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Lotus boosts unified messaging effort

Lotus unveils a new unified messaging strategy along with a number of deals that would bolster that effort.

Lotus unveiled a new unified messaging strategy, along with a number of deals that would bolster those efforts.

The IBM subsidiary yesterday debuted a messaging initiative based on its Domino messaging server software. The technology will allow users to access email, voice, and fax data from a desktop computer or handheld.

It marks the first time the company has publicly articulated its plans for unified messaging software, which is growing in popularity among business users.

Alongside its unified messaging efforts, Lotus has launched software, dubbed Raven, and a handful of collaboration tools, as well as made deals with Nokia and Applied Voice Technology that are all aimed to deepen its foothold in the market for software that lets users combine information from many sources.

"We believe that a strong unified messaging strategy includes partnerships. Over the last year we've worked to build these partnerships," said Pat Hume, general manager of global alliances.

Furthering its unified messaging drive, the company also announced a new marketing and development partnership with Applied Voice Technology. The companies will provide unified messaging products for the Lotus Domino 5 and Notes 5 client, as well as for Notes 4.6 and Domino 4.6. New software that will enable users to access all message types from virtually any device, including the Notes client, is expected to ship late this year.

Notes is one of the market leading software packages for messaging and corporate information, although it has felt the heat from rivals that include Microsoft.

Pushing its hardware alliances, the company announced a partnership with wireless device maker Nokia to support wireless applications built on Domino.

As part of the Nokia agreement, Lotus announced the immediate availability of Mobile Services for Domino 1.0, which enables Notes and Domino users to send and receive messages using wireless data networks and access their Domino-based information.

The new knowledge management suite Raven brings together most of Lotus's knowledge management technology developed by the company over the past two years, including its real-time collaboration software SameTime, and the messaging and collaborative infrastructure of Domino and Notes, company executives said.

Raven is software for customers to build enterprise portals by providing a profiling environment that organizes and manages personal and community content by interest, tasks, or job focus. The portal can be personalized and configured by selecting from a group of information sources, or what the company calls "knowledge windows," like mail, calendar, discussions, team rooms, Web sites, and news feeds.

"They've talked about knowledge management before, but with Raven they have organized it into an intellectual construct which seems to be something that might work for companies seriously looking at knowledge management to do business," said Amy Wohl, an analyst at Wohl Associates.

Wohl said Raven is a product where the technology is in place to make it easier for companies to move forward with their knowledge management strategy.

Lotus also released the ASP Solution Pack, geared towards hosted applications. The ASP Solution Pack will include applications that provide team collaboration, messaging, calendaring services, and shared applications within an integrated portal, the company said.