IBM plans to officially launch an email service Monday that aims directly at Google and Microsoft.
LotusLive iNotes offers an email, calendaring and contact management system that is intended to compete directly with Gmail and Microsoft Exchange. IBM's bare-bones service, geared toward companies, will sell for $3 per worker per month or $36 per worker per year.
IBM's package is built on technology assets purchased from the Hong Kong-based Outblaze. Big Blue, which did not purchase the entire company, used the assets to build a cloud computing center nearby.
In comparison, Google's package cost $50, but the Mountain View, Calif. company also throws in video channel, calendar, word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications.
IBM Spokesperson Michael Azzi says LotusLive iNotes is the company's lowest-priced and first cloud computing-based service designed from the Web up, complete with security features. "More people and companies are moving to Web-based email services," he says, citing stats from research firm Gartner that estimate that 20% of all email seats will be in the cloud by 2012.
Although there are cost benefits, companies need to consider security, hackers and attacks. Critics say cloud computing can leave companies vulnerable. But Azzi insists the new email service relies on IBM security features that support other computing applications.
Security issues haven't stopped companies from researching cloud-computing email services. In the past year, Forrester has fielded more than 100 inquiries about the impact of the cloud on email and collaboration. The report, "Inquiry Spotlight: Cloud-based Email, Q3 2009" analyzes the impact of cloud services on email, cost-saving opportunities, and what vendor companies should consider. Forrester built a model that companies can use to get you started.
Forrester Research analysts and authors of the report -- Christopher Voce, with Ted Schadler, Simon Yates, Ben Echols and Alex Crumb -- suggest segmenting the company's workforce based on needs. When evaluating the cost to move email to the cloud, companies also should consider how it affects existing licensing agreements with vendors.
As part of the service, IBM will push emails to mobile devices; provide a personal calendar to organize professional and personal events; keep track of personal contacts and access the corporate directory and distribution lists; and provide customizable anti-spam and virus protection.
IBM also will officially announce Monday that Nokia has adopted LotusLive iNotes. People can get their first email address and manage accounts on many Nokia models without a PC at all.
Aside from the Web-based email service, IBM recently introduced a new way to get Lotus Notes email on iPhones. The Web-based application allows people to access Notes mail through the Safari mobile browser on the iPhone. Administrators need to install IBM Lotus Domino Web Access 8.0.2 to make it work.