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The Domino Effect

Apr 07, 2004, 16:45 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

IBM's Lotus division has been slowly and quietly building the install base of its Domino messaging and collaboration server and one of the big reasons cited for its success is IBM's support of the Linux platform.

Over the last two years, Lotus has been working with channel partners and its direct sales force on its Move to Lotus program. The success is definitely showing: according to IBM, 1,500 unique customers have migrated to Domino over the last 24 months. IBM Lotus is touting these figures now, as it is seeing a large surge of customers coming to Domino in just this past quarter.

While the reasons for moving to Domino vary from client to client, IBM Lotus' Director of Competitive Sales Dean Marsh cites Domino's support on Linux as one of the big reasons people are making the migration. Actually, it's Domino's support on a number of operating system platforms that makes it so appealing, since this is in direct contrast to Domino's biggest competitor, Microsoft Exchange 5.5, which is supported on only one platform.

Marsh explained that in the past quarter, nearly 80 percent of their new customers were migrating specifically from Exchange. Marsh explained that Exchange is built on technology that is five to seven years old and many clients are looking for tools and technology that are more cutting edge.

Since Domino is supported on Linux and a variety of platforms, businesses with multiple data centers and server types can start to consolidate their servers. Linux's ability to run on a variety of architectures is also a significant part of this advantage.

"You can have someone running Domino on Linux, and have it on a zSeries mainframe if you want," Marsh said.

Other features that are attracting customers are Linux's native anti-virus capabilities and its clustering capabilities.

"We have heard that some organizations are spending up to seven figures dealing with viruses," Marsh stated. "They're looking for alternatives."

Domino seems to be a favored alternative, not just because of its multi-platform support. March cited Domino's integrated collaborative tools, instant messaging, and e-mail calendaring features as additional reasons for Domino's growing success. He also emphasized the product's administration tools and access control as attractors.

Are people coming to Domino because of Linux or moving to Linux because of Domino? "A little of both," Marsh replied.

"Customers like the fact that when they are using Lotus Domino, they have choice," he added.

OS choice will be a big part of Domino's Notes client as well. Already Domino has browser-based webmail functionality that completely supports Mozilla. Currently IBM Lotus is developing an Eclipse-based client that will run natively on several platforms, including Linux. This client will have much of Note's collaborative technology and will be of interest to businesses looking to migrate to the Linux desktop.

This client, which was previewed at last January's LinuxWorld Expo, is due out "later this year," Marsh said, but he declined to elaborate beyond that. Some industry analysts have speculated a release to coincide with the August LWE in San Francisco, but this is not confirmed.

Marsh was more forthcoming about the future of Domino, which is currently at version 6.5. IBM Lotus' development cycle tends to alternate the focus between Domino and Notes, with the .0 releases emphasizing new server features and the .5 releases new Notes enhancements. Thus, the upcoming Domino 7.0 will contain the bulk of the new feature set.

Among the new features will be the capability to use a relational database, dB2, alongside Domino's NSF file storage system. By combining relational storage and search capabilities with Lotus' document-centric filesystem, Marsh explained, users will be able to track and index messaging data in very powerful ways.

For now, Domino is still quietly growing its install base. But it does not sound like it will be quiet for much longer.

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