The disruptive forces of Enterprise 2.0 may seem to provide the new players with a certain opportunity for companies looking at new ways to streamline but also scale productivity and innovation.
But can these small companies really make any dent in the market when they face the giants that increasingly offer similar services? Sure, the new players innovate. But look at the size of the channel that a company like IBM has to market its services.
Of course, to win, it takes high quality products, too. But IBM seems to have a contender with LotusLive. In January, IBM announced a big win with Panasonic. And today comes news that in the last two months, IBM has signed up 200 reseller partners to sell the LotusLive service.
LotusLive is available as cloud-based or on-premise, which correlates to IBM's hybrid approach. IBM is investing heavily in the cloud but Lotus Foundations plays an important strategic role as an on-premise offering. And as of today, Lotus Foundations will be packaged with its DB-2 Express database. There are no limits on the database size nor limits on the number of databases per server.
We saw a demo of Lotus Foundations at Lotusphere in January. it is essentially an appliance that a small business can keep on-premise. The addition of the database means that a customer may use it with an internal application it uses. For example, a small retailer may use an application developed for its market sector.
The new features to Lotus Foundations comes as Microsoft plans to discontinue its Windows Essential Business Server (EBS). In a blog post, Microsoft said the service will be discontinued as of July 1. The company cited the advent of cloud computing as a factor for discontinuing the service:
Since the launch of EBS, several changes have occurred that drove our decision to streamline our server product portfolio. First, midsize businesses are rapidly turning to technologies such as management, virtualization and cloud computing as a means to cut costs, improve efficiency, and increase competitiveness.
Smaller companies competing in the enterprise collaboration space do not have the channels like those from a company like IBM. They have to be a player in the earliest stages of the market in order to gain any traction. We see some examples of this with companies integrating with Sharepoint and Google Apps Marketplace.
These smaller companies do disrupt the market but can only go so far when they face a competitor that commands a channel as deep as IBM's.