IBM to launch cloud-based e-mail service

Big Blue enters the cloud-email game with its new LotusLive iNotes service, which will cost $3.75 per month per user.

IBM on Monday is expected to release a new enterprise collaboration service based on its LotusLive cloud-based platform. The service comes with 1GB of storage and will cost $3.75 per user per month.

The new IBM LotusLive iNotes service is IBM's first real foray into a mass-market cloud-based service, including e-mail, calendaring, and contact management all designed to work with existing on-premise e-mail or operate as a standalone solution. Per user pricing will start at just $3 per month.

Realistically, the new IBM service isn't much different than you see from the likes of Google Apps or Yahoo--the big change is that it's coming from IBM, an enterprise stalwart. Whether you like Lotus Notes or not, this is big news as an endorsement of cloud computing and hosted applications.

Sean Poulley, vice president of IBM Cloud Collaboration Services, said customers have been looking for strategic versions of hosted solutions for a long time. The cloud approach of multitenancy means that the real cost of IT--the cost of running the applications--is reduced, bringing economies of scale to the offerings. IBM has been working on making the service secure and "enterprise ready," he said.

IBM's decision to start offering more cloud-based services is predicated on the notion that fewer people in IT organizations are carrying more responsibility. They are also more dependent on people outside of their organizations that need access to shared documents and files. On-premise collaboration applications can likely be manipulated to work in a shared manner, but LotusLive has been designed to work that way from the ground up.

When I asked why IBM would brand the new service as part of the Lotus family, Poulley said that more than half of the Fortune 100 companies use IBM collaboration technology that includes Lotus Notes and are well aware of the brand.

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