Ferris: IBM’s Open Collaboration Client Solution Saves Money?

Very good article by Ferris. An objective analysis of IBM’s approach in the ‘Anything But Microsoft’ strategy. This turn out to be a very costly exercise which brings organisations no rela benefits.

IBM recently presented its Open Collaboration Client Solution (OCCS), in conjunction with Virtual Bridges, to Ferris. IBM proposes that OCCS presents substantial cost savings over the equivalent Microsoft approach. We’re skeptics. …

…  IBM claims that the first saving ($75 per user per annum) is achieved by only purchasing Microsoft software licenses under a Microsoft Select Agreement when installing new Microsoft software (every 3-5 years), rather than entering into an Microsoft Enterprise Agreement and paying an annual license fee. This analysis is based on list prices. This is a false argument. In practice, organizations are able to negotiate Microsoft Enterprise Agreements that eliminate this $75 per user per annum differential. …

This is the case in many of these type of comparisons. Comparing the list prices against an optimised scenario.

For many years, competitors (Corel Office, Lotus SmartSuite) have offered productivity suites at significantly lower price points than Microsoft Office. For some time, Star Office-derived offerings (Open Office from Sun, and more recently, Symphony from IBM/Lotus) have been available at zero cost. We accept that there are users who do not need the power (and attendant complexity) of Microsoft Office. However, these alternative offerings have had little impact on Microsoft’s Office market share.

IBM’s approach also involves a hidden cost. Lotus Symphony is written in Java and runs atop Lotus Expediter and open-source Eclipse, also written in Java. Under Windows and Linux, Java JAR files are treated as data, which considerably increases the memory footprint of these applications. In fact, Lotus recommends at least 1GB of memory to run Symphony effectively. Business users who wish to migrate desktop PCs from Microsoft Office to Lotus Symphony may find that they will need to upgrade (replace?) these PCs at significant cost. In fairness to IBM, users who wish to upgrade to Windows Vista will also require a significant PC upgrade.

Exactly .. “free” in purchasing terms is not free in practice. Migration cost the lack of or limited ISV eco system (so no or little 3rd party solutions), a limited partner eco system (fewer partners providing support often means support is more expensive and scarce).

… Ferris is very dubious about any cost savings that accrue from replacing Microsoft Exchange + SharePoint + OCS with Lotus Domino + Quickr + Sametime, or vice versa. In both cases, Ferris data indicates that migration costs swamp any putative savings. In addition, as with IBM productivity applications (see above), upgrading to Notes 8.x, which is Java/Expediter/Eclipse-based, introduces a 1GB PC desktop RAM requirement. This is a requirement that is not satisfied by the vast majority of currently deployed business desktop PCs (see above). In addition, Ferris believes that any organizations that are willing to allow Microsoft to host their collaboration data will be able to realize considerable cost savings by switching to Microsoft’s Online offering (see MS Exchange Online Pricing) of which Exchange Online + SharePoint Online + Office Communication Online + Live Meeting can be purchased for $15 per user per month. …

Microsoft is actually expanding the choice for clients. Not only how they procure software or services but also how they deploy the solution. Microsoft Online Services is the better solution, simply because it represents an evolutionary model which over IBM’s revolution …

… We cannot help but feel that IBM is today, as it has been for many years, interested in the idea of reducing Microsoft’s desktop revenue. It has tried with mainframe-based offerings, with Java-based Network Computers, and now with its Linux-based Open Collaboration Client Solution. IBM has not succeeded in the past, nor do we expect it to be any more successful with this offering. In our opinion, the greatest threat to Microsoft’s desktop hegemony comes from the cloud (e.g., Google Apps, etc.). We believe that Microsoft’s rapidly emerging Live and Online offerings mean that Microsoft is already well positioned to benefit from any move to the cloud, just as it did with an earlier move to the browser and Web server.

Nick Shelness

Source: IBM’s Open Collaboration Client Solution Saves Money?

Peter de Haas
Peter de Haas
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