Keeping the dream alive ?

Last week I read an interesting post over on Ed Brill’s Blog :

ZDNet Australia: AHL ousts Exchange for Lotus and Ed’s comment :

“Another merger/acquisition story goes in favor of Lotus Notes…”

I thought “Another ?” As if you read Microsoft to Lotus Notes / Domino migrations on a regular basis. I don’t at least. When reading further I noticed that Ed came across this “competitive win” by accident (via Duffbert) …

Looking at the various comments to this post most of the readers seem to agree with me in that analysis.

After reading this “Success story” for IBM I have a few remarks :

… Microsoft’s Exchange collaboration platform will no longer be used by Amalgamated Holdings (AHL), as the diversified Australian company has started standardising its operations on IBM’s rival software Lotus Notes….

Sure this hurts 😉 however… Microsoft Exchange is not Microsoft’s Collaboration platform. It is an email / calendaring platform which is part of the collaboration platform. I guess ZDnet should know this …

… The Notes consolidation work is part of a larger technology refresh project being carried out by local systems integrator IMC Communications, who will do work in over 100 of AHL’s sites nationwide. …

…”They’ve got corporate-wide business applications that run on Notes as well, so it sort of made sense to bring the mail across from Exchange to have everything run on the same platform.”…

All to often the Domino applications are a point of discussion. Which makes sense, because the company has made investments to create them and most likely they are depended on some / all of the functionality. But have they really analised the applications ? …. assessed their functionality ? ….reviewed their relevance ? In today’s world it is not uncommon, especially with a large technology refresh project underway to rationalise applications, no matter the platform. I am not saying this company would have made a different decision, but they would have had more insight to their decision most likely …

… AHL is also in the process of migrating around 1500 PCs from the unsupported Windows NT platform to the latest versions of Microsoft’s XP operating system and Office XP software suite, with its servers moving to Windows Server 2003 R2…

The latest versions ? Office XP was introduced some 5 years ago ! Maybe Office 2007 would have been to much of a leap for this company (coming off of Windows NT and Office 97 or 2000 most likely), but Office 2003 would have been a better choice. This makes you wonder how this project was approached and why they settle for older versions.

Anyway .. back to Ed’s claim ..  “Another merger / acquisition goes in favor of Lotus Notes…”

I went over to the IBM Website to check out the most likely huge list of competitive wins …

Here are according to their website the most “recent” competitive wins (checked on 17/12/2006) :

  • CCPOA: May 2006
  • Baleno : May 2006
  • Municipality Prostejov : June 2006
  • ASTORplast Klebetechnik : June 2006
  • DOV Pharmaceutical : March 2006
  • Vernon Carus : January 2006

It seems the commenters to Ed’s post are right : There is not much to write about I guess. But someone has to keep the dream alive …


Microsoft on the other hand is doing very well in moving Lotus Notes clients over to the Microsoft platform; even those with Domino applications 😉 Don’t take my word for it, check the case studies, check the market analysis.

Always good to check the Microsoft website for some recent casestudies :

December 2006 :

  • Hommes & Process
    Software Provider Adopts Dynamic Collaboration Solution for Internal Projects
    Executives at Hommes & Process, a major French distributor of collaboration solutions based on Groove® Virtual Office, now part of the 2007 Microsoft® Office system, wanted to apply their expertise internally. They deployed an early version of Office Groove 2007 to a group of testers, who found the solution to be a convenient collaboration tool for the company’s highly mobile workforce and a dynamic environment for working across firewalls.

November 2006 :

