IBM In Denial Over Lotus Notes? Not Really.

from the rivers-in-africa-for-$100-alex dept

As Lotus Notes steadily loses share to Microsoft Exchange, people are seeing similarities to Lotus 1-2-3‘s loss of share to Microsoft Excel. Microsoft Exchange is outselling Lotus Notes by a large margin, and the only reason Notes still has a hold is because of its entrenched install base. Today, all but one of the top analyst firms recognize Exchange as the leading email product. Yet, IBM and its Lotus Notes consultants still continue to claim that they are the “best selling” email product on the market. Sure, it’s marketing spin (and thanks to Gartner, it’s not entirely false), but Forbes is missing the point (and watching too much Monty Python). IBM is milking as much revenue from what it already deems a dying product. IBM is strategically doubling down on its services businesses and getting out of businesses that it deems not core to this goal (laptops, anyone?). Their willingness to exit a commoditized, competitive email software market in favor of growing other, more lucrative parts of their business is actually a good display of discipline. IBM is not hiding their head in the sand on this one — they correctly recognize that the holy grail isn’t email software.

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Comments on “IBM In Denial Over Lotus Notes? Not Really.”

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will says:

notes blows

i hate f*ckin notes. coming from a high capital commercial company (=investment in ICT) to a membership based trade association i work in now, lotus notes is the norm here and it provides a hugely unenjoyable working experience. docstores & the like are utterly pointless, the email client is vile & the only reason we seem to carry using it is the expense of buying a new licence for MS :///

drteknikal (profile) says:

apples and oranges

There’s an underlying assumption that Notes is an email product. That’s inaccurate. Notes is more of a distributed relational database with email functionality.

Many companies bought Notes with big ideas about groupware projects, but fewer ended up with anything worth having. I worked with multiple companies who bought Notes because they “knew they needed it” but werent’ sure what for. Worse, after making these ponderous purchases, many felt they had to standardize on Notes as their mail platform.

I’ve always said that Notes was a good product if you needed what it did and actually used it. I’ve also always said that you should never implement Notes without a very good reason, a mission-critical application, and an understanding of what living in the Notes environment really means. Unless you have a primary application in Notes that you will always need to be running, it’s probably a bad idea to make Notes your email environment.

The interesting thing is that it didn’t start out this way. Microsoft had bought an email product (Network Courier) and so had Lotus (cc:Mail). Lotus introduced Notes as a groupware product, and Microsoft responded by beefing up what turned into Exchange and bundling Outlook. The thing is that what Lotus called groupware and what Microsoft called groupware couldn’t have been more different. Strangely, now that Notes appears to be making its fade, it comes down to messaging, and Exchange wins.

Funny, it seems we forgot what the point was.

digifool (user link) says:

Re: apples and oranges

“Notes is more of a distributed relational database with email functionality” – Your kidding. Notes is more an email client than it is a relational database and it certainly isn’t an email client!
I’ve been a notes developer, administrator and Notes project manager for years and its now so way out of date that I no longer love it, it no longer helps me to do my job but consistently gets in the way – AAARGH! I hate Lotus Notes. Web development is a PITA, the email side of things is very poor and nothing seems to be improving.
I think the biggest competitor to Lotus Notes is not Exchange but ASP.NET/MS Sql Server/Sharepoint etc and I can’t see how IBM can compete with .Net at the moment.

Marvin says:


Actually a critical distinction that seems to have been lost is that the “Notes consultants” are not necessarily “IBM Notes consultants.” Anyone familiar with the story of Netware, another Microsoft roadkill, can readily draw parallels as each product had a strong ecosystem with participants ready to go to the mattresses to support their livelihood. As with Masada, things generally don’t turn out well for the fanatics. IBM is actually quite smart in moving on with both replacement products and other services lines while the fanatics help the company milk the cash cow dry.

Kary Forth says:

Lotus Notes != eMail

Lotus Notes is not an email application. It is a rich client that runs on the users desktop. Microsoft Exchange is not a client application. It is a server.
Web browsers & the Lotus Notes Client may use the Lotus Domino server to access email application databases. The Lotus Domino server IS an application robust enough to use for email as well as an uncountable number of other applications.
Your intent was to compare Microsoft and IBM/Lotus’ servers, wasn’t it?
Have you ever used Notes/Domino? Not just seen it running. Not just opened an email database. Have you ever actually used it?
I’ve noticed that people who make this comparison in the way you have seldom (actually, never, in my experience) have any idea what Lotus Notes actually is.
Making this comparison, is like comparing apples and… a supermarket produce section. They have something in common, but why would anyone bother comparing them? Hmm, I suppose salespeople would do such a thing. Nothing makes your product look better than comparing it to something it has nothing to do with…
“Buy this 17 inch monitor – look at the picture on this baby. The tire dealer across the street hasn’t any 17 inchers (the word ‘tires’ goes unsaid here) with a picture as good as this!”

drteknikal (profile) says:

Re: Lotus Notes != eMail

Yes, I have. Although it has been several years, I used to be a Notes administrator, and was trained and certified on several versions up to Domino.

To clarify, I meant the “relational database” comment in a non-technical way, and should have chosen my words better. Maybe “replicated” would have been a better choice. I wasn’t so much trying to describe how it worked internally, but to contrast it with Exchange. As was pointed out, Exchange is a mail server, Notes is a database, and the clients blur the distinctions.

My main point was that to use Notes for email abasent any other compelling reason for Notes is silly, as is directly comparing Notes and Exchange as similar. If you consider Notes and Exchange to be in the same category, you’re missing most of the advantages of both products, or evaluating one in terms of the other.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Lotus Notes != eMail

The key problem is that about 99% of what Notes is used for in the real world is e-mail, and it *sucks* at that. Yeah, people shouldn’t be buying Notes as an e-mail client, but even if you’ve got some fantastic use for all those other things Notes is supposedly great for, are they worth saddling your organization with a horrible e-mail client?

Sabin Turina says:

IBM exiting unprofitable businesses

IBM isn’t just cutting its losses, it’s downright shrinking. I think it’s great that they can milk the Lotus Notes cash cow, but I think ascertains like this are going to make people think twice about wasting their time with a product that is destined for the scrap heap. (OS2 anyone?)

The fact is, IBM isn’t the company it was 10 years ago. If it still were it wouldn’t be in business. I doubt the IBM of tomorrow will resemble the company we see today. They are pretty much losing their competitive advantage in the pre-packaged software arena, and I think it makes sense for them to get out entirely. What remains to be seen is if customers will continue to buy custom software solutions based upon IBM technologies.

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