IBM is integrating its LotusLive SaaS (software as a service) collaboration suite with a range of other business applications and services, including Salesforce.com, UPS shipping, Skype and the Silanis e-signature service.
"For many years in the Lotus business we've been talking about collaboration in the context of the work you do every day," said Sean Poulley, vice president for cloud collaboration. The areas addressed by the new integrations are "core horizontal building blocks of a company," he added.
IBM doesn't "necessarily need to deliver hundreds of these" integrations, as it is prepping an open API (application programming interface) that will enable customers and partners to tie LotusLive to other SaaS applications or back to on-premises installations, he said.
LotusLive customers will be required to purchase separate licenses for the integrated products. IBM is looking to make the purchasing process simpler for customers, but doesn't have a specific plan yet, Poulley said. First, Big Blue wants to ensure customers are having a good user experience, he said.
The Skype, Salesforce.com and Silanis integrations are now available, while the UPS tie-up is set for release later this year. All of them are well-integrated with native LotusLive workflows, IBM said.
IBM has also added language support for Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish, and announced a new LotusLive version that includes social networking and email for US$7 per user per month.
The announcement reflects an emerging move toward SaaS suites and a concurrent "new set of platform wars," where the battlegrounds focus on partner and customer ecosystems instead of technology, said analyst Ray Wang, partner with Altimeter Group.
It also could help spur customers who used Lotus long ago but since moved on the impetus to take another look, he said.