In this article, we give an overview of the IBM® LotusLive offerings and describe their unique features. In subsequent articles in this series, we examine each offering in more detail.

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Amit M. Surana (amitsurana@in.ibm.com), Software Engineer, IBM

Amit Surana has been with IBM India Software Labs from November 2007. Amit is currently part of the LotusLive Integration development team focusing on integration of various products and services in LotusLive for customers. His research and development interests cover a broad range of current technology trends including Atom, REST, JAX-WS, OSGi, OpenSource, Web 2.0, and Eclipse related technologies. You can reach him at amitsurana@in.ibm.com.



Dattatreya S. Vellal (davellal@in.ibm.com), Software Engineer, IBM

Dattatreya S Vellal has worked for with IBM India Software Labs since July 2007. He is associated with the LotusLive team for usability testing and LotusLive usage scenario development. His area of interests includes Eclipse-based technologies, Expeditor on devices, and cloud computing. You can reach him at davellal@in.ibm.com.



Rajkiran Guru (Rajkirang@in.ibm.com), IT Architect, IBM India Software Labs

RajKiran Guru has been working with IBM since 1999. He is the Technical Lead and Architect for the LotusLive Customers Integration Center. Guru also plays the role of Technical Evangelist, enabling partners, customers, and IBMers on LotusLive capabilities. He has published several articles for developerworks and external publications and has co-authored two IBM Redbook publications. You can reach him at Rajkirang@in.ibm.com.



14 October 2009 (First published 08 September 2009)

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Introduction

In the early 1980s, when technologies were still maturing, meeting a person meant physically going to a location and talking with him or her. For a business person who had to interact with a lot of people, this approach was a hindrance, especially when the parties were located in different geographical locations. The time wasted in traveling, the financial overhead, the stress involved, and the geographical differences were all important factors to consider when deciding to hold a business meeting.

Online collaboration tools have greatly alleviated these issues by allowing a business to concentrate on business rather than travel. IBM realized the need for online collaboration tools to manage its vast enterprise and has dedicated research resources to developing and deploying collaboration tools internally. IBM has now brought these collaboration tools to the market for benefit of their customers. LotusLive is a comprehensive portfolio of these state-of-the-art collaboration tools that are applicable to organizations of all sizes, from SMB enterprises to large organizations.


Cloud computing and software as a service

Cloud computing, like Web 2.0, can mean different things to different people. Most experts, however, define cloud computing as a style of computing where IT services are delivered over the Internet. Software as a service (SaaS) is a software delivery method that leverages the cloud computing model. SaaS utilizes the cloud to deliver services, but it provides an application that is owned, managed, and delivered by a vendor, with little to no upfront investment by the customer. The SaaS application is usually made available on a subscription basis, and it provides guaranteed levels of service. Services are usually made available through a flat-rate subscription fee or on a pay-per-use basis.


IBM LotusLive

LotusLive (www.lotuslive.com) is a portfolio of online services, hosted by IBM, that delivers scalable, security-rich email, Web conferencing and collaboration solutions. LotusLive is delivered through the SaaS model. LotusLive services provide users with new ways to work more effectively with people inside and outside their company, including customers, partners and suppliers, at a very predictable monthly rate.

These business-optimized services are free of advertising or customer data mining and are not consumer applications that have been repurposed for business. The integration of the services gives users the functionality of three or more products in a single offering.

A cost-effective alternative to on-premise deployments, LotusLive provides the right functionality at the right cost to business users; it can save time and money by delivering only what users need to be successful. This delivery model, combined with simplified online collaboration, makes it easier to do business with virtually anyone, anywhere, any time. LotusLive provides these offerings:

  • Web conferencing, including IBM LotusLive Events and IBM LotusLive Meetings
  • Collaboration, including LotusLive Engage and LotusLive Connections
  • Email, including LotusLive Notes® and LotusLive iNotes®

Figure 1 shows the currently available offerings in the LotusLive portfolio.

Figure 1. Service offerings
Service offerings

IBM LotusLive aims to provide flexible services that suit a wide range of requirements.

  • For organizations looking to host virtual online meetings that can accommodate 15, 25, or 1000 guests, LotusLive provides LotusLive Meetings. Accessed through the Web, LotusLive Meetings can take place almost anywhere, anytime, with anyone. LotusLive Meetings can help enhance team productivity, shorten sales cycles, and contain travel costs.
  • For organizations holding several Web seminars or training events and that want event management capabilities along with Web conferencing, LotusLive provides LotusLive Events, an online event management service.
  • To connect with customers or colleagues in the organization, LotusLive provides an innovative solution with its LotusLive Connections offering. LotusLive Connections delivers integrated online social networking and collaboration tools for networking, business instant messaging, and more.
  • For organizations requiring a unified platform to connect to their business partners, share information, organize online meetings, and use instant messaging capabilities, LotusLive provides LotusLive Engage. LotusLive Engage is an integrated suite of tools that combines your network with Web conferencing and collaboration capabilities.
  • Every organization requires a full-fledged mail client with rich features, security, and easy setup. LotusLive Notes adheres to these requirements and is an online service accessed using the IBM Lotus Notes client. This service supports all of the features of a locally installed client connected to the IBM Lotus Domino® back-end services that are hosted by IBM.
  • For corporate workers who don’t currently have access to corporate email or those who are over-served by feature-rich collaboration capabilities that they don’t use, LotusLive provides a different solution in the form of LotusLive iNotes. LotusLive iNotes is an online Web mail service that features essential email, calendaring, and contact capabilities, multi-level administration, and branded interfaces. LotusLive iNotes can coexist with an already existing on-premise email solution, or it can be operated as a stand-alone solution.

