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
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
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
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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