IBM’s Lotus division released a entry-level corporate e-mail software package which targets "deskless" users.
Lotus Workplace Messaging (LWM) is a web-based offering that allows organisations to extend enterprise e-mail to users without a workspace or e-mail access.
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"What Workplace Messaging does is it essentially rounds out a portfolio of messaging products that are available from IBM Lotus. It now allows the factory workers, the retail clerks and the bank tellers - [the] people that don’t have a dedicated workspace and are generally unserved users of communication - [to have access to e-mail] within a company," said John Caffrey, manager of messaging solutions with IBM Lotus.
IBM pointed out that the solution will be cost-effective for companies deploying the offering.
At a suggested retail price of $29 (£17.75) per user, IBM said in many configurations the three-year licence cost for LWM may fall below $1(61p) per user per month.
Caffrey said companies could save money because they no longer have to print out and use the postal service to deliver e-mail information like pay stubs or benefits statements.
"They don’t have to hire people to go around and post stuff on bulletin boards because they can now use the infrastructure, or the extension of that infrastructure to contact and communicate with everyone within the organisation."
Pricing and packaging includes IBM WebSphere Application Server, IBM DB2 Universal Database, and IBM LDAP directory. The software is web-based and is accessible through the browser of any POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) e-mail client.
The offering, which supports several languages, supports Windows 98 and Windows 2000 on the desktop and Windows 2000 and AIX on the server.
It also offers auto provisioning, which means the administrator could enter an individual user into the LDAP directory, via WebSphere, and access to e-mail is provided, Caffrey said.
David Ferris, president of Ferris Research, said on average, about 30% of business people do not use e-mail today. These are the people without a desktop who work on a production line.
"At some point those people will have e-mail that is provided by their organisation. So there is an opportunity there and that is what Lotus is trying to address," Ferris said.
Ferris said Lotus and Microsoft are the two main suppliers to businesses of e-mail systems.
The LMV also fits in line with other fully equipped messaging products offered by Lotus, which include the Lotus Notes suite and the Lotus iNotes Web access products.
He said the main difference between the various products is that the newest addition only offers mail access, and is a scaled-down version of both the Lotus Notes suite and the Lotus iNotes web access products.
The Lotus Notes suite "offers a rich, high-fidelity user interface with access to lots of workflow-based applications. It offers some of the same workflow capability, calendaring and e-mail support, but also offers access via the browser."
IBM Software Services for Lotus provides additional support, including technical services for installation configuration, knowledge transfer and capacity and network bandwidth planning around the offering.