We wonder if Ray Ozzie ever thought that he would someday looking from Microsoft's executive suite to see IBM release his Lotus Notes creation into the cloud.

That's what IBM did today. Lotus Notes is now as much a cloud platform as it has ever been with a set of new features that have traditionally only been available on-premise. Before we dive into the details of the news, let's look at Lotus Notes from a historical context.

In 1973, David Wooley created PLATO Notes, an online message board. According to Wikipedia "Ray Ozzie worked with PLATO while attending the University of Illinois in the 1970s. When PC network technology began to emerge, Ozzie made a deal with Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus Development Corporation, that resulted in the formation of Iris Associates in 1984 to develop products that would combine the capabilities of PCs with the collaborative tools pioneered in PLATO. The agreement put control of product development under Ozzie and Iris, and sales and marketing under Lotus. In 1994, after the release and marketplace success of Notes R3, Lotus purchased Iris. In 1995 IBM purchased Lotus."

After several years at IBM, Ozzie left the company and later started Groove. Ozzie later sold Groove to Microsoft, which used it to create Sharepoint. Today, Ozzie serves as one of the architects for Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud initiative, which competes directly with IBM in the race to move applications to the cloud that for years have resided on-premise, solely operated on personal computers.

LotusLive Notes includes rich email, shared calendar and instant messaging for $5 per user per month.

LotusLive delivers email, Web conferencing, social networking and collaboration.
In the new release, LotusLive's traditional service can be packaged with LotusLive Notes for $10 per month.

In addition, IBM is launching a service called Communities. It provides the capability to extend collaboration to external communities.

Extending community collaboration is definitely a trend we are seeing in the social enterprise. It's a core feature to Yammer's new platform. StatusNet offers a federated social platform. Sociacast and Socialtext offer similar functionalities as does Jive Software.

What the new release does not offer is a layer of predictive analytics, which we expect should become a standard on collaborative platforms. IBM does offer Charts, which allows users to visualize data. Chart is based upon ManyEyes, the IBM data visualization technology.

LotusLive is also adding two new partners.

Platforms that integrate third-party applications are becoming the norm more than the exception these days. It's becoming a rare thing in some ways to see platforms that do not integrate APIs.

IBM is focusing on integrating core apps that are key to business processes. Existing integrations include Salesforce.com, United Parcel Service (UPS), Skype and LinkedIn.

New integrated services in this release include:

Tungle, an online scheduling and calendar provider. People may import their LotusLive contacts into Tungle.me, access their Tungle.me accounts from within LotusLive, and click to meet contacts from within the LotusLive interface.

Bricsys, a provider of cloud-based document, data, task and report sharing, has integrated its Vondle Live services with LotusLive. With the serviice, users may view and annotate documents right from the browser. Vondle Live Viewer supports more than 70 file formats.

Overall, the LotusLive Notes release does not feel that dramatic. It's only with its context in history does the true meaning of its next progression begin to illuminate and we see how connected IBM and Microsoft are to developments in collaboration and the cloud.