Lotus has made a foray into the emerging applications service provider market with the release of an initiative to allow ISPs to host customised Domino systems for large customers.
Dubbed Intercommunity, the service will be offered in Europe by British Telecom, France Telecom, Interliant and IBM Global Services, with more partners due to be announced in September.
The initiative is expected to encourage organisations to set up their own online communities that allow them to collaborate electronically with suppliers, customers and members.
The ISPs will own the applications and hosting infrastructure and charge for their services on a per user basis.
General manager for the telco and ISP group at Lotus Emea, Paul Taylor, said many large organisations wanted to share applications with suppliers and customers, but for security reasons were loath to allow them inside their corporate firewalls.
“The feedback we’ve received is that the free portal model has not worked for business to business sales,” Taylor said. “We’re seeing a trend towards trusted environments as an entry point for real ecommerce on the Web."
“Under this model, the applications are securely stored at the ISP and can be accessed via browser,” he added.
The initiative will allow large organisations to coerce their suppliers and customers in the SME sector into moving online at minimal cost.
“Small companies don’t need to invest in infrastructure - they just need browser access to an environment which is specific to their business,” Taylor said.
Intercommunity customers could either absorb licence fees themselves or pass them on to users, he said. The service is being trialled by a number of pilot customers and is commercially available immediately. Pricing is based on which applications are used.
In addition to joint marketing activities with ISPs, Lotus will use its own direct sales force to sell the concept, which it hopes will attract millions of users over the next two years.
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