IBM is touting LotusLive as the next best thing in cloud collaboration, with two recent wins: Ariba and SugarCRM. So what does LotusLive mean heads-up against Google Apps or Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS)? Here's what IBM is saying about their cloud...

IBM says their partner wins with Ariba and SugarCRM are the onset of increased adoption of the LotusLive public cloud services. For the uninitiated, LotusLive provides email, web conferencing, social networking and service collaboration all through IBM's cloud. IBM's monster of a press release also details a whole slew of other small businesses that are adopting LotusLive services for their day-to-day computing needs. Unsurprisingly, the users love it.

IBM is certainly on the right track with the cloud: IBM cites an IDC research number that puts cloud service expenditure at $44.2 billion by 2013. LotusLive is aiming to take a chunk of that $44.2 billion by providing public, private and hybrid cloud approaches.

So why should the channel care about what could easily be a fluff press release? Easy. It's competition against other players like Google and Microsoft. If you're an IBM channel partner, you now have a plethora of company use-cases to point as a LotusLive reseller. It's clear that IBM is really feeling confident about their solutions, too. In December 2010, Sandy Carter, VP, IBM Software Group Business Partners and Midmarket said there were huge partner opportunities with LotusLive and IBM.

But how does IMB's fare against the competition? IBM's investment in cloud computing may be robust, but there's still something in a name. With Microsoft's constant offense on the Lotus brand in general, and Google's continuing proliferation and maturation of their services, it's anyone's guess if partners will align themselves with Big Blue as they reach out into the wild blue yonder that is the cloud.

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