|What were your general impressions of Lotusphere 2009?|
McCabe: I think they [IBM] were more energized than I've seen them in a while; they're starting to bring some new technologies that were under development for the last year or two are really to the forefront. Overall, they're definitely being more aggressive in terms of both the long-term strategy for Lotus and also how they're going to take all of this to market.
Hurwitz: In 2008 IBM stood up and said, "Look at all the applications we have." There was a lot of audience surprise last year. This year, what Lotus has really done a good job of was to continue to evolve their strategies and the offerings so that they spreading out beyond Notes. Available solutions now really incorporate everything from unified communications to work with social networking, creating Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings, etc. IBM's really started to find its direction for the future.
|Were more attendees this year using the technologies that they didn't know existed last year?|
Hurwitz: What was definitely clear to me was that when they talked about the number of new business customers they added this year, the message was resonating. They [IBM] were definitely growing the customer base.
|What were some hot areas or announcements at the show?|
McCabe: I spoke with some attendees and they were really excited about the integration with BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES); it just makes Notes portable now because basically everything will be available on your BlackBerry, including social networking applications.
Lotus Foundations will be great for small businesses and ones that don't have any IT infrastructure. But a lot of the larger companies are thinking about putting it in their branch offices and locations where there are no IT people. That seemed like one of the things people were really interested in learning more about.
LotusLive was another big announcement. LotusLive is SaaS -- collaborative software that lives in the clouds. With Lotus Live, you go onto the Internet and sign up for it. It's still in active beta right now, though IBM hasn't released it. It has collaboration, file sharing, document management, Web conferencing with Unyte, Sametime. IBM pulled all of the offerings that they have into the cloud. LotusLive is the way to get the people you work with that aren't in your company linked to you. In fact, IBM also announced a LotusLive partnership with LinkedIn at the show.
Hurwitz: Quite a few partners said that the idea of being able to use an appliance that's pre-configured that they can plug their application into and go to market was very exciting.
|Any announcements that didn't quite hit the mark?|
McCabe: I think the idea that there was so much and some of it isn't fully developed in terms of how IBM's positioning it stood out. They have all these appliances now, such as the SmartCube and a Linux software appliance, in addition to Lotus Foundations. There's definitely still confusion as to what all these things are.
Also, people are intrigued about the LotusLive online services, but are still kind of confused about it because there's LotusLive as an umbrella, and LotusLive Engage and, evidently, there will be other Lotus Live offerings. I think they're going to have to crisp it all up a bit. It will take a bit of work for IBM to really make sure people understand how they can use each of these applications where they make the most sense.
|Do Notes/Domino administrators seem concerned with all this talk about moving to the cloud?|
Hurwitz: I think there's a huge interest in the SaaS model because of the economic situation; and I think there is an issue of companies preferring to spend precious resources somewhere else and use SaaS, which will be a tenth of the cost. It's not only salaries, but it's also benefits and the other things that go along with an employee package that companies have to consider. I think a lot of people are deciding to go in the SaaS direction. Mid-market businesses will retain the two or three IT people they have, for example, they're just not bringing on new employees.
McCabe: What SaaS does for a lot of companies is satisfy the needs of the business. IT people may wonder if it will hurt their job security, but it's more of a recognition that this is how most companies are going to have to supplement internal IT. In the SaaS model, you also have a lower upfront financial risk because you don't have to buy and install these systems, buy software and middleware, hire people that know how to manage it, etc. You're basically taking advantage of someone else's data center and their expertise.
|What do you predict for 2009 in the Lotus Notes/Domino space?|
McCabe: I think Lotus Foundations is going to be a big hit because they're doing a good job of building a small to medium business channel for it. They're getting partners to provide other turnkey solutions that become part of this appliance and make them idiot-proof to turn on. There is going to be a big attraction in the installed base to use Foundations in branches where they have no IT support. That should be a big winner.
Hurwitz: I also think that Foundations is one of those things that is going to sneak up on the market and take off really fast. It's just the type of thing that people need for remote offices that must be self-contained. That type of platform --appliance-based -- is going to be huge.
Judith Hurwitz is the president and CEO of Hurwitz & Associates, a research and consulting firm. Judith has more than 20 years experience in technology research and strategy consulting. She is also the co-author of SOA for Dummies, published by Wiley.
Laurie McCabe, partner at Hurwitz & Associates has more than 20 years of experience in the IT industry, specifically in market, channel and competitive analysis. Laurie is recognized for her insight on the SMB market in the SaaS, collaboration, business solutions, social networking and managed services markets.
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This was first published in January 2009