A Changing Landscape
But the competitive landscape is changing, and not necessarily in Microsofts favor, with competitors like Lotus Notes embracing open-source solutions for their products. Ken Bisconti, the vice president for IBM Lotus software products, says todays market demands a "dynamic workplace rather than the simple, proprietary e-mail offering that Exchange had morphed into over the years.""Microsoft cant come close to todays real-world requirement for this broader workplace. One that must be built on open standards," he said. IBM also made available its Lotus Notes on Linux product July 24, the same day the second Exchange beta was released. Lotus Notes is now available on Linux. Click here to read more. Arthur Fontaine, IBM Lotus senior offering manager, told eWEEK that millions of Lotus Notes users across the world now have access to software that allows an open desktop alternative to proprietary desktop operating systems. "This product is very important to our customers. We have had the server version available since 1998, but with the growing interest in the Linux desktop, we have had a lot of customer demand for this," he said. The product would let them run Lotus Notes on Linux similar to the way they run the technology on Windows or Macintosh. The underlying technology is based on the Eclipse open-source framework and is the same technology to be used in the upcoming version of Lotus Notes, code-named "Hannover," he said. To help further drive adoption, IBM is offering its business partners that develop Linux-based applications up to $20,000 for migrating customers from Microsoft Exchange to IBM Lotus Notes and Domino on Linux desktop, under an initiative known as "Migrate to the Penguin," Fontaine said. Data Returns Stidley notes that the move by IBM toward a Linux desktop is "definitely something that should put Microsoft on alert, even though it doesnt seem to be an immediate threat." While coupling the Notes client with a functional office suite would certainly start getting the attention of a number of important people, for the vast majority of the corporate world there is little to no incentive to dump the Windows desktop for Linux until it matured and became end-user and administrator friendly, he said. But Glenn Winokur, the CEO of Scalix, a messaging infrastructure company based in San Mateo, Calif., whose products are based on a Linux and open systems architecture, begs to differ, noting that 1 million mailboxes of its software have been deployed. This was not only a milestone for both Scalix and the industry, he says, but suggests that e-mail on Linux has reached the tipping point, with more than 350 enterprise customers around the world having purchased and deployed Scalix, including in the high-tech, retail and service-oriented sectors, as well as among government agencies and universities. Scalix recently surveyed users of its free Community Edition software, which revealed that more than 10,000 Scalix e-mail servers have been deployed with more than a million mailboxes. "Microsoft is right that there is a pent up demand to move off of legacy e-mail, calendar and collaboration applications like GroupWise and Notes. They are wrong that enterprise customers want to lock themselves into another closed single-vendor system. "Enterprise customers want an enterprise Linux e-mail, calendar and integration platform, with open-source community support and choice of clients and directories," he said. This was evidenced by the fact that some 50 percent of the sites switched to Scalix from proprietary legacy e-mail systems including Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes and Novell GroupWise, Winokur said. Check out eWEEK.coms for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.
That is why Lotus Notes offers a broader, integrated workplace beyond e-mail and applications that includes electronic forms, portals, document management, real-time communications and new Web 2.0 technologies, he said.