Please note that IBM Lotus Live has been discontinued and is no longer available. You can read our old review of IBM Lotus Live below, or check out the rest of the Web Conferencing Services we've reviewed.
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IBM Lotus is a suite of applications which all integrate to provide a custom solution for all your web conferencing and collaboration needs. The main web conferencing tools are Meetings and Engage, and these are the two we will concentrate on here. Both are very well developed applications that offer reliable and robust web conferencing tools with an attractive and easy to use interface.
Essentially Lotus Meeting is a cut down version of Lotus Engage. Engage provides tools for hosting web conferences, instant messaging, publishing project information, managing projects and collaborating on work. Meeting provides the same conferencing tools, but without the extra project management and instant messaging integration. The meeting functionality allows a presenter to share their desktop with all the participants and easily pass control to them. A standard subscription provides support for up to 15 participants, but with add-ons this can be upgraded to 1,000.
One of the main ideas behind Engage is to try and integrate social networking, instant messaging and online collaboration into one package. This makes it a useful tool for keeping track of business contacts and easily sharing ideas and working together on projects. Contacts don't have to be from within your own company and Engage provides features for allowing anyone into your online meetings.
Both Lotus Meeting and Engage provide support for text chat style communication during meetings. Presenters can broadcast audio and video from a webcam, but must relinquish control to a participant to allow someone else to broadcast. It might have been useful to include VOIP support or provide an additional audio conferencing facility, but if you want this you have to provide you own solution.
IBM products are usually thought of as some of the most reliable in the industry and Lotus Live is no exception. Everything worked perfectly in our tests and we had no problem figuring out how the different features work. Security is also not an issue as all communications are encrypted using SSL technology.
IBM Lotus Live provides some good tools for web conferencing, but they do lack the facility for audio conferencing within meetings. This makes them more suited towards giving presentations online rather than fully interactive meetings. The extra features Engage provides for managing projects and contacts online can be very useful for some businesses, but are perhaps not for everyone. Free trials of most of the Live products are available so that you can test out the features before buying.
Please note that IBM Lotus Live has now been discontinued.