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Lotus sets social networking tools, collaboration updates as focus for '07

By , Network World
January 22, 2007 09:05 AM ET

Network World - ORLANDO -- IBM/Lotus opened its annual Lotusphere conference Monday saying its focus going into 2007 would be on the user and to prove the commitment the company unveiled new social-networking and content collaboration tools, and an upgrade to its real-time communications server.

“The end user, that is the part we are spending the most time on today,” said Mike Rhodin, general manager of IBM/Lotus kicking off a two-hour keynote that featured a handful of announcements, demos and a guest appearance by astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the moon.

Armstrong outlined the history of the U.S. space program and his own efforts to use space exploration to help understand the world and universe.

Lotus on a smaller scale hoped to have the same dramatic impact on its end user population and the collaboration software it has been providing for years.

“We are going to make the end user the hallmark of Lotus,” Rhodin said. “We have concluded that Web 2.0 has relevance to you.

The tools just have to be made ready for business.” Rhodin said readiness includes adding such controls as security and directory integration.

Rhodin and a parade of Lotus executives then went through a list of announcements including Lotus Connections, a bundle of new social-networking tools, Quickr, a content-management platform, news on Notes/Domino 8 including a planned public beta in February, Sametime 7.5.1 slated to ship before the end of June with new video capabilities and platform support, WebSphere Portal Express 6.0 and a programming model not formerly named that cuts across platforms.

“We are seeing the largest expansion of our software portfolio,” Rhodin said later at a press conference. “It is a dramatic expansion in capabilities, better integration and seamless connectivity.”

At the press conference, Rhodin also confirmed the death of the Workplace platform that Lotus has been using over the past year in an attempt to bring together the Notes/Domino and WebSphere platform.

“The one thing that you told us, the analysts told us, is that we were confusing the hell out of [users] between Workplace and portal, so we listened and made it one thing,” Rhodin said. “ A lot of Web stuff in our products was invented by the Workplace team, and it has been harvested and folded into new products and it is bringing new life to our core brands.”

Some of that product is in Lotus Connections, which was formerly code-named Ventura.

The platform features a collection of social networking tools IBM has used internally over the years, including a bookmark-sharing application called Dogear that was the darling of last year’s Lotusphere IBM Innovation Lab, which shows off emerging technologies.

Connections, slated for release before the end of June, also lets users share workflow-supported lists of current activities work in well-defined online communities and create a hyperlinked blogging environment.

The software is designed to help users' relationships grow based on a blending of work being done within formal applications or activities such as blogging and bookmarking.

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