Notes Touted For ASPs

SAN MATEO (08/18/2000) - Trying to capitalize on a white-hot ASP (application service provider) market, IBM Corp.'s Lotus Development Corp. will introduce a version of Notes for ASPs in mid-September as well as agreements with several partners that will help the company run Notes on IBM's or the partners' data centers.

Shortly after the introduction of the product, expected to be shown at next month's Lotusphere Berlin trade show, the company will unveil a service for ISVs (independent software vendors) that allows them to embed a variety of Lotus technologies into their applications simply by calling them via the Web.

Although he declined to offer details of the upcoming product, Lotus President and Chief Executive Officer Al Zollar said that readying a version for the ASP market has been one of his top priorities since taking over the reigns of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company earlier this year.

"I really think this world of software-as-services is rapidly coming along, and we are going to be aggressive participants in that world," Zollar said. "This puts us in a much better position to support companies who view themselves as pure-play ASPs, and we are actively developing partnerships with those companies."

Also at Lotusphere Berlin, Lotus will formally launch SameTime 2.0, which will include new capabilities such as automatic language translation, audio and video over IP (Internet Protocol) support, and the capability of running on not only desktop PCs but also on a number of mobile devices such as cell phones.

Most analysts believe Lotus' decision to deliver an ASP version of Notes is well-timed, given that many larger shops are looking to outsource applications, including groupware, through an ASP or MSP (managed service provider) model.

"(Notes) is a good candidate for ASPs, and business generally is a hot candidate for ASPs. Messaging has been a little slower than other apps to move to a hosted environment," said Robert Mahowald, research analyst at International Data Corp. (IDC), in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Some analysts -- although noting that Lotus has ample opportunity to gain shares of the nascent ASP market, particularly against archrival Microsoft -- still assert that Lotus may have some front-end marketing and technical work to do to improve Notes and Domino.

"No doubt there is large opportunity for them here, but from an image and branding standpoint, Notes and Domino do not have the cleanest reputation.

(Lotus) has improved it, but some still think it is cumbersome to program using their proprietary database file format," said John Dunkle, president of Workgroup Strategic Services, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Lotus has no plans for a version of Notes for ISPs (Internet service providers), the other red-hot category of service provider, Zollar said, adding that the ASP version could serve both markets.

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