Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Re-branding the Lotus products: is it real?


By Mick Moignard

Lotusphere 2011 attendees noticed pretty quickly that just about the only official mention of "Lotus" occurred in the name Lotusphere. There was no Lotus Software branding on any of the materials or signage around the event, and the name wasn't really mentioned at all in the opening general session either.

We said then that Connections 3.0.1 would appear as IBM Connections, and it has. Ed Brill told me that you might normally expect that Notes "Next" would appear as Lotus Notes Nine, but that, in fact, all three words in that name were, at the time, up for discussion. Since then, there's been no announcements from IBM as to what's going on, no messages to the business partner community or to customers. What IBM marketing we see over here in the UK is mostly IBM Smarter Planet stuff, with no software or hardware brands mentioned at all.

Recently, at UKLUG in Manchester, UK, we got a little clarity, just a little, and no real specifics. Ted Stanton, IBM's World Wide Executive Consultant for IBM's Software Solutions Group, gave the keynote presentation, and he made some comments about IBM and its brand names.

It's not just the Lotus brand name that's on it's way out, its all of them: WebSphere, Tivoli, Rational, DB2 are all to be deprecated to a greater or lesser extent, and the brand name that everything will carry and be proud of is the IBM name.

Now, reading between the lines a little, I'd take that to mean that these individual names won't all vanish completely, because in some cases they are, or have become, descriptive of the products themselves. Connections may now be IBM Connections, but I suspect that IBM DB2 will always be IBM DB2, give that is the name attached to the core database engine.

I don't think we're going to see another round of well established names vanishing to be replaced by anodyne multiword descriptions, like the replacement of the well-respected Sametime name with IBM Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing, for example. IBM saw the error of that way, and the Sametime name came back. I guess it's likely to end up as IBM Sametime.

Ted said that the rationale for this is to present a sharper and more unified front to the IBM software product ranges, and to break down what have been barriers and discontinuities in the marketplace over what IBM Software actually offers.

IBM have been using one product as part of another for years, examples being Connections comes with a bundled limited-use DB2 license, Domino comes with a Tivoli Directory Integrator entitlement, and so on. It makes sense for IBM to use the plumbing capabilities of their product range as part of other products, and so it makes sense for them to reduce the barriers between them.

Cognos 10 comes bundled with a Connections entitlement. Our own Notes 8.5 comes with sidebar integrations to Connections Activities and to Sametime IM and Presence Awareness. More and more, we assume that all these things will just work together.