IBM targets Google Apps for business, undercuts pricing and touts reliability

IBM targets Google Apps for business, undercuts pricing and touts reliability

Summary: IBM is going after Google Apps Premier hard and has the pricing to show it's serious. Big Blue is announcing the general availability of LotusLive iNotes, a cloud email, calendar and contact management service, for $36 a year per user.

TOPICS: IBM, Apps, Browser, Cloud, Google

IBM is going after Google Apps Premier hard and has the pricing to show it's serious. Big Blue is announcing the general availability of LotusLive iNotes, a cloud email, calendar and contact management service, for $36 a year per user. Google Apps Premier runs $50 per user a year.

The LotusLive iNotes launch, set to be announced on Monday, pushes reliability in a big way. Taking a jab at Google's outages, IBM said it's imperative that cloud computing "is ready for the enterprise when it's designed for the enterprise, by the enterprise, and of the enterprise." Word of IBM's iNotes move began to surface late Thursday and Big Blue has had a LotusLive iNotes site live for days.

Sean Poulley, vice president of IBM's online collaboration and cloud services, says the idea behind LotusLive iNotes is to bring more security, reliability and privacy to enterprises that want Webmail. "These things matter a lot to the customer," says Poulley, who described Google's Gmail as a "consumer grade service." "We're bringing business class services and support with mission critical reliability at a price lower than the competition."

A few key points on LotusLive iNotes:

  • IBM is acknowledging companies want hybrid cloud systems and it isn't going to cede the online portion of the equation to Google. IBM said that LotusLive iNotes is interoperable with Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange.
  • The company is pushing security and reliability as its big pitch, banking on IBM's reputation as an enterprise service provider. LotusLive iNotes features touted by IBM include secure email via any Web browser, offline capability, mobile mail and cloud centralized calendar and contracts.
  • IBM is aiming to get its foot in the door at companies that are looking for "gradual or dramatic migrations to the cloud" while supporting on-premise software. Poulley says that IBM isn't pushing the market in any one direction. He acknowledged there will be some companies that want all on-premise software and others that want everything in the cloud. The big middle tier will be hybrid.
  • The company appears to be setting up Lotus as a cloud brand. When asked whether Lotus could become synonymous with enterprise 2.0, Poulley pointed out Lotus Connections and other Web 2.0 features IBM is embracing. "In the last three years most of the Lotus portfolio has been adapted to be Web 2.0 centric," says Poulley, who added Connections is the fastest growing Lotus brand IBM has ever had.
  • Big Blue sees the Google threat as so serious it's willing to blow up pricing for share. There are a few notable Google jabs including:

LotusLive iNotes was built for business use. Unlike other Web mail services, LotusLive iNotes accounts are not co-mingled with free, consumer accounts nor are they targeted for advertising spam.

  • There are some fine print items to consider. For instance, LotusLive iNotes comes with 1GB of storage per user. Google provides 25GB. Poulley said that IBM focused on the features that businesses really want. "Some enterprise customers don't want to keep 25 GB online because it's a compliance and audit issue," says Poulley.

The big question: Will IBM's move work? There's no question that Google may be vulnerable following well-publicized Gmail outages. And large enterprises may think twice about Google. IBM says "there is zero tolerance in the big leagues for frequent outages or doubt about the sanctity of business data."

What's also notable here is that IBM may be using the cloud Lotus version to preserve its on-premise business. It's also interesting that IBM is targeting Google, but doesn't mention Microsoft, which also plans a cloud version of Office. IBM may be subtly jabbing at Microsoft when it says LotusLive iNotes gives users on-premise functionality "without adding on extra features they do not require."

Topics: IBM, Apps, Browser, Cloud, Google

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Good news

    While I'm not a big fan of IBM due to the usual
    cost associated with their offerings, I like
    their products overall and the fact that IBM is
    one of if not the largest proponent of open
    source software. I've used Lotus Notes and
    found it not as bad as everyone says, and I
    absolutely adore Lotus Symphony.

    Looking forward to seeing more of this. As a
    home user GMail and Google is my lifeblood, but
    for a business I think I would rather have a
    huge well-known company like IBM doing my
    business hosting.
    • IBM is a proponent of Open Source only ...

