IBM SmartCloud Docs, a potential Google Docs and Microsoft Office 2013 alternative, has officially launched. More than a public cloud SaaS platform, IBM (NYSE: IBM) also intends to offer SmartCloud Docs in a private cloud model, and channel partner program announcements are expected.

Talkin' Cloud has been predicting the IBM cloud suite's debut for a few weeks now. IBM's Ed Brill confirmed the launch in a blog post today, and an official announcement is expected within days.

IBM is pricing SmartCloud Docs with two approaches:

  • US$3/user/month;
  • or at no additional charge as part of the SmartCloud Engage Advanced package (US$10/user/month).

IBM says SmartCloud Docs has file compatibility with Microsoft Office, OpenOffice and Symphony.

In his launch blog, Brill offers this additional info. He wrote: "Want to learn more about IBM SmartCloud Docs? There are plenty of resources. Today the SmartCloud Social website is updated; the spec sheet is available here; there is also a channel announcement. Later this week there will be a press release. On December 13, TechRepublic will be hosting a webcast featuring IBM Docs product manager Sean Brown, along with Jim Lundy, CEO and Lead Analyst of Aragon Research. There will be sessions at IBM Connect 2013, and many other opportunities to learn ahead. For a 60-day SmartCloud Social trial, sign up here."

IBM Countering Microsoft Office 365, Office 2013 and Google Docs?

Is IBM taking aim at Office 365 and Google Docs? By preparing a channel partner program, it sounds like IBM certainly is serious at SmartCloud Docs. But I also think this is going to be a learning experience for Big Blue.

Over the past few years IBM has gradually deemphasized the Lotus brand while reinventing the Lotus code base for new or disruptive market opportunities. SmartCloud Docs is one example of that effort. In the classic top-down IT model, where CIOs drove software purchasing decisions, I think SmartCloud Docs will earn serious consideration. But in the bottom-up IT model, where new hires and event students bring their own cloud applications to work and influence corporate IT decisions, I think IBM will face serious challenges.

Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365 are battling for the hearts and minds of K-12, college and university students. Those students will enter the workforce with either a Google Apps or Office 365 mindset. I wonder if IBM is willing to throw its weight around in the education market as well.

More importantly to Talkin' Cloud readers, we expect to speak with IBM in the next few days about SmartCloud Docs. We'll be sure to pose channel partner program questions to Big Blue's leadership.