  • Endsleigh Insurance
    CRM Solution Supports Insurance Company Growth and Offers Seamless Integration
    The IT architecture at Endsleigh Insurance, which was based on Lotus Notes, was stifling the company’s ability to take on new prospects. Employees were frustrated by the time-consuming nature of the system, and the reliance on paper-based processes was impacting security. Working with Microsoft® Gold Partner Ciber, Endsleigh Insurance implemented Microsoft Dynamics™ CRM as part of an overall initiative to standardise on Microsoft technology. Having installed the solution, the group then upgraded to Microsoft CRM 3.0 to give each team access to information relevant to their division, without having to search through an entire database. The upgrade also lets the teams benefit from the seamless integration of Microsoft CRM and Microsoft SQL Server™„Reporting Services, improving the efficiency of staff and letting them take on board a wave of new prospects.
  • Hauser
    European Transport Company Boosts Customer Service with Integrated CRM System
    Hauser is an International haulage company employing around 130 people across England and Scotland. It strives to deliver a fast and reliable service and the company must have an IT infrastructure on which it can rely as it found that as a growing company, its existing technology was not flexible enough to handle the growth of its business.
  • Industrial Technology Research Institute
    Research Institute Replaces Lotus Notes with Exchange Server 2007 Messaging Solution
    The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) is a nonprofit research and development organization in Taiwan. Comprising more than 20 technical and research centers, ITRI needed a messaging solution that met the needs of each group and the organization as a whole. ITRI had outgrown its IBM Lotus Notes e-mail system, which was unable to handle the growing volume of messages. Wanting a secure solution that would accommodate multiple user domains, ITRI replaced its existing e-mail system with Microsoft® Exchange Server 2007.
    The new solution offers enhanced calendar and e-mail management features and gives users options for remote and mobile access. The system is far more stable and reliable, and administrators are able to enforce more stringent access and security policies.
  • Universitätsklinik Aachen
    University Clinic Cuts IT Management Costs with Next-Generation Messaging System
    University Hospital Aachen (UKA) houses all patient care services, including medical and dentistry faculties and student training, under one roof. At such a large organization—with more than 5,500 employees treating 160,000 patients and training more than 2,700 students a year—communication is critical. The UKA messaging system, based on IBM Lotus Notes 6.5, was increasingly expensive to administer and failed to integrate with third-party core applications. To optimize resource management and develop mobile communications, UKA started the migration to a Microsoft® Exchange Server 2007 environment as part of the Rapid Deployment Program (RDP). The hospital has already seen better performance, synchronization of mobile devices, and improved integration with the 2007 Microsoft Office system and third-party applications. What’s more, UKA has cut administrative costs considerably.

Anyway … lots of them : Please check if you want more …

Peter de Haas
Peter de Haas

Peter is gedreven door de eindeloze mogelijkheden die technologische vooruitgang biedt. Met een scherp oog voor het herkennen van oplossingen waar anderen slechts problemen zien, is hij een expert in digitale transformaties. Peter zet zich met volle overgave in om individuen, teams en organisaties te begeleiden bij het ontwikkelen van nieuwe vaardigheden en het implementeren van innovatieve oplossingen.

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12 reacties

  1. The flaw in this logic assumes that all of IBM’s latest wins are public, which they’re not. We seem to have this silly rule at IBM whereby we actually wait for a customer to have success before making them a reference.
    On the other hand, you’ve linked one case study, ITRI (link is broken, by the way), where it is claimed that the customer rolled out Exchange 2007 — a product that only RTM’d last week. The case study is dated November 16, well before RTM. There are no details in the case study about how the migration took place. In fact, if you read the case study carefully, applying the usual Microsoft filter, you can tell that it’s almost certain that the rollout was not complete by the time the case study was authored — perhaps it wasn’t even started (other than the IT architecture phase). There would, after all, have to be some good explanation of why an organization that was such a laggard as to still be running Notes R5 from 1999 would be the first off the block to deploy unreleased beta software.
    You can also spot my favorite Microsoft reference story techinque. Read this sentence: “Open Lab at ITRI has created a solid foundation to support unified messaging.”
    That says absolutely NOTHING about whether ITRI intends to use this feature or not, it’s just thrown in as a reference to some new marketware that is part of what they could potentially use as part of this product’s features.
    It reminds me of the press release Microsoft put out in January, announcing a number of Lotus to Microsoft migrations — two of which never actually happened.

