IBM Enlists 200 Channel Partners For Its LotusLive Cloud Services

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Leading with its LotusLive and Lotus Foundations products, IBM is making a play for customers and channel partners who may have been left hanging by Microsoft's recent decision to discontinue its Windows Essential Business Server.

Friday IBM said it has signed on more than 200 channel partners to carry the company's LotusLive cloud services in the two months since it debuted the LotusLive partner program at Lotusphere.

Earlier this month Microsoft said it would halt development of Windows EBS on June 30, apparently due to slow sales. EBS, targeting midmarket customers whose needs had exceeded the 75-user limit of Microsoft's Small Business Server, was launched in late 2008 with a lot of fanfare.

"We can rely on IBM to address our midmarket customer needs, unlike Microsoft who has left us in the cold with this abrupt withdrawal of Enterprise Business Server," said Bernie Leung, CEO of Mesa Technology, an IBM business partner, in a statement. "I will invest more with our IBM partnership and guide Small Business Server customers to move to IBM since I don't see how resellers can make more money or avoid channel conflict with Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite."

LotusLive is IBM's collection of on-demand communication and collaboration applications. LotusLive has been available for more than a year and now has more than 18 million users. Lotus Foundations is the company's appliance product that packages together Lotus Domino, directory services, file management, Web hosting and other software.

"Microsoft is fully committed to SMBs and the partner who support them. This year we've grown our investment in solutions for small- and midsize businesses, and you can see that investment reflected in the new capabilities of Windows 7, Office 2010, Small Business Server, Windows Foundation Server, and the Business Productivity Online Suite," said Birger Steen, Vice President, Small and Medium Business & Distribution, Worldwide Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partners Group, Microsoft Corp., in a statement.

"The best thing we can do for our SMB customers and their partners is deliver a strong lineup of products they want to consume, in the way they want to consume them " and midsize customers have overwhelmingly told us their preference was to mix and match technologies on top of Windows Server 2008 R2. We will also continue to offer Windows Foundation Server, Small Business Server and the individual components of EBS," he said.

Friday IBM said it would integrate its DB2 Express-C database into the Lotus Foundations product.

IBM Lotus is promoting its products under a hybrid model with customers adopting Lotus Foundations and Lotus applications for on-premise use and LotusLive for businesses that need to collaborate with suppliers, partners and customers outside the firewall.

IBM Lotus said partners who are working with LotusLive services include Ascendant, Insight, Integrasys, Intercall, PGi and Silanis.

Daniel Lieber, president of Innovative Ideas Unlimited, a Wakefield, Mass.-based IBM Lotus partner, said IBM has been offering channel partners LotusLive trial accounts to help seed the market. Lieber said that makes it easier for resellers to demonstrate the value of the services to potential customers.

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