The as-of-yet unnamed e-mail software is intended to help companies equip workers who need basic e-mail access but not the full calendar functions or other advanced features included in programs such asand Microsoft's , said Ken Bisconti, a vice president in IBM's Lotus division.
Lotuspshere started Sunday and runs through Thursday in Orlando, Fla.
The new e-mail product, set for release in the second quarter, will use a modular design to let customers pick and choose the parts they need and incorporate e-mail functions into a corporate portal or other frameworks.
"The focus is on delivering the set of tools people need, but not too much," Bisconti said. "Some companies want to have retail kiosks and allow people to interact that way, for example, but they can't afford to deliver an Outlook or Notes type of experience...The need for a mail solution for lighter-demand users isn't new. A lot of our customers have been trying to do that with Notes."
AT&T Wireless will be one of the first wireless carriers to begin offering the services based on new messaging developments.
On Monday, the nation's No. 3 carrier unveiled a wireless service called "AT&T Wireless Business Solutions for IBM" to access Lotus Notes on cell phones or other wireless device, according to an AT&T Wireless representative.
The carrier said the service, aimed at businesses, will be available mid-February. The company did not release additional details about how much it will charge businesses for the service.
IBM will also announce a number of new products that follow through on the software giant's plans for linking Lotus products with WebSphere, IBM's application server software forand Web applications.
Until now, IBM offered Lotus applications, such as its instant messaging and Web conferencing product, as add-ins, or "portlets," to WebSphere. The latest integration work creates a suite of collaborative features that are installed and preconfigured in the software, which will let companies deploy applications faster, according to IBM executives.
The Lotus collaborative applications have been rewritten to adhere to the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) specification, the basis for IBM's WebSphere server software for building customized business applications.
Revamping the underlying software of the Lotus collaborative applications to match the WebSphere portal will simplify administration and create a common look and feel across several applications, said Larry Bowden, IBM's vice president of portal solutions.
IBM will continue to rewrite other Lotus applications, such as its e-learning software, to plug into the WebSphere Portal over time. Lotus' main e-learning product, Virtual Classroom, also is being revamped to include expanded features for managing corporate education programs.
Although Big Blue will continue to offer the Lotus products on a standalone basis, IBM has revamped its Lotus' strategy around aggregating collaboration applications within the portal, Bowden said.
To make that vision work, Lotus developers will be provided with new tools over the coming year that blend in features from WebSphere Studio, IBM's development portfolio for WebSphere. Specific enhancements include Rapid Application Development (RAD), IBM technology intended to let IT managers quickly take advantage of new technology.
"This will allow a lot of Domino designers to move to a WebSphere environment," Bisconti said. "As we move this to an overall WebSphere architecture, we get a solution that's consistent across the whole IBM portfolio."
CNET News.com's Ben Charny and Martin LaMonica contributed to this report.