IBM adds voice, IM to Lotus Foundations

Linux-based appliances target SMBs

IBM/Lotus later this month will add a real-time communication version to its Lotus Foundations lineup, which is targeted at small and midsize businesses looking for a single appliance to support unified communications and collaboration.

The company introduced Lotus Foundations Reach Wednesday and highlighted the integration of capabilities from IBM's Sametime Unified Telephony platform, giving users the ability to add VoIP into their collaboration environment. The platform supports both desktop and soft phones.

IBM Lotus Foundations is an emerging set of server appliances based on Intel hardware and the Linux operating system. The appliances offer up collaboration features in a single platform for small businesses with little or no IT support.

"We are making these things modular so users don't have to buy more than what they need," says Bob Picciano, IBM's general manager for Lotus Software.

IBM introduced the platform last year as an answer to small business software from rival Microsoft called Windows Essential Server Solutions, which includes the latest iteration of Small Business Server.

Lotus has a Foundations Start version and a Branch Office version.

With Reach, IBM also is providing instant messaging and presence awareness to the base platform that includes e-mail, calendars, contacts, Lotus Symphony productivity tools, network security, remote access, and file and print sharing.

Reach also includes support for rich text, time stamps, spell check, emoticons, multi-way chat, built-in VoIP and point-to-point video, optional file transfer, integrated chat histories, location awareness, contact list with type-ahead and search, and contact business cards.

IBM also announced that Envision, NextiraOne Mexico, ShoreTel, and Speech Design have joined its collaboration partner program.

Also on Wednesday, IBM/Lotus introduced two widgets for use with Lotus Notes that support travel management and social networking.

The TripIt widget helps users combine trip details into one online itinerary regardless of where travel plans were booked.The LinkedIn widget lets users access the popular business social networking site from the Notes client.

Both work with Notes log-in credentials to provide single sign-on to TripIt and LinkedIn.

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