ORLANDO: IBM has announced it will launch a cloud-hosted document-editing tool in the second half of 2012 to help firms collaborate more effectively, as it looks to compete with similar offerings from Microsoft and Google.
The IBM Docs tool will form part of the firm's LotusLive cloud computing platform, which is being rebranded IBM Smart Cloud for Social Business and said it will enable staff to share and edit text documents, spreadsheets and presentations in real-time.
Speaking at the event, IBM product manager Jeannatte Barlow, explained that development of the tool had started two years ago and that the firm would aim to differentiate itself from rival offerings such as Google Docs or Office 365.
"We have approached IBM Docs with the idea that a document is a container of different sections [of information] and so we have made it a flexible item that can integrate more collaborative elements," she said.
"This includes being able to assign certain sections [of a document] to key staff to work on or only allowing staff to see certain portions of a document based on their security clearance levels, as we are already trialing with a government account."
The tool is currently being tested in beta by a number of customers as well as by "several thousand" IBM staff on the firm's internal servers. It will then be made available in the second half of 2012 as part of its wider cloud offerings.
The firm also announced that some customers would be going live with the service as a private cloud deployment in the first half of 2012, while IBM customers interested in testing the tool can access it via the firm's Lotus Greenhouse site.
During the event, IBM also unveiled a number of major updates to its Connections networking tool in order to help boost its collaboration capabilities and social media analysis offerings, as Big Blue looks to muscle in on the growing demand for social tools.
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