IBM throws down the collaboration gauntlet
The companys latest version of its Domino messaging
server takes aim at market leader Exchange. Shivani Shinde reports
For the first time there is a solution that offers better
capacity and productivity to users while using fewer computing processes
Development & Tech Support Workplace, Collaboration &
IBM launched Lotus Notes Domino Version 7 recently. According
to IBM, version 7 promises to have better features and enterprises that can
make a seamless transition from the previous version using the smart upgraded
feature. With the offering for both the enterprise and the SMB segment, IBM
is perhaps trying to gain ground over Microsofts Exchange, which has been
giving IBM tough competition.
The version 7 has some interesting features for boththe
end users as well as for the IT administrator. Craig Hayman, Vice-president,
Development and Technical Support, Workplace, Collaboration and Portals, IBM
believes that the software is uniquely positioned in the market and has set
capabilities for the end users, IT administrators and business owners, in terms
of costs and seamless integration to the workplace.
With respect to features, version 7 supports more users per server and is capable
of reducing CPU usage by 25 percent, better integration with Web services and
much more. According to Hayman, during internal application at IBM, the systems
administration reported about 35 percent reduction in CPU usage with about 50,000
users. The IT teams in various organisations can delay hardware purchases.
For the first time there is a solution that offers better capacity and productivity
to users while using fewer computing processes, says Hayman.
Says Alok Shende, Director, ICT Practice, Frost and Sullivan, In terms
of features though, there are no dramatic differences from version 6.5 but for
administrators it has some good news. The new version promises to reduce overheads.
An incremental innovation above version 6.5 family is that it allows one to
increase the percentage of collaboration and keeps track of communication.
Hayman feels that for an end user too the new version has much to offer. For
e-mail, users have been provided with colour coding option, which makes the
user immediately aware of the sender. Similarly, there are options of finding
out which e-mail message is to be sent, or has been sent or needs to be replied
- IBM Lotus Domino Messaging server software
starts at an SRP of Rs 62,034 per CPU
- IBM Lotus Notes software starts at SRP
Rs 4,378 per client
- IBM Lotus Domino Web Access 7, IBMs
Web-based messaging client, starts
at SRP of Rs 3,052 per client
- IBM Lotus Messaging Express (this is for
the SMB segment) starts at SRP Rs 4,162 per client
An advanced collaboration platform is finding favour
in the market vis-à-vis pure e-mail applications
E-mail as a collaboration tool does not suffice for all organisations. Shende
says that collaborative tools can be differentiated into two levels. One is
a standard collaborative package, which would have internal corporate e-mail
as its principal feature. The other would be an advanced collaboration platform
that encompasses much more than e-mail. We feel that the advanced collaboration
platform would also incorporate features of knowledge management. This would
be an intermediary between e-mail-based applications and knowledge management,
According to Frost & Sullivan research, the compound average growth rate
of the collaboration market for the year 2004-08 has been around 44.4 percent.
For the year 2005, the Indian collaboration market was worth $7 million,
and by 2008 we expect it to reach at least $17 million, adds Shende.
An advanced collaboration platform is finding favour in the market vis-à-vis
pure e-mail applications. Many experts believe that many business processes
on Notes have seen incremental difference in performance; they are of the opinion
that Domino 7 increases the opportunities for workplace collaboration. In many
ways, IBM is a leader in collaboration platforms.
According to IDC, the collaborative applications market in India during 2004
was valued at $12.1 million. Representative vendors in this category are IBM
(Lotus/Domino), Microsoft (Exchange/Outlook), Novell (GroupWise), Oracle and
the Open Source Sendmail. Microsoft and IBM are the major players in integrated
collaborative environment and messaging applications.
Though IBM has been strong contender in the enterprise segment, with the launch
of the latest version of Domino it is targeting SMBs too. Lotus Notes
Domino Express is for the SMB segment. It supports 100 to 1,000 users. For the
enterprise segment the user support is from 1,000 to 100,000, says Hayman.
Everyone agrees that IBMs main competition has been Microsoft Exchange
and it has been trying hard to get the users to adopt its solution. In this
effort it has endeavoured to make its products work on open standards. Apart
from Notes being integrated to IBMs Workplace office products it runs
on Linux, Solaris and Microsoft Window Server. Shende is of the opinion that
enterprises are not only looking at the technology point of view while looking
at better options but also considering how the applications would bring down
costs, as they have to make huge investments toward enterprise collaboration
Though the competition is tough, Hayman believes that IBM has been doing well.
In 2004 we were able to convert 1,500 customers from Microsoft Exchange
to Lotus Notes. As of now, we have 20 million licences and 60,000 customers.
He reasons out why he feels that Lotus Notes has an edge over Microsoft Exchange,
Our data shows that 40 percent of Exchange users are using version 5.5.
Though they want to move to the latest version, they are not doing so or are
delaying it because it needs a change of server hardware.
Many agree that Lotus Notes outpoints Exchange. Hayman believes that with the
launch of Hanover, the next avatar of Notes, in the first half of 2006 they
should be in a better position. Analysts feel that the launch of Hanover would
permit real-time collaboration. Says Hayman, Hanover would mean complete
compatibility, activity-centric computing, i.e. all activities such as e-mail,
instant messaging, presentation etc., all will be tied together. Analysts
feel that Microsoft has an edge over IBM largely due to pricing.
With growing concerns among the enterprise segment for real collaboration tools
without changing the infrastructure, IBM can gain vis-à-vis Microsoft.
Though IBM does not have the figures to match Microsoft, it does have a feature-rich
version of Notes with an open architecture.
In terms of the Indian market, Hayman is quite upbeat. Some of the major
banks and prominent organisations like Canon, United Breweries, Biocon, HDFC
are our customers. He also feels that the latest version and the scalability
option that IBM is providing are sure to attract SMBs too.
IDC believes that the market for MNCs like Microsoft and IBM is still in the
large and medium enterprise space. The small and medium market is investing
in the basic e-mail applications. Local ISVs develop applications on open source
platforms and they are gaining market share in the SMB space.
Analysts believe that the hype surrounding the release of the latest version
of Domino is due to the fact that though Notes has always been there on the
supply side, it has been the demand for collaborative tools among the enterprise
that is generating hype.