IBM Debuts Online Version of Lotus Software

International Business Machines Corp., a provider of IT infrastructure services, today announced that it will release an online version of its Lotus programs, a bid to attract new customers by tapping into so-called cloud computing.

The company claims that LotusLive will allow users to create networks with business partners and customers. It explains that the software is delivered through the internet, which is represented as a cloud on network diagrams, hence the term. That frees customers from having to store programs on their own computers, adds the company.

The company said last week it would buy e-mail software assets from Hong Kong-based Outblaze Ltd. It avers that this will let LotusLive users access their e-mail from any computer via the Web, similar to the way Google's Gmail works. It says that LotusLive ties into software from, the maker of customer-management program, and LinkedIn Corp., a social-networking site for professionals. It also works with Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry phones and software from SAP AG, a maker of business-management programs.

"IBM aims to make gains on Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange, which has more than half the market for e-mail server software. Businesses use such programs to handle employee e-mails and other messages on their networks. By shifting Lotus to the Internet, customers can save on storage and spend less time maintaining the software," said Bob Picciano, Lotus's general manager.

''Everyone's focused right now on doing more with less,'' Picciano added.

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