What is Your Messaging Strategy?
For enterprises around the world, Lotus Notes is a part of the corporate IT strategy. It is a messaging and collaboration platform, an application development platform and a web platform. It does its job and it does it well, just as it has for the past two decades.
Today's technological landscape is rich with new and exciting options and companies are evaluating which options are available to them and whether these options are a viable alternative to Lotus Notes. As a company running Lotus Notes, what is your strategy around Lotus Notes?
WHAT’S YOUR MESSAGING STRATEGY?
To keep the Lotus Notes platform is often the least disruptive option. If your software maintenance is current, this could be your lowest cost alternative. To make the most out of your investment in Lotus Notes, upgrade to the latest version, modernize your applications and deploy the additional features – Same-Time, Traveler, Symphony – available to you at no additional cost.
To migrate to a different platform involves moving both the email and the applications. Migrating email is a relatively straightforward process with many migration and co-existence tools available from 3rd party vendors. There are many consulting companies that specialize in email migrations and can assist you with the project.
Migrating the applications requires a custom approach that is unique in every case. The effort and the method to migrate is based on the nature of the applications. The more complex, the more mission critical an application is, the more effort is needed to move it to a different technology platform. In some cases, the applications are so complex that moving them is nearly impossible or is very costly. In those cases, companies choose to migrate the email but keep and modernize the applications, keeping the Lotus Domino infrastructure.
KEEP THE PLATFORM
Keeping Lotus Notes and maintaining the status quo is, of course, is the easiest option. If the platform works for you, if there’s nothing wrong with it, why not just stay with it? If you are staying with Lotus Notes, you should be looking at upgrading to the current version of the platform.
Many organizations are still running older versions of the software, versions that are 5 or more years old and are out of support. When comparing the feature set of older software with the modern packages, older versions of Lotus Notes pale in comparison, often driving discontent in the user community and the desire to move to a different platform. If Lotus Notes is a strategic platform for you and you want your users and your IT staff to be happy, upgrade to the latest version.
Whether you’re upgrading from a release 3 versions ago or just executing a point release update, even if you’re doing the upgrade using your own internal resources, it is a good idea to get an independent review of your infrastructure.
Outside vendors, specializing in IBM and Lotus technologies, can help you ensure that you are taking advantage of all the latest and greatest feature available in the new release and that your environment is optimized and configured in the best possible way giving you the most value from your investment in IBM and Lotus.
Upgrading is a cost-efficient approach to getting the most value out of your investment in Lotus Notes. One of IBM's technological advantages over its competition has always been the ease of an in place upgrade. The email infrastructure components and the existing applications are backward compatible, the existing hardware can run new versions of servers and the upgrade is relatively straightforward.
The latest version of Lotus Domino offers definite advantages to upgrading. Your users will benefit from the rich features of the latest Lotus Notes client:
- Microsoft Outlook-like interface and even color scheme
The user interface that follows the guidelines of Windows and Mac operating systems
Improvements to Calendar views and better integration of calendars with 3rd party applications
- Improvements to the Address book/Contacts interface
- Better organization of email
- The new open foundation of the client allowing development of plug-ins.
Your IT team will benefit from the advancements in the Lotus Domino server technology:
- Improved server performance and the ability to support more users on existing hardware, opening up room for server consolidation and cost savings through reduction of hardware resources needed to run your environment
- Improved handling of large database allowing for better application performance
- Improved ID management and security, including features for automatic password recovery by users
- Improved attachment handling through single-object store, resulting in reduction of database on-disk footprint and nightly backup windows
MODERNIZE YOUR APPLICATIONS
If you have mission critical applications built on the Notes platform, these applications were likely built over the course of several years and contain vast amounts of business logic. While these applications serve their purpose, their user interface is dated: developed using old technology and old user interface standards. There is nothing wrong with your applications. They just don’t look pretty. Your employees are probably using these applications to death but they are also wistfully looking at more recent applications built on newer platforms and featuring a modern, eye-pleasing, feature-rich user interface. Lotus Domino 8.5 introduced a rich application development environment built on top of the Eclipse platform. It allows developers to use the latest Web 2.0 technologies to build captivating user front-end experience.
In addition, XPages, a recent addition to the IBM Lotus Domino Web development technology toolkit, is probably the most cutting edge and powerful of the set. Xpages provides for capabilities that were previously not thought possible to have in the Domino Web application development environment.
XPages gives you the capability to easily develop Web 2.0 type user experiences for your existing web applications. And the 8.5.1 release added the ability to run the same XPages application in the Notes client, as well as the browser, without any modifications. As you’re upgrading your Lotus/Domino infrastructure to the latest release and making a prolonged commitment to the platform, you owe it your user community to modernize your existing applications.
Take advantage of the years of business logic and knowledge embedded into your applications and give your users the modern interface they are looking for.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ADD-ON OFFERINGS
In Lotus/Domino 8.5.1 IBM added some new features into the user license. This means that you can get these features for free, at no additional cost to you, all as a part of your maintenance renewal. The three offerings you particularly should look at are: SameTime, Symphony and Traveler.