  2. Odd. Customers flow back and forth between MS Exchange (mail) and Lotus Notes (for mail) all the time.
    However, some “success stories” you have – where you’ve “successfully migrated someone from Notes” just focus on the mail. As we all know, MS just dont have a collaborative application instructure that can compete. Hopefully beyond Sharepoint 2007, this might happen.
    So a “successful” migration is where the customer gives up a secure, robust messaging system (notes) and then implements Exchange mail (shared mail architecture based on the creaky JET engine). Usually, hardware requirements go up (Less users per server for stability and space reasons), and of course Exchange doesnt (and still doesnt!) support active/active clustering.
    The customer then has to support TWO separate infrastructures, as the Notes applications cannot be migrated (unless they are the simplest of out-of-the box applications) and are usually business critical.
    I take you back (yet again) to a large 70k customer in the UK who STILL has to maintain Exchange 2003 (and has it in constant “intensive care” status as it just isnt stable), and has to support a 70k notes application infrastructure too. In order to cure stability issues, they now have to migrate to Exchange 2007 – and of course 64 bit windows. Not a happy customer. yet this is probably one of the bigger MS “conversion” successes ? Is that why they’re eyeing up the migration BACK to notes in the next year ?
    Against all this, and against the lack of new features/stabilty in Exchange 2007 (still no active/active clustering, still on JET, still limitations on mailbox size), you’re touting a customer who claimed to have went Exchange 2007 before 2007 went to manufacturing ?
    I think the phrase “people in glass houses shouldnt throw stones” spring to mind ?
    I mean – ten out of ten for enthusiasm here, but three out of ten for making a convicing business case.
    —* Bill

  3. It gets more and more fun to read these reference stories.
    For The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Labour BMWA: The case study was just published, but this migration started six years ago. It took them four years to completely phase out Lotus Notes (in a 500 employee organisation!). They are running Exchange 2000, not even the latest version, and make no mention of when they will upgrade.
    For Universitätsklinik Aachen: They have only migrated 300 out of 7000 mailboxes. They say that one reason for migrating was that Exchange integrates with SAP, as if Lotus Notes doesn’t (in fact, Notes has better integration with SAP than Exchange does). And last, the section of the case study labelled “Enhanced Reliability of Messaging System” says nothing about reliability, just something about how being 64-bit makes the system more “responsive”. I guess in MS lingo, responsive = reliable.
    Some of the case studies found at that link aren’t even Notes migrations. The Novartis story, for example, mentions Lotus Notes as one of the existing technologies in place, but says nothing about a migration. Same with CSC and Addidas.
    Then there’s the Banque de Luxembourg, where again, the deployment had only reached 70 of 500 people at the time the case study was written. Here it appears that a case study got past the case study police, because it says “Of course, opting for a beta version means things do not always go according to plan. For example, during the migration, the software’s technical documentation was not yet complete. And the company experienced odd bugs along with a few technical limitations of the Cluster Continuous Replication (CCR) feature.”

  4. @ Ed (Comment 1 and 3)
    With regards to case study “challlenges” I guess it is the same in Microsoft. It takes time to produce them. Also some of them may reflect older technology, which is unfortunate as some of them may have upgraded in the meantime as well.
    My overall objective with this post is to give my point of view (as shared with the readers of your blog looking at the comments) that the majority of the “exodus” is 1 direction; namely to Microsoft. Anyway thanks for the analysis of our casestudies.
    I have read the IBM case studies also, so the “fun factor” is not unique to Microsoft if you understand what I mean. I guess we both know well enough how this works with case studies and that the actual strategic argument is often less expressed that we would like it to be 😉
    @ Bill (comment 2)
    I don’t agree with you on MS not having an infrastructure that can match Domino with regards to collaboration infrastructure. There eveidence enough out there. I did not put forward these specific business case examples as “proof” or “business cases” to illustrate that there’s also applications being migrated. There is …
    And yes we are all aware of the lock in Domino apps could represent, but fortunatly enough the opportunity to overcome these objections to maintain the legacy are getting better.
    I personally hope we can get some of the Dutch case studies processed in the near terms as they are “all inclusive” and deal with the perception of email only migration …
    The UK bank example again is a case I am not familiar with, so very hard to comment on

  5. Peter, at the time that decision was made XP was the most recent desktop OS. Vista was only RTM in November. As for the other arguments, such as “Employees were frustrated by the time-consuming nature of the system…” and “…ITRI had outgrown its IBM Lotus Notes e-mail system…”
    I’ve used many horrible applications programmed in VB. Should I blame Microsoft, or the person who designed the horrible system? Domino can scale to tens of thousands of users on a single box. How many servers and administrators did ITRI replace Domino with? I’m willing to bet it’s some exponential increase in both.
    I’m not an IBM apologist by a long shot. I’m ticked off that they are forcing customers into deploying WAS, and if I don’t hear the answers I want at Lotusphere I’m going to be very active in moving away from Domino as quickly as possible. However, there is no good alternative at the moment. Microsoft’s collaboration solution is a mix of at least five products: Exchange, IIS, SQL Server, Sharepoint Portal and Active Directory, plus development tools. For the average small to medium business that’s simply too much.

