In the Wheelhouse: Are You Ready for Big Collaboration?

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Leading up to Connect 2013, we're getting a teaser about what IBM is doing with Lotus Notes and Domino.

Written by Steve Pitcher

Special Broadcast: IBM Notes and Domino Social Edition Preview and Announcements


On November 13, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. EST, IBM will release an important set of announcements and previews about the "new IBM Notes and Domino Social Edition beta program, and updated product roadmaps, that truly demonstrate IBM's strong commitment to the Lotus Notes and Domino platform."


Speakers on this webcast include Ed Brill, Director for Social Business and Collaboration Solutions, IBM; Scott Souder, Program Director for Notes, iNotes and IBM Connections Mail; and Daniel Lieber, Innovative Ideas Unlimited.


IBM is expecting to launch IBM Notes and Domino Social Edition in Q1 of 2013. I can't comment on what you'll be seeing and hearing without breaking my non-disclosure agreements. However, I will tell you that you do not want to miss these announcements, especially if you're an existing Lotus Notes and Domino customer. IBM has some wicked stuff coming down the pike in terms of sheer product awesomeness. As part of the existing managed beta for Lotus Notes, I will tell you that I'm very impressed with what IBM has been working on.


Following these announcements and previews is a special edition of the monthly IBM Collaboration Solutions community webcast and conference call. During this webcast, you're going to hear more information and be able to interact with IBM to discuss what's planned for IBM Notes and Domino Social Edition.


It's very encouraging to see IBM make a big deal about Lotus Notes. Please register for the webcast and join the discussion!


Here's the website to register for the announcements and the ICS community webcast.


Speaking of Lotus, IBM Regains 1151 Former Customers...and Makes Noise About It!


Just recently, IBM made information public that in the first three quarters of 2012, 1151 customers who had previously let their Lotus Notes and Domino maintenance agreements expire have recommited to the platform by purchasing new maintenance agreements.


Why does this matter? For a couple of reasons.


First, I think it shows that people have been evaluating their mail and application server platforms over the last few years, and while they could have gone another route (Google Apps being the newest flavor of jumping-off points), they decided that what IBM is currently offering is worth reinvesting in. This also means that those who have seen what IBM is envisioning with the IBM Notes and Domino Social Edition like where IBM is headed in the very near future.


Second, it's a shot over the bow for those who like to tout that IBM is losing oodles of Lotus Notes and Domino customers to competitors. It says strongly that Notes/Domino isn't dead and that you should quit believing the hype. The press has reported some relatively large migrations from Lotus Notes to competitors, but when you look at the case studies, you see a familiar pattern: the mail gets "migrated," which may or may not include all of the archived mail databases. If the archives are not migrated, companies are still using Lotus Notes for their mail archives (with Domino servers to house them) and are using the new product for their mail going forward. Another, and actually more important, pattern is the millions of custom Lotus Notes applications that are in the world today. You see companies that migrate all of their mail to another product, but then run into a major roadblock because of the ten, twenty, or literally thousands of applications that weren't accounted for in the migration plan. What are they going to do with those? Re-write them? Hey, that could get costly. Pay consultants to do it? Hmmm...that could be even more costly. The path of least resistance would be to keep those custom applications right where they are on Lotus Notes and Domino. Companies then not only pay for the "new, shiny email solution" but probably also end up paying maintenance on Lotus Notes and Domino...because those custom applications help run the business.


The cost of migrating very well may not be worth what people get when they get there. It may, in fact, be much more than what they're paying today. Without throwing too much mud, I've done straight math on a number of migrations and can't justify them on a licensing model alone.


I'll propose a very simplistic scenario weighing a migration of only email for 1000 users from Lotus Notes to Google Apps for Business with Vault. I am not taking the migration of any custom applications into consideration. This is strictly email. I'm adding the Vault component for archiving mail and chat, as Lotus Notes does archiving right out of the can.


In this scenario, I'm a customer on an active maintenance contract with IBM, so I'm paying about $50 per user list price (Collaboration Express licensing so I can do clustering) each year for a total of $50k/year for those 1000 users. I'm having a little trouble getting the current USD renewal list price from IBM but if memory serves me correctly, it's about $50 per user at list price.


Google Apps for Business with Vault comes at a cost of $10 per user/month, which equals out to be $120 per user/year for a total of $120k/year for 1000 users. Product licensing by itself is won by Lotus Notes by about $70k/year. That number starts to go up if I also consider things like consultant fees, migration costs, and getting my 1000 users acclimated to the new products. Also, if my users have more than 25GB of mail, then they need to pay an additional premium to Google for more storage. By default, a Lotus Domino database can be 64GB in size. That's more than twice as much as what Google offers out of the box.


But like I said, it's a simplified breakdown. With the on-premise Lotus Notes/Domino solution, I have to take into consideration things like hardware costs, operating system costs, energy, and staffing. Those concerns are limited if I'm running Lotus Domino on IBM i as Domino would be only a minor component of the overall IBM i workload. Does that Domino workload on IBM i equate to $70k/year? I'd lean far away from that for 1000 users. Does my Domino administrator cost $70k/year? Maybe. Does he/she offer other value? Perhaps the Domino administrator spends only 20 percent of the day on Domino, 20 percent of the day on IBM i, and 60 percent of the day doing a little programming and end-user support. If I were to eliminate Domino and add another workload to my administrator's list of duties, the staffing cost consideration becomes irrelevant. Only you can tabulate the true costs of your environment.


Either way, IBM has both a cloud offering and on-premises offering for Lotus Notes and Domino. By releasing these announcements and releasing the information about 1151 customers re-investing in the platform in the first nine months of 2012, IBM is telling you that you do not have to look elsewhere for world-class collaboration software. Apparently, 1151 companies have done the math and decided that sticking with IBM was a better investment.


Notes and Domino aren't going away, and the future looks really bright. Heck, the Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5.3 that's out today is a fantastic product. People are coming to those conclusions, which is why the maintenance renewal numbers are what they are. In my opinion, that's why IBM felt the need to release that information. 


Steve Pitcher
Steve Pitcher works with iTech Solutions, an IBM Premier Business Partner. He is a specialist in IBM i and IBM Power Systems solutions since 2001. Feel free to contact him directly


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