IBM Sends SaaS With Hosted Messaging Rollout

New Lotus Notes Hosted Messaging service will compete with Google GMail and Microsoft Exchange Online

Big Blue upped the ante in the software as a service (SaaS) space this week with the release of a hosted version of its venerable corporate e-mail software. The new Lotus Notes Hosted Messaging service, announced on Wednesday, is the latest SaaS application from IBM.

Priced at $10 or less per seat, the hosted version of Lotus Notes is expected to compete with Google Gmail and Microsoft's Exchange Online in the medium-to-large e-mail business segment (1,000 to 10,000 users).

IBM's SaaS offerings to date include Sametime Unyte, a Web conferencing software, and Bluehouse, a collaboration service for extranets.

Lotus Notes uses the Lotus Domino Messaging infrastructure to manage the service. Both applications are at the forefront of IBM's foray into "new markets such as iPhone users, social networking and unified communications clients," according to IBM's announcement.

Non-hosted versions of Lotus Notes and Domino have more than 140 million users and are used by "more than half of the largest corporations in the world," the announcement added.

IBM's vice president Kevin Cavanaugh stressed the benefits of SaaS.

"Software delivery models such as cloud computing, software as a service, and hosting are evolving because companies want flexibility," Cavanaugh stated in the release.

Sparks may yet fly in the SaaS market, especially as larger software firms get involved.

For instance, In June, Google's Gmail messaging service displaced an existing premises-installed Microsoft Outlook and Exchange e-mail solution at one of Australia's largest IT networks -- that of the New South Wales Department of Education. A three-year $9.1 million Google hosted e-mail deal supplanted a three-year $33 million deal struck with Microsoft.

-- Herb Torrens