showcased a new versions of its Workplace Services Express collaboration suite and its hosted IBM Workplace for Business Controls and Reporting compliance offering.
Workplace is IBM’s line of Java-based productivity applications that run with the company’s WebSphere Portal software. Its also where IBM wants to migrate its current Notes and Domino customers to and has recently released tools aimed at simplifying Workplace application development.
Workplace Services Express 2.6, which knits together team-based collaboration and portal capabilities, is expected to ship in April and comes with significant enhancements in reliability, scalability and performance, up to 200% according to IBM Lotus officials.
There is also a new Workplace Designer tool to help third-party developers to tweak and extend the staple portal, collaboration and document management services included in the platform.
Also included in the release is a bundled license for IBM’s DB2 Universal Database Express Edition that’s linked exclusively to Workplace Services Express. IBM Lotus has also developed a special portlet that connects to Microsoft Exchange and IBM’s Workplace Web Content Management system.
IBM claims that Workplace Services Express has been seen over 5,000 trial downloads over the last nine months. It also points to 750 business partners building business applications, industry-specific solutions and value-added functionality around the product. IBM says over 60 new business applications have already been built to serve government organizations, utilities, manufacturing and retail firms.
IBM has also introduced a more flexible hosted program for its Workplace for Business Control and Reporting solution which helps companies come to grips with regulatory compliance obligations. IBM’s eBusiness Hosting Services underpins the program. IBM claims they can set up companies in less than two days and also offers a test drive program for curious but undecided customers.
IBM is also tabling new incentives for partners to sell the eBusiness Hosting Services. The company promises to compensate them for any leads they help to close — offering a closed contract fee amounting to 4% of the quarterly hosting revenue stream. With over 5,000 business partners IBM should see some uptake.
IBM Lotus saw double digit growth last year and these two new products add to its bewildering array of Workgroup-branded workgroup, collaboration, document management and knowledge portal offerings, which now total 800 solutions.