IBM Lotus To Launch Low-Cost Hosted E-mail Service

IBM Lotus iNotes, targeting small and mid-size businesses, is designed as a more lightweight, lower-cost service than the more fully featured Lotus Notes that's also offered through LotusLive. The new service will carry a subscription fee starting at $3 per user, per month.

"We're taking Google and Microsoft on directly with this capability," said Sean Poulley, vice president of online collaboration services at IBM Lotus. "It broadens our LotusLive offerings in a key area," he said. LotusLive, which debuted earlier this year, also offers Web conferencing services and on-demand collaboration applications, among others.

IBM Lotus is pitching the iNotes service to companies that want to adopt a cloud computing-based e-mail system, but are looking for alternatives to Google Mail -- which has been plagued with service outages recently -- and other Web-based options. "People are paying more attention to true business-level availability," Poulley said.

Such businesses are also looking for e-mail services that are more secure and backed by the kind of service and support offered by LotusLive, he said.

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LotusLive iNotes is based on technology IBM acquired in January when it bought Outblaze, a Hong Kong-based provider of messaging and collaboration services.

IBM Lotus channel partners can resell the iNotes service under the LotusLive banner and integrate it with other applications. But the technology has a unique administrative model -- one of the reasons IBM acquired it -- that in the future will allow IBM Lotus solution providers to white label the e-mail service with their own brand, Poulley said.