May 12, 2010, 3:24 PM — While Google Apps may not be a knockout threat to Microsoft's enterprise business this year, a cloud apps battle continues to brew between the two companies. Google and Microsoft are the forerunners in this competition, but other rivalsare nipping on their heels.
Here's a quick look at IBM's Lotus Symphony and Lotus Live, Zoho's suite of cloud apps and OpenOffice.org's offerings.
Lotus Symphony, a set of free productivity tools, includes documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Because it is based on the Open Document Format standard, you're not locked into proprietary file formats, software licensing agreements and upgrades. Unlike Google Docs, however, your files are saved on your desktop--not in the cloud--thus they're only available to you from your computer.
[For more, check out CIO.com's cloud app bible:"Cloud App Wars: Microsoft vs. Google."]
Lotus Symphony's Documents, Spreadsheets and Presentations tools each include many features similar to what you'd see in Google Docs or Microsoft Office. It also supports a variety of file formats and has the ability to export documents to PDFs for sharing purposes.
LotusLive is IBM's suite of online collaboration and social networking services--similar to the Google Apps suite--for your business, hosted in the cloud. Of the six tools included in the suite, you can pick and choose which ones you'd like to adopt.
LotusLive Meetings lets you give presentations to up to 1,000 guests via the Web. Pricing ranges from $6 to $39 per month, per user.
LotusLive Events helps you manage events registrations; host your event and follow up with post-event analysis; e-mail reminders generate automatically. Pricing starts at $79 per month, per user.
LotusLive Connections is part address book, part real-time collaboration tool. You can store and share documents, presentations, bookmarks and content collections; track a meeting to-do list; brainstorm ideas; and talk with business contacts and colleagues via instant messaging. LotusLive Connections starts at $6 per month, per user.
Lotus Engage, is an integrated suite of collaboration tools, that combines your social network with Web conferencing and collaboration capabilities (storing and sharing, instant messaging and activity management). Pricing ranges from $8 to $46 per month, per user.