Whatever happened to IBM Docs -- the cloud-based word processor, spreadsheet and presentation software suite? It was supposed to potentially compete with Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 and the new Office 2013. IBM discussed the cloud suite strategy back in January 2012 but I haven't heard anything about IBM Docs since that time. Rumor has it that may change soon. IBM offers some background on Docs here. If/when IBM Docs shifts from beta to general availability, the partner strategy will target five audiences:

  • Resellers;
  • Systems integrators that offer integrations to LDAP, single sign-on, email migrations, etc.;
  • Conference service providers that want to deliver online meeting services as their own;
  • Independent software vendors that want to integrate with IBM Docs; and
  • Telecom companies and ISPs that want to white label IBM Docs.

(Memo to IBM: Update your terminology to include managed services provider and cloud services providers -- the two fastest-growing audiences that can potentially back IBM Docs.) IBM Docs essentially emerged from IBM's Lotus business. Poke around and you'll see some major changes underway at Lotus, including the re-branding of Lotusphere as IBM Connect. Just a hunch: I suspect we'll get an IBM Docs update at that show in January 2013, and some early news may leak out in December 2012. An IBM representative at Cloud Channel Summit yesterday was not familiar with the potential Docs strategy. But an IBM partner at the conference said he had been briefed recently and saw an IBM Docs roadmap -- which included some milestones for late this year. Whatever the case, IBM faces intense competition. Many of the world's Top 100 Cloud Services Providers already back Google Apps and/or Office 365. IBM, in stark contrast, has a strong brand in really sophisticated software -- including middleware, business analytics and databases. Increasingly those software components are available via IBM SmartCloud. Whether IBM Docs joins that effort remains to be seen but I think we'll get some answers at IBM Connect (scheduled for January 2013) or sooner.