Lotus, one of the forgotten names inside IBM’s software division, is getting a face-lift with new technical and marketing programs through the ISV Advantage partner program.

This initiative is in support of increased adoption of Lotus Workplace solutions across IBM’s 65,000 independent software

vendor (ISV) community and business partners worldwide.

IBM, just this morning announced that 200 ISVs have signed on to its ISV Advantage program. Started in April of last year, the program’s goal was to have a mere 100 ISVs in the program.

Leslie Givens, program director of developer relations at IBM said the growth is in the mid-market and IBM looked across its partnership strategy and tried to adapt it to take advantage of the market opportunity.

“”Our goal, we though, was aggressive to get 100 partners and we surpassed it at 200 signings,”” Givens said.

The ISV Advantage program will advocate Lotus Workplace technical enablement and go-to-market activities along it partner base. The program also helps to promote Lotus Workplace as one of the core offerings for ISVs to develop collaboration solutions tailored to SMB and vertical industries such as consumer online selling in retail and automotive dealer portals.

There are more than 75 ISVs in North America in the ISV Advantage

program. ISV Advantage partners in Canada include Interchange Solutions, Geac, Insystems, Loki Management Systems, Plastisoft, Triversity and Tecsys.

One third of IBM’s revenue comes from partners. Partnering accounts for 3/4 of IBM’s revenue in SMB, Givens said.

Two of Lotus’ signature products Notes and Domino will now have a traditional Lotus Workplace-like interface. With this partners and ISVs do not have to make any significant changes to a customers collaboration infrastructure.

Notes and Domino will also include Lotus Instant Messaging and an enhanced connection technology to help Microsoft users leverage Domino collaboration without having to replace Outlook.

According to Givens, in the next 18 to 24 months customers will be forced to make a strategic platform decision either with Microsoft .Net or the On Demand e-business route with J2EE or Linux.

“”We want them to understand the growth opportunity for On Demand. If you look at the On Demand market it is on a growth trajectory. We have to help partners to help their customers make the decision on open standards and make the move to On Demand to expand their business,”” she added.

With that, IBM has released a software package that bundles Web-based collaboration and a portal environment called the IBM Software Solution for On Demand Workplace.

Priced at US$400 per user, it includes Lotus Workplace Messaging, Team Collaboration, Collaborative Learning, Web Content Management and WebSphere Portal.

Overall, the ISV On Demand market (the ISV operating environment plus utility services markets) will grow from approximately US$40 billion in 2003 to upwards of US$90 billion in 2008, Givens said.

The traditional ISV market (the packaged applications and externally hosted application markets) essentially will be flat, only growing from a little more than US$38 million to a little more than US$41 million in the same period, she added.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s .Net platform has more than 2.5 million developers as of mid-2003 building more than 300 commercial applications, said one source close to the company.

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