At the kickoff of IBMs annual Lotusphere conference in Orlando, Fla., Microsoft announced a series of tools to help Lotus Notes/Domino customers take advantage of the unified communication and collaboration innovations that are being delivered as part of the recently released Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, the 2007 Microsoft Office system and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 technologies, said Elisa Graceffo, group product manager of Microsofts Office Business Platform Group.
In separate news, Microsofts tour bus touting the benefits of the new Windows Vista operating system, the new Office productivity suite and other Microsoft advancements will be in Orlando at the same time as Lotusphere, which runs Jan. 21-25, although there is no word on whether the bus will drop by the conference venue.
Microsofts new offerings include a suite of tools for managing transitions from IBMs directory, messaging and application solutions, as well as templates for SharePoint products and technologies, which simplify the creation of customized applications for common business scenarios.
"Were seeing a lot of momentum based on the release of the 2007 Office System, including Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007," Graceffo said. "A lot of Lotus Notes customers are interested."
Graceffo said there are three components to Microsofts Jan. 21 announcement. The first is the Microsoft Transporter Suite for Lotus Notes, which enables users to move their messaging and directory services as well as their Notes infrastructure, and move data from template-based applications to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Graceffo said.
The second component is Role-based Templates for SharePoint My Sites, which enable users to create customized portals for employees to find information and tools needed to do their jobs. Some of the templates included are for roles such as financial analyst, staffing specialist, administrative assistant, customer services representative, IT engineer and marketing manager.
The third component is the Windows SharePoint Server 3.0 Application Templates, also known as the Fantastic 40, Graceffo said.
This set of 40 templates makes it easier for users to build customized applications for common business workgroup processes, and includes templates for sales and marketing tasks, HR and finance processes, business and IT operations, project management needs, and vertical applications for education, health care, professional services, retail and financial organizations, Microsoft said. In addition, organizations can use the Microsoft Transporter Suite to migrate data from template-based Notes applications to these Windows SharePoint Services application templates, the company said.
Bob Sutton, senior product manager of SharePoint products and technologies, said in addition to the template scenarios listed above, some other popular scenarios include a call center scenario, a sports league and support for the compliance process.
What the Transporter Suite is all about is "youve got an environment on Lotus and you want to move to Microsoft, how do you get that data over?" said Erik Ashby, senior program manager of Microsofts Unified Communications Group. "We used to have a set of tools, and now weve consolidated that into a single suite. Whats new is that its all combined; its integrated."
Moreover, Ashby said, "theres a lot of legacy data on these [Lotus Notes-based] legacy systems that could get a lot of value from migrating to the Microsoft platform."
Microsoft said some of its partners, such as Relavis, which used to be an exclusive IBM partner, are basing new practices on the Microsoft platform.
"I think today is a great time to switch to Microsofts collaboration platform," said Jay Lendl, Microsoft Practice vice president for Fujitsu Consulting, the consulting and services arm of the $40.6 billion Fujitsu Group and a Microsoft strategic global system integrator, in a statement. "We believe that whether you are a large or small company, this platform will deliver unprecedented predictability, rich features and cost-effective solutions for customers."
Indeed, Microsoft maintains that more and more companies are making the move to its unified communication and collaboration platform because of its integrated set of capabilities as well as new innovations including support for wikis, RSS feeds, blogs, social networking tools, unified messaging and VOIP (voice over IP) integration. And according to analyst estimates, Microsoft represented 52 percent of the integrated collaborative environments market revenue in 2005 and experienced double-digit growth year over year the two years before.
Microsoft said customers will be able to download the new tools and templates within the next 30 days at no charge here.