Web-based collaboration software maker Centra, headed by a
former Lotus executive, has beat out groupware giant Lotus in a deal for
distance learning technology.
today it will partner with Centra to
incorporate the software company's Symposium distance learning package into
their application deployment services, enabling project collaboration,
virtual classrooms, and training.
The deal may be an indication of just how rough the road might be for Lotus
as it attempts to gain market share for its Learning Space technology.
The partnership represents a significant loss to Lotus, which has been
a new version of LearningSpace, code-named LearningSpace Live, which
incorporates real-time collaboration technology recently acquired from
Lotus said it did not compete for the deal.
However, Debi Steinbacher, managing director at PricewaterhouseCoopers, told CNET News.com that a tool and technology team did in fact evaluate Lotus LearningSpace with Databeam's Learning Server.
"We had a list of criteria.
We looked for a product that could support a virtual classroom. Learning
Server can do this, but we needed something that is proven. Learning Server
is a good product, but our evaluation standards demanded something
different," Steinbacher said.
The deal is "a great win for Centra because PricewaterhouseCoopers has
large SAP and
Seybold practices, which gives Centra an opportunity to bring their product
to a larger audience," said Judy Andeloro, an analyst at AMR Research.
Boston-based Centra was founded in 1995 by the former head of research and
development at Lotus, Leon Navickas. The company specializes in real-time
group collaboration software.
The Centra Partner Program will provide system integrators, training, and
support partners to assist PricewaterhouseCoopers in the implementation of
the Symposium technology.
According to Debi Steinbacher, a PricewaterhouseCoopers executive, the
company looked for an enterprise-class collaboration company that had
extensive experience delivering applications and could "address the needs of
complex, global enterprise deployment."
The two companies said the partnership will specifically provide distance
learning capabilities for training customers from geographically
dispersed sites. PricewaterhouseCoopers said it will also use the Centra
technology internally for project collaboration and training delivery over
the firm's intranet.
In addition, PricewaterhouseCoopers Virtual University, a Web-based training
program since 1996, will use Symposium to provide internal training and support to
more than 9,000 members of the company's global SAP, PeopleSoft, and Oracle support services.
Financial details of the partnership were not disclosed.