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Lotus to buy DataBeam, Ubique

Continuing its efforts to bring real-time features to its email and collaboration packages, Lotus says it will purchase the two real-time software vendors.

IBM subsidiary Lotus Development today said that it will purchase real-time software vendors DataBeam and Ubique, and outlined a product strategy based on the acquisitions.

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will be acquired by IBM and will become part of Lotus Communications Products Division. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The acquisition continues the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company's efforts to bring real-time features to its email and collaboration packages. The company said it will combine application and data sharing from DataBeam and interaction tools such as chat, "buddy" awareness, and instant messaging from Ubique with its Notes and Domino groupware in future releases, beginning later this year.

Lotus said the real-time features will be supported by joint work with industry partners, such as America Online. AOL is one of the investors from which Ubique will be purchased.

Analysts said the acquisitions mark a trend in the messaging and collaborative market as companies like Lotus and its chief competitor, Microsoft, try to shore up their typically asynchronous product environments with real-time technology in order to make them more synchronous.

"This is a good move by Lotus," said Michael Comiskey, an analyst with International Data Corporation. "This will give them a solid technology base for synchronous," product development.

Company executives also explained how the acquisition of Ubique could affect other applications outside of the groupware and collaborative market.

Michael Zisman, executive vice president of Lotus, said, during a press conference, that IBM will also look at leveraging Ubique's Web community building technology, like the "buddy list," in its e-business systems.

For now, Lotus plans to offer client- and server-based products that deliver network-based, real-time communication and collaboration features. Lotus will include the document-based awareness, instant messaging, and real-time conferencing technology of Israel-based Ubique, and Lexington, Kentucky-based DataBeam, with the next generation of Lotus Notes and Domino, to expand the groupware product into what it is calling a sametime collaboration platform.

As earlier reported, the latest version of Notes and Domino features an improved user interface, enhanced real-time messaging features, and support for Java applets.

In related news, Lotus yesterday debuted a new server and reduced prices for its servers and client-access licenses. The new Domino Enterprise Server provides users with a single package for clustering, partitioning, and billing services, all of which were available separately but are now contained in one server. The new package will be available by July 1 and is priced at $3,195, according to the company.

Lotus also lowered the price of its Domino Mail Server from $995 to $695. The company scrapped its single processor server version, which was priced at $1,495, making its CPU multiprocessor server its base server. That product's price has now been reduced from $2,000 to $1,795.

Along with the price changes, Lotus also introduced new client-access licensing. Now the company requires non-Notes clients that access Domino applications to have a license--a Domino Groupware client access license (CAL) will be needed for every name that is entered in the Lotus directory, including employees of a company, its contractors, and third-party partners.

The Groupware CAL is priced at $30, with an annual renewal fee of $8. Beginning July 1, all new users who access Domino for nonmail applications will need to purchase the Groupware CAL, while existing users need only pay the annual renewal fee.

The company also renamed its mail-access CAL, introduced in 1996, and adjusted its price. Domino Access License, which allowed users to access Domino from a variety of clients, was renamed Domino Mailbox CAL. The Mailbox CAL allows users to access mail, calendaring, and scheduling within Domino using non-Notes clients. Lotus will reduced the price of the Mailbox CAL from $45 to 30, with an annual renewal fee of $8.

The changes take effect July 1.