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IBM will cease support for IBM Lotus Notes, Domino and Lotus Enterprise Integrator (LEI) 7.x products at the end of April 2011, the company said this month.
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Although this news may push some Notes/Domino 7.x customers to move to 8.x faster, the reason behind the support termination is likely more practical for IBM than its customers. Ending support for Notes, Domino and LEI 7.x will free support personnel, developers, quality assurance testers and version managers to focus on Notes/Domino 8.x.
Reducing version maintenance overhead is a reasonable goal, considering the number of diverse products for which the IBM Lotus brand is responsible. Burton Group Analyst Bill Pray notes, "IBM now has five email offerings on the market -- on-premise Notes, hosted Notes, hosted iNotes, Foundations/Branch Office and Outblaze."
"End-of-lifing seven [offerings] may be helpful to free up a few resources to keep up with what they have in market," Pray added. Given the situation, Pray expects to see more "sun setting and consolidation of IBM Lotus products" in the future.
Although the end-of-life deadline is still 18 months away, customers on Notes/Domino 7.x will need to decide soon whether to upgrade or go off maintenance.
According to IBM, market activity for Notes/Domino 8.x is most prevalent, followed by 6.5 and 7.x, respectively. This trend denotes that many customers have already made their decision.
Market activity trends indicate that a significant number of customers -- more than currently active Notes/Domino 7.x customers -- have already decided to go off maintenance.
It's likely that Notes/Domino 7.x customers have already adopted Notes/Domino 8.x by now, so only stragglers will need to make the move. While some of the installed base may still be planning upgrades, it's more likely that they're staying with a stable Notes/Domino system for application support. Some may have been lured away from Notes mail by other email platforms.
"Most enterprises don't go off email maintenance," noted Pray, as it is mission critical. But if this is the case, the decision to go off maintenance likely means that Notes is being used as an application platform by version stragglers.
Setting the end-of-life for Notes/Domino 7.x will either light a fire under the tails of customers who are slow to upgrade or won't make a difference to customers who don't plan to upgrade at all. In the meantime, the move releases IBM Lotus resources to focus on the latest products and support for new customers.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Karen Hobert is an IT industry research analyst focused on communication, collaboration, content management and social software technologies. She offers over 20 years of hands-on and market expertise to enterprises planning, designing, and deploying shared information systems. You can see more of her thoughts at Karen Hobert's Connecting Dots blog.