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Reporter's Notebook: Groove, Ozzie go to Microsoft

The big news in Notes-Domino was not literally in the Lotus space: Ray Ozzie went to Microsoft to act as CTO.

The big news in Notes-Domino last week was not literally in the Lotus space. Word was that Notes progenitor Ray Ozzie, who left IBM Lotus in the late '90s to form P2P collaborative software provider Groove Networks, had taken up an offer to become part of Microsoft.

Microsoft bought Groove, for an as-of-yet undisclosed amount, and immediately promoted Ozzie to the position of CTO. Tech Target Senior News Editor Margie Semiloff reported that story in "Microsoft buys Groove, gains Notes inventor Ozzie"

This was not wholly unexpected. Microsoft had been a heavy investor in Groove, and the Groove software was pretty much focused on the Microsoft platform. Ozzie's view of software has changed over the years, and, clearly, with Groove, he was doing a lot more than just trying and recreate Notes. Ozzie had made a keynote appearance at Lotusphere just a few weeks ago, and more than a few wags wondered if Ozzie might somehow be headed back to the Lotus camp. It was not to be. As part of our Lotusphere coverage, writers had a chance to listen to Ozzie and outline his vision of "Computing on the edge."

The move to Microsoft is interesting. Many of us feel Lotus Notes Domino is one of the strongest parts of the IBM portfolio. IBM is edging deeper into integrated collaborative system development all the time, and it can best do so on the shoulders of Notes, and, in effect, Ozzie. Microsoft continues to sing the song of 'collaborative applications' too. And having Groove and Ozzie on hand can only help.

It does make the life of the Notes-Domino champion a bit more complicated. Do not doubt that Microsoft's competitive offerings will get a full hearing in any sales encounter where people respect the work of Ozzie. But the larger story may be that competition is good, and this amorphous thing called "collaboration" may gain better definition as IBM and Microsoft promote the heck out of it.

"Now, both Microsoft and IBM are bringing very competitive collaborative portfolios to market," Peter O'Kelly, Burton Group analyst, told us in a conversation after the Microsoft-Groove announcement.

"It is a good time to be a customer," he said. "You can watch as the companies fill out the grid of different types of collaborative [software]." As well, O'Kelly says he sees a simpler model for collaborative development eventually coming out of this.

There is a sideshow here, and sideshows can often influence what goes on in the big tent. Inside observers impressed by IBM's increasingly deft mixes of standard software components often credit software group CTO Danny Sabbah, vice president of Software Group strategy and technology, for combining technical expertise, understanding and experience to fashion software stacks that play well together. Who has had that role at Microsoft, where divisions are far more like silos than they were before a series of antitrust trials? The answer is none other than Chief Software Architect and Chairman Bill Gates.

The richest man in America can sometimes be stretched a bit thin. Architecture decisions have to be made. Having a maven of platforms and apps like Ozzie could greatly help in the battle with IBM. What do you think about Ozzie's move to Redmond?

Dig Deeper on Domino Resources - Part 5

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