Category IBM/Lotus Linux Ubuntu
The good news is that IBM understands Lotus collaboration as dead-central to their "Smart Work" initiative. Bob Picciano, the Lotus GM, has written up his attack points at CIO.com
, and then took time for a conference call with some bloggers
(thanks to Nathan Freeman for his transcript).
There is more to Picciano's analysis than a C-level,
marketing cold-call for reducing cost. I'm reading his words as a shift into the core strengths of the Lotus platform, and a revitalized effort to engage customers. Not just customers as in Enterprise Businesses, but customers as people who are as diverse as those with strained resources in developing economies, as well as those working with mashups against huge data-centers. It's a smart message.
The timing is late for Lotus.
What Lotus Notes does well, no one else can touch. But, IBM's competition delivered a smoother GUI earlier, provided more appealing hosting options, and created lock-in by tying the customer's assets into a single platform. The years of building out with Workplace, the slow maturation of Sametime, an awkward UI to Notes (pre-8.5), and weak data integration with Domino has taken a toll on the public image of Lotus.
Lotus Notes is the only collaboration platform that can be delivered as a full-featured client on Linux, Macintosh and Windows. That is an amazing capability. Yet, even in the Ubuntu Linux stronghold of Free Open-Source Software, there is no recognition for Domino, and very little for Notes. That is a stunning disconnect.
The Ubuntu 199 Exam Objectives
actually requires Linux System Administrators to understand the process of integrating with Microsoft Exchange:
125.4 Configure Evolution mail client (Weight: 2)
Description: Candidates should be able to configure Evolution to work with a variety of server types and mail protocols. This objective includes the secure configuration of POP3, IMAP, SMTP as well as the integration with an Exchange mail server. Candidates should also be able to set up filters in Evolution to manage spam and other email.
Key files, terms, and utilities include:
IBM has all the right pieces to build a new customer base, but that opportunity has many challenges. I think a lot of the Lotus faithful have become so accustomed to being an underdog, that there is a community expectation that no one but the Disciples of Domino understand the product. Many of us who have lived with the rise of Lotus Notes have accepted an industry insulation that lacks appreciation for our virtues in security and stability. It's a mistake to ignore public perception.
Google Apps is awesome. It's becoming it's own trend, and university after university are discarding their messaging infrastructure for Google's. And, Microsoft ? Their Exchange 2010 is just not half-bad. It's had a serious update, most of which was cooked off-stage with little pre-announcements, and it's scheduled for an early debut. They have also done a great job in building up a hosted solution, and that has been years in the making. And like it or not, Sharepoint is taking up a lot of oxygen.
It is possible for Lotus Notes to adapt and morph into a platform which is better accepted. But first, there needs to be a hard stare at some tough realities. Rejected technologies never rebound.
Let me point out a famous struggle between Microsoft and WordPerfect. The European Committee for Interoperable Systems has just published their findings in support for the EU Commission's recent preliminary findings, on January 15, 2009, that Microsoft violated antitrust
law. On page eleven, there is a chart of the dominance of Microsoft Word
over Wordperfect. Look at that curve for Wordperfect, because it's the shape of a plumetting demise that never, ever recovers.
Technologies just don't have comebacks. Companies might readjust, but no one is going to revisit Token Ring or fire up the Iridium satellite network and SmallTalk will never resurge. The trajectories of technology on a down slope are boringly consistent at SimplyHired.com
Smart Work for Lotus is going to have to extend beyond new economies of lower cost. Bob said that it takes smarter people to implement the Smart initiative. That's a good line. I'm hoping it has many meanings. I'd like to see real integration and interoperability into other open-standard and open-source platforms. It'd be great to have Lotus Symphony as a pre-load on Netbooks. The pricing of the Ubuntu PPA for Lotus Notes (and marketing) needs to be nudged forward. Even LotusLive holds promise.
Smart Work is going to be hard work, but IBM/Lotus can rebuild if they are working towards a new base.
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