SameTime is an enterprise web conferencing and instant messaging platform, which also includes telephony integration. There are several versions of SameTime, each including more advanced features and carrying a correspondingly higher price. At the basis level, there’s SameTime Entry, which is included in your Lotus Notes user license and offers instant messaging capabilities via a client embedded right into the Lotus Notes client.
Symphony is an office productivity suite of applications from Lotus. It includes a Word Processor, a Spreadsheet application and a Presentation application. Symphony is built on top of the OpenOffice platform and is now in beta in its 3rd release. Symphony represents a solid competitor to Microsoft Office, following the 80-20 rule: 80 percent of your users use only 20 percent of the features available in Microsoft Office. Symphony is not going to replace Microsoft Excel with your finance and accounting departments. But it can easily replace the costly Office for the other 80 percent of your employees. A Symphony license is free, it is available for download as a stand- alone application and it is also included in your Lotus Notes 8.5 client. And unlike OpenOffice, Symphony is backed by IBM’s Enterprise support. If you’re paying hundreds of dollars for Office licenses for the occasional Word user, you should explore whether Lotus Symphony is an option for you.
Traveler is a separate server application that provides email, calendar and contact syncing for iPhone and Android users. Traveler allows the owners of those devices to enjoy the same enterprise connectivity that BlackBerry users have been taking for granted for all these years. A Traveler license is also included in your Lotus Notes license.
MIGRATE TO A DIFFERENT PLATFORM
For years, Lotus has been the market leader and often the only option when it came to collaboration. Today, there are several different alternatives: starting with the Lotus’ archrival Microsoft and going all the way to a number of cloud offerings, with Google being the leader in the cloud space. With so many options available on the market, organizations are switching to other platforms. Some of the migrations are driven by strategic vendor alliances; others are motivated by in-depth business motivators.
A migration project has two aspects: migrating email and migrating applications. Migrating the email is the relatively straightforward piece of the migration project: you select the new email platform, decide on what to migrate, select the migration tool vendor and start executing the migration plan.
Migrating the applications is a much more complicated process. It involves selecting your new collaboration platform, deciding which applications to migrate and which to let die on the vine. Your new application development platform will dictate the specifics of the application migration process. There are 3rd party vendors that promise easy application migration from Lotus to the popular Share- Point. If your applications are anything more complicated than your typical out-of-the-box Document Library or a Discussion template, expect to do a great deal of custom development work.
There are several main drivers behind organizations migrating to a different email and/or collaboration platform:
- Vendor preference
- Cost reduction
- 3rd party integration
- Poor experience with the current platform
Every migration project requires a significant effort. It can be a lengthy and a costly undertaking. To get a realistic estimate of what will be involved, before you begin the migration, get a 3rd party vendor to help you with estimating the costs of the project and with planning the project execution.
If you are moving your applications to a new collaboration platform, you may not have the expertise necessary to architect and build applications to replace your Lotus Notes applications.
If that is the case, seek outside help. There are vendors and consulting companies that specialize in migrating applications. They can help you configure, architect and design your new collaboration platform and your applications to ensure that your migration project is a success.
Platform migrations can be driven by decision makers aligning the organization with a subset of strategic vendors, narrowing down the list of infrastructure, hardware and telephony vendors that the company uses.
If IBM or Lotus does not make the list, the company migrates to a different vendor. If you have decided that your organization is going to be a .NET shop going forward, then moving to a Microsoft email and collaboration platform makes sense.
If all you use Lotus Notes for is its email capabilities, it could be an expensive platform. Today, email has become a commodity. The race for features and capabilities of an email platform has reached its final destination. Most of email vendors offer comparable feature sets with some distinctions.
However, the features of an email client are not enough to make organizations pay a premium price for delivering a piece of email from person A to person B.
Some vendors, like Microsoft, offer license bundles, where, by licensing several of their products together, you can significantly reduce the cost of your email license. If you’re not already taking advantage of Microsoft’s Enterprise License Agreements, you should.
The lowest going rate for email is $3 per user per month. Cloud based solutions from IBM, Microsoft, Google and others are all within that price range. In addition to reducing per user cost of email, a cloud solution helps you eliminate the cost associated with maintaining and supporting email servers (hardware and administration) and the cost of supporting an additional piece of software on employees’ desktops. So if you’re looking for significant cost reductions around your email platform, look to the cloud. And while a migration project can be expensive, the cost savings achieved through going to a cloud-based solution will, in the long run, offset the cost of the migration project.
3RD PARTY INTEGRATION
One of the reasons given in support of migrating from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange is the lack of 3rd party support for Lotus Notes. Many 3rd party vendors, when building email integration, expect Exchange or Outlook to be present in the environment. And even if they do support Lotus Notes, the integration is not always as good or as easy as with Exchange. This is true of telephony vendors building unified communication integration, desktop application vendors and vendors of industry-specific software targeting a dedicated vertical. With the release of Lotus Notes 8.5, which is built on an open Eclipse platform allowing easier integration from 3rd party applications, this trend is reversing. Vendors are realizing that.