IBM is building tighter integrations between its Lotus Notes e-mail suite and SAP enterprise software.
The company used last week's Lotusphere user conference in Orlando, US, to unveil the IBM Lotus Notes Suite for SAP Solutions, which provides integration between SAP and the calendar, time tracking, contact management, report generation, approval workflows and other common business tasks within Lotus Notes. The product is due to launch in the first half of 2006.
Along with SAP support, IBM has been bolstering third-party support for its e-mail platform, with third-party device manufacturers and software providers announcing plans to develop versions of their products to support Lotus Notes and Domino.
At the conference, Research In Motion said it would support IBM Lotus Domino 7 with integrated IBM Lotus Sametime on its Blackberry handheld devices. Nokia said it would support Notes and Domino in its Business Center mobile application platform.
IBM has also released Sametime 7.5, an instant messaging business application that works with instant messaging platforms from AOL and Yahoo.
With the software, which works under Lotus Notes and Domino, IBM is aiming to offer users a single platform from which they can click a button to send e-mail, chat using instant messaging, or hold a video conference, telephone call, or website-based discussion.
Sametime 7.5 also features "presence", which automatically displays a user's physical location and allows up to five people to talk on the phone simultaneously.
David Ferris, president and senior analyst at Ferris Research, said, "Lotus has been pumping thought and resources into Sametime, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future."
Although these developments demonstrate the viability of Notes and Domino, IBM's e-mail platform is still missing some of the functionality available in its main rival, Microsoft Exchange.
Jim Mofatt, founding member of Lotus user group Collaboration, said IBM needed to develop its real-time collaboration technologies to offer a better alternative to Microsoft's Live Comm- unications Server.
Other plans revealed by IBM at Lotusphere included improved support for the Apple Mac platform, with an integrated Sametime instant messaging client. Notes version 7 and Domino Web Access are being developed to work better with Apple's OS X v10.4 Tiger, and there are also plans to support Apple's Intel-based Macs.