So the dreaded moment has come when your boss, or your boss's boss, decides that your company is moving to Microsoft Exchange. No one is exactly sure why, but it's up to you to persuade the powers that be to stick with Domino and Notes. Sound familiar?
For many executives, Microsoft Exchange is the easy choice when it comes to messaging because of the pervasiveness of Microsoft's products. However, Domino has advantages as well, and it shouldn't be discounted during the selection process.
When choosing an e-mail platform, it's easy to get hung up between the ubiquity of Microsoft's Exchange Server and the functionality of IBM's Lotus Domino.
"It's areas like downtime, availability, cost of help desk support, cost of servers and the number of servers [that] end up being the differentiator in the cost of ownership equation," said Brill.
Brill said that overall technical support costs are about equal because Domino shops tend to use more complicated features.
"Domino customers are doing more than just e-mail and calendaring on that server; they're using the collaborative applications. So if you are just looking at mail versus mail, the overall cost of Domino is lower," Brill said.
Brill added that the cost margin should improve compared with previous versions, with Domino 6 saving customers about $10 to $15 a month per user.
Aside from cost, it's the technical aspects of Domino that make it so attractive to current users. For instance, Domino's ability to run in a heterogeneous environment make it appealing to companies that require a platform that will work with various operating systems.
Mike Blake, a Domino administrator with the Ohio Department of Transportation, said that's one reason his organization chose Domino over Exchange.
"Our shop manages several different operating systems -- OS/390, AIX, Linux, Solaris and Windows -- and we wanted the flexibility to choose," Blake said.
Some companies use Domino rather than Exchange because of Domino's traditionally strong collaboration capabilities. Brill said that Lotus' studies show that about two-thirds of Domino users are interested in features above and beyond run-of-the-mill e-mail.
According to Brill, many users put Domino to work in sales tracking and help desk applications, as well as integrate it with databases and enterprise resource planning systems, like SAP's.
"We employed Tivoli Data Protection for Lotus Domino with our existing Tivoli Storage Manager and Domino's transaction logging. It's made backups and restores a piece of cake," Blake said. "We're able to restore an individual mailbox and can restore to an exact point in time."
Despite all its capabilities, Domino is up against Exchange's perceived ease of use. Brill says that changing this perception is a challenging task.
"It's definitely a challenge because there are people who don't have an understanding of what the competitive products offer. We try to [present customers with] examples of administrators who
say they have gotten their weekends back because they don't have any more virus attacks," Brill said.
Blake agrees, saying the common perception among his users about the Notes/Domino package is that Microsoft's offering is easier to use.
"The main problem has been the Notes client's variance from the 'Windows paradigm,'" Blake said. "A lot of our users are familiar with Outlook from home use and would like Notes to have similar user interface functionality. It appears that R6 has addressed this, but we'll see; I haven't tested it yet."