Lotus is targeting small business users with a new class of Web software that allows users with limited technical resources to rent space on the Web to run collaborative applications. The applications, based on Lotus? Domino technology, which has previously been targeted mainly at large organisations, will be hosted by Internet Service Providers or Lotus Notes Public Network.
Users of the Domino Service Provider Applications are expected to be small businesses or home workers who do not have the resources to set up their own inhouse Web server, or companies that need a server for just one application. These users can create pre-configured Web pages using a browser.
Domino SPA will offer ISPs a range of value added applications that form a platform for developing software to sell under their own name. In many cases, Lotus expects ISPs to partner with Lotus third party software houses to create Domino applications specific to vertical markets. It will provide business partners with tools to integrate their Domino software into an ISP?s hosting environment.
Lotus claims that users will take only minutes to create their Web site using the ready-to-use applications, which encompass interactive Web pages and internal collaborative tasks such as exchanging research ideas, or project management.
For ISPs, the product set is designed to provide maintenance-free hosting, since the Domino applications are turned on automatically by the end user, who is taken through a step-by-step process of registering, setting up billing records and obtaining URLs, without having to deal with ISP staff. Also automated are tasks such as installing the application and reserving space on the site.
The first Domino SPA is called Action and enables users to create a Web site by filling in a template. The next will be called Collaboration and will enable companies to set up virtual private communities on the Net by creating password protected collaboration sites. Applications are being developed and tested in partnership with Netcom Online Communication.
?By having our applications hosted by service providers, we can reach a new tier of end user,? commented Sanford Cohen, president of Lotus business partner Ergotech.
Sixteen communications carriers now offer Lotus Notes Public Networks and are all offering or developing Domino-based services. Seven now have these services commercially available - BT, Compuserve, IBM Global Network, NTT, Telstra, US West and Worldcom.
Domino SPA will be available with the Action application in the first quarter of 1997. Monthly rental will be set individually by the service providers.
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