Lotus Learning Management System
Meanwhile, IBM's new Lotus Learning Management System is scheduled to ship in February. "We'll actually be the first NextGen product, because we'll be out before NextGen Mail," according to Andy Sadler, IBM director of e-learning.
The first edition of Learning Management System will be offered on AIX, Sun Solaris,Windows 2000, and Intel Linux platforms. Support will later be added for IBM OS/400 and Linux on zSeries. WebSphere will be embedded in the system, which will run with a choice of either DB2, Oracle 8, or SQL Server databases. Lotus is providing free upgrades from its earlier LearningSpace product.
Apart from its NextGen architecture, the new product will differ from LearningSpace by supporting additional kinds of learning beyond just e-learning -- such as software-based course catalogs -- and by working with third-party software complying with the ADLScorm specification.
"A lot of our customers have been using multiple educational software products in their various departments. Now, we're starting to see a movement among IT people to consolidate. No department wants to give up what they already have, however. So we needed to have a framework configurable to supporting many different products, as well as many different looks-and-feels," Sadler said.
Sametime Everyplace 3
Also at Lotusphere, Sametime Everyplace 3 was launched, expanding IM and presence awareness beyond devices like PocketPCs and Palms to the latest breed of cell phones. IBM has also signed a deal to integrate Sametime Everyplace with AT&T's cellular network, for a new service offering known as "AT&T Wireless Business Solutions for IBM."
"We also plan to start using WebSphere and DB2 on the back end (of Sametime Everyplace)," said Jeremy Dies, senior offerings manager, Advanced Collaboration, at IBM.
In Other News...
In the midst of all these changes for Lotus, ICE second-runner Microsoft has made news by purchasing PlaceWare, a leading Web conferencing company.
Elliot M. Gold, president of the TeleSpan market analyst firm, noted that Microsoft is widely expected to integrate PlaceWare into the next edition of Microsoft Exchange.
Microsoft already has a conferencing product called NetMeeting, which is based on technology originally built by Databeam. "NetMeeting, though, became used a lot by teenaged gamers," according to the analyst, who specializes in Web conferencing products.
Interestingly, Gold observed, Lotus ended up buying Databeam, and then used the acquired company's technology inside its Sametime client.