      ... because their customers insisted on a lower cost Linux option to AIX. No matter. In the background is the fact that IBM would like not to have to sell their customers Microsoft products. The more platforms and applications which IBM can provide themselves, the less money they have to throw Microsoft's direction.
      M Wagner
      • Not True

        Nobody buys SystemP for Linux, you buy SystemP for AIX. And AIX really isn't all that expensive either. Something around 1k/per core, and that's for running as many AIX images as you can on that server. The fact that you can run Linux in a SystemP LPAR is nice, but its not how most businesses utilize IBM hardware.
        Your right on however, that IBM will pretty much do anything to keep money out of Microsoft's coffers.
        • I don't argue with the benefits of AIX ...

          ... but IBM supports Linux for only one reason. Their customers demanded it.
          M Wagner
          • Isn't that a good thing?

            Your statement comes off as a negative. A company supporting what their customers asked for is a Good Thing(tm) in my book.

            Some of IBM's customers wanted Linux, IBM gave them that.

            IBM is in business to make money. Just like Microsoft, Dell, Sun, Oracle, etc.
          • And why does IBM sell MS products

            Is it perhaps because their customers demand it?

            This only shows they respond to customer demands. Is this unique in a competitive environment?
            Viva la crank dodo
      • Good for IBM! They invested in AIX...that means they KNOW Linux! (NT)

        No More Microsoft Software Ever!
      • MS Screwed themselves in IBM's case! :D

        They burnt them with DOS and then when IBM paid them to write/ co-write OS/2 MS took parts of it for NT and sold people Windows instead. Embrace Extend Extinguish became their modus operandi. It hasn't stopped once a criminal/thief MS is forever watching their back, knowing that the Payback will one day pay them back for how they treat competition and even partners! ;)
  • Not the news Google wanted to hear.

    For one, the fact that Google has Microsoft Office to contend with, to now have IBM offer the very popular Lotus Notes as an online version places a second, formidable foe in their path.

    Probally not the news they wanted to wake up too.
    • Actually it validates what Google is doing, and shows how good Google Apps

      are. That is why IBM is targeting Google, NOT
      Microsoft. But, big players like IBM competing in
      this area will only force Google and Microsoft to
      innovate like their life depended on it.

      What could be better for customers????
      • No, it only means that their customers are ...

        ... asking questions.

        IBM's acquisition of Lotus way back when was a swipe at Microsoft. So is IBM's support of desktop Linux. By jumping on the cloud apps bandwagon, they offer their customers somthing google cannot offer them:

        1) data security and application reliability
        2) a low-cost alternative to MS Office (and Lotus).

        If IBM moves forward, and comes to market before Microsoft has an offering, well, that just that much better for IBM and worse for Microsoft.
        M Wagner
        • Maybe

          While IBM has an excellent reputation for reliability, we can't make a claim as to the reliability of their cloud enterprise mail service until it launches and people use it for a few months. Until then, we can only assume that past performance is an indicator of future performance, something that the stock market should have taught us is not true by any stretch of imagination. Not knocking IBM, but just saying - wait and see the product.

          The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed.
          • FYI

            Was part of the external public testing for LotusLive and found it quite good. IBM was very responsive to input and ideas. MS doesn't have anything at present that I care to use, this includes it's Office stuff. Google has been unreliable for me/my small business. I found LotusLive at this point meets all my needs and specifically around security, stability.
    • But news we welcome

      Bringing the strength of the (no longer Evil?) Empire to our needs is good news.

      I would be willing to bet, however, that this was not "news" to Google. So many of their execs are IBM retirees - and IBMers are matched in loyalty and fanaticism only by U.S. Marines - that this word likely reached Mountain View ahead of the rest of us. Wouldn't be surprised to see some degree of low level (below DOJ radar) coordination surface.

      But that's speculation. The news for the customer community is positive in any case.
    • Who cares? Only Microsoft shills!

      ANYTHING that takes money away from MS is GOOD!
      No More Microsoft Software Ever!
      • troll alert

        in an article that for once has nothing to do with Linux OR MS, yet, there he is, lurking under the bridge. Don't feed it!

        The views expressed here are mine and do not reflect the official opinion of my employer or the organization through which the Internet was accessed.
        • his name says it all

          How do you expect to be taken seriously with an alias like that?
  • Great news!! Great to have some competition!!

    Validates what Google is doing.
    • Conpetition is always good - for everyone, ...

      ... including the players. It doesn't necessarily validate Google apps though. It only indicated that IBM thinks it can offer its customers somethign more than Google can offer those customers. And IBM is right. Whether or not the enterprise ever embraces cloud apps remains to be seen. Frankly, I am not sure that they will.
      M Wagner
    • Exactly right

      Glad that Google will have some competition. It'll serve as an incentive
      for them to keep coming up with new stuff and to make their tools more

      Even as is, I'm very satisfied with my Google tools.