These offerings, when leveraged together, can help you be more productive in business. Organizations can choose to use services or combine them with traditional on-premise servers in a variety of ways to meet their needs.

For example, one hybrid solution is to purchase the LotusLive iNotes offering and integrate it with your company’s on-premise mail. LotusLive iNotes helps to reduce the cost of licensing on-premise mail clients for every user in organization who might not need them.

LotusLive provides the organizations of interest with a variety of hybrid solutions based on their requirements.


Click to Cloud

LotusLive is built using open Web-based standards and industry-accepted architecture. The open business model allows LotusLive to be easily integrated with applications acquired from another vendor.

Click to Cloud is the ability to seamlessly link on-premise solutions with LotusLive services; it can help customers extend the value of their existing investments by making it easy to bridge solutions across the firewall to the cloud. For example, LotusLive activities can be accessed using a Lotus Notes plug-in that can run on an employee desktop system inside the organization. The LotusLive activities plug-in allows users to work offline with activities and synchronize with LotusLive when they are online. Similarly, the store and share library plug-in can let users upload, share, edit, or delete any file. Another example is the LotusLive Meetings plug-in for Lotus Sametime, which lets users initiate meetings in the cloud with their contacts from their internal IBM Lotus Sametime® environment.


LotusLive Mobile

LotusLive Mobile, now in its beta stage, is an initiative to make all the services of LotusLive available on smartphones and other mobile devices. The smartphone application allows access to the LotusLive network and collaboration services, including Webcasting services, instant messaging, and more, from the mobile device. LotusLive Mobile enables its users to collaborate on the go using RIM BlackBerry smartphones and other mobile devices. The application allows users to attend meetings while simultaneously listening to the audio conference for a completely mobile Web conferencing experience.

The beta version of LotusLive Mobile provides features such as attending meetings, viewing the entire participants' list, chatting with participants during the meeting, and adjusting the presentation screen using zoom features.


Administration features

LotusLive administrators create and maintain organizational information in terms of licenses allowed, branding, and security keys creation, for example. LotusLive also provides fine-grained administration capabilities to customers. An organization's administrator can do the following:

  • Manage provisioning and deprovisioning of users in the organization.
  • Generate exclusive reports and bills for LotusLive Meetings usage. The report generated is in XML format and consists of details on meeting usage and lists of hosts and participants.
  • Modify the company profile and change company themes.

Security features

The security controls deployed for LotusLive provide privacy and controlled authorization to sensitive information while enabling business operations.

The LotusLive Engage approach to security is based on three pillars:

  • A security-rich infrastructure. LotusLive Engage is deployed in a hardened data center, which provides physical protection to systems and data. Network security is provided by high-performance, state-of-the-art firewalls. All client communications are encrypted with strong encryption algorithms, through SSL on HTTP calls and through RC2 in the Lotus Sametime instant messaging protocol. System backups are encrypted.
  • Policy enforcement rules. The LotusLive authentication policy is provided by IBM Tivoli® Access Manager software, which provides single sign-on for registered users to all LotusLive components and authenticates those users to each other. Unregistered (and unauthenticated) users are allowed to join meetings.
  • Human-centered security. LotusLive Engage provides security in the context of business collaboration with colleagues, partners, and customers. For example, there is a single view of a file that provides all sharing and upload information, giving the user full information on the security of that file in the context of file use. It shows who a file has been shared with, who has downloaded which version, and what comments have been made on a file.

Some organizations might want to authenticate their members directly to LotusLive, controlling all aspects of the authentication credentials of their users. IBM Tivoli Federated Identity Manager provides support for service providers, such as LotusLive, to accept identity assertions from organizations, using standards-based protocols such as SAML and OpenID. Partner integration can also require authorization controls to enable specific applications access to user data; OAuth can provide those controls.

Figure 2. Partners and ISV integration
Partners and ISV integration

LotusLive is intended to provide a complete business solution for customers. LotusLive supports business partner application integration. Currently, IBM has announced partnerships with Skype, LinkedIn, and Salesforce.com that deliver integrated collaborative solutions to its customers worldwide.

The partnership with LinkedIn, an online social network of business professionals, lets LotusLive users search public profiles in the LinkedIn network and then instantly collaborate with those users using LotusLive services.

Integration of Salesforce.com services with LotusLive services within its CRM solutions helps simplify and improve customer interactions. Businesses can extend the customer and opportunity management work done in the Salesforce CRM application with the collaborative capability of LotusLive.

LotusLive has also partnered with Skype to integrate its voice and video with LotusLive to create a seamless communications experience. This integration allows LotusLive customers to call Skype contacts from within their LotusLive contacts. Web meetings with Skype calls can reduce the total cost of hosting meetings.


Conclusion

LotusLive allows users to exchange information and meet online to collaborate without security concerns.

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