Are you ready for LotusLive hosted email services?

Now that LotusLive is publically available, Notes/Domino customers are trying to decide if they should make the move to hosted email services. See what the benefits are and what you need to know before moving to hosted email services in this article from industry analyst Karen Hobert.

LotusLive became publically available on April 7, 2009 and the first service bundle, LotusLive Engage, includes two hosted email choices:

  • LotusLive Notes, which is based on the existing IBM Lotus Notes Hosted Messaging offering for companies with 1,000 or more users.
  • LotusLive iNotes, which stems from the web-based messaging tools of the Outblaze, Ltd. acquisition.

Now that LotusLive is out there, the next question is whether or not Notes/Domino customers are ready to move to hosted messaging services.

Right now, email is likely the most unpopular, yet necessary service that enterprises deploy. Years of building, patching and upgrading have led many enterprises to bloated messaging systems that are ripe for improvements. Hosted messaging services offer some Notes/Domino organizations the chance to push the email restart button and eliminate much of the overhead of system management.

Savings is the leading benefit of moving to hosted email services. Hosted email consolidates costs into standardized bundles at fixed prices based on usage -- making email costs more predictable. Hosted systems provide reduced support overhead and improved system management, eliminating the worry of maintaining data centers and servers. Additionally, most hosted messaging providers offer online tools for administering accounts and services, making it easier for Notes/Domino customers to self-manage their systems.

Since hosted services tend to be packaged into standardized bundles, any deviation from the bundle in usage and services (archiving, mobile messaging and security, for example) typically incur additional fees. Of course, there are tradeoffs ranging from:

  • Performance and SLAs -- Most hosted messaging providers only offer 99.9% uptime in contrast to typical enterprise 99.999% SLAs.
  • Security and risk -- It's harder to customize policies on hosted services, especially multi-tenant services. Some examples include enforcing encryption on messages or setting up policies to scan messages for sensitive content.
  • Migration costs -- Moving existing mailboxes to another platform (cloud or not) requires a one-time migration, which can be costly.

Many of these tradeoffs depend on how much the customer is willing to spend. The more dedicated and specialized the service, the more costly hosted messaging becomes.

Hosting is not an either/or scenario and comes with many gray areas that aren't sufficiently addressed through media and marketing tools. Comparing hosted offerings -- whether it's other hosted offerings or on-premise solutions -- is difficult and depends on the individual needs of your Notes/Domino enterprise. Most hosted email providers only quote prices for mailbox services and charge extra for more enterprise-ready services such as archiving, messaging filtering and mobile messaging.

Customers that have examined existing messaging environments and business needs are better equipped to address hosting providers and select the best solutions to meet their needs. Customers should know as much as about the current Notes/Domino email ecosystem as possible, including:

  • Email system -- Supporting services, staffing, networking, storage, security and servers
  • Business processes -- Mobile messaging, archiving, add-ons (fax and voicemail), integrated business processes and group mailboxes
  • User segmentation -- A segment of user types and the messaging services they need
  • Usage and volume -- Knowing about usage and volume metrics on the current system for service levels

The benefits of hosted services can be great as long as Notes/Domino customers enter into the deal with a clear understanding of their unique messaging needs.

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Karen Hobert
Karen 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.

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