  6. Charles
    I know this case was in the “pre-Vista era” however, it was “post Office XP”.
    I am not debating that Microsoft implementations are less complex compared to Lotus Notes Domino. Also Microsoft has many complexities when you look at Office MAcro’s, Access databases and Excel “applications” The point I wanted to make with this post is the fact that Microsoft and it’s partners are doing a very good job when it comes to moving organisations over from Lotus Notes / Domino to the Micrtosoft platform …
    I am also aware of the “moving parts” discussion you are referring to and agree that for some small size SMB organisations this can be rather complex. A very good alternative in this case is the fact that Exchange and SharePoint and also in some cases Live Communications Server are offered as hosted services.

  7. I’m not sure that any of the case studies linked prove that “Microsoft and it’s partners are doing a very good job when it comes to moving organisations over from Lotus Notes / Domino to the Micrtosoft platform”.

  8. Peter, for what it’s worth, our users largely hate Office 2003 and flat out refuse to use Office 2007. Their single biggest complaint is that many of the features they use (like Print Preview) aren’t in the Ribbon. They can’t customize the Ribbon so they end up with an impossibly long toolbar full of buttons.
    Furthermore, I’m a former MCSE and MCSD, and I find the moving parts to be overwhelming. I firmly believe that a single person cannot be proficient enough in all the components to effectively implement, manage and maintain all of them. I work for a SMB with 300 employees and we get by with 3 people in IT. In order to support the MS collaboration environment we would have to send everyone else through loads of training and add at least one person.
    To the subject at hand, can you point me toward a single company that is under 500 employees that has successfully replaced complex Notes and Domino applications with a Microsoft solution?

  9. @ CHarles,
    Would * exactly* 500 users be ok :
    I do understand you point with regards to organisation size and knowledge required.
    1. Companies do not have to implement all functionality and could for example start with Windows Server 2003 (includes Windows SharePoint Services) + AD + SQL + Exchange.
    Ofcourse we could again argue that this is complex, but even I can install and maintain all of this and I’m not even an MCSE. There’s also plenty of knowledge / partners in the market that could help design / implement and even maintain this inframdstructure
    2. Various parts could, depending on the organsiation size / requirements be hosted / SAAS such as email and SharePoint; so basicly all of the above mentioned services. As you may now there is a large list of providers providing hosted exchange / sharepoint.
    I am sorry by the way to see the struggle with Office 2007 and the ribbon.
    Customisation can be done as Microsoft has mae the developement stuff available for this to ISV’s for example.
    Funny to see that print preview is so hot, as WYSISYG is a relatively good alternative 😉

  10. We’re obviously on different sides of the debate regarding the relative complexity of Microsoft’s collaboration solution. I don’t think it is appropriate to make collaboration so complicated that people have to outsource it or have legions of IT people to support it. It’s not rocket science, but I do feel very strongly that collaboration solutions are being made more difficult than they have to be. Ockham’s Razor has been nowhere near the design process of any of the implementations I have seen. Domino came the closest, but if it’s any consolation IBM is working diligently to match the complexity of Microsoft’s ICE.
    Did you mean that the partner doing the migration (Binary Tree) has 500 users? Because the document you provided states: “RSM McGladrey has more than 7,000 employees…”

  11. @CHarles,
    Yes I noticed to late that I overlooked the # employees … It showed 500 employees in the casestudie tool, but my mistake 😉
    I just looked but can not find an SME example at the moment. I will have a look later on bbut right now I’ve got a traffic jam waiting :-(.
    Again I do agree with you that for smaller size orgs the solutions need to be simple. I also agree with you on the statement about IBM (ofcourse 😉 )

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