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Domino downsized: Express edition courts SMBs

The new Domino Messaging Express is intended for SMBs and comes with a discount for those dumping Exchange. An expert says it's more proof that Domino and the messaging market have a long life ahead.

As part of a continued push into the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market that one industry analyst called "relentless," IBM Lotus has brought forth an IBM Express Portfolio version of its Lotus Domino Messaging software, providing more proof that messaging is by no means a dead market.

IBM Lotus Domino Messaging Express will join IBM's 60 existing Express Portfolio products, and will cater to the midsized market, which typically has smaller IT staffs and more limited budgets than their enterprise-level counterparts.

According to IBM Lotus, Messaging Express will protect a customer's existing IT investments, supporting everything from Web browsers and standards-based POP3/IMAP e-mail to IBM Lotus Notes and Microsoft Outlook. The software is also available for server operating systems, including Linux, Windows and OS/400.

As the third Domino-based offering to join the IBM Express portfolio, IBM Lotus Domino Messaging Express builds on IBM Lotus Domino Collaboration Express and IBM Lotus Domino Utility Server Express, which were introduced in 2003 to deliver e-mail and calendar functions, workflow and document applications, and automated internal business processes.

Even as IBM Lotus builds upon its Express offerings, existing customers running Notes/Domino need not worry about any significant impact, said to Arthur Fontaine, senior market manager for IBM Lotus.

"There are SMB customers who would certainly qualify for Express and certainly have a right to it, but for these customers it is business as usual because the renewal price [for Domino] would be less [than buying Express]," Fontaine said.

Peter O'Kelly, a senior analyst with Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group, said the release of another messaging product is noteworthy because it shows that vendors are rekindling the market.

"Conventional wisdom says that messaging is a dead market," O'Kelly said. "I think this is a good example of the energy in the market."

O'Kelly also described how serious IBM has become in making a significant investment in the SMB segment, especially with special offers for customers who currently employ a competitor's messaging software.

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Currently, IBM Lotus is offering up to 1,000 licenses of Messaging Express for $48 per user when they trade up from their current messaging product. The software is also available for $96 as a new purchase.

That 50% discount for competitive upgrades, O'Kelly said, is an example of just how aggressive IBM Lotus is willing to be in order to increase its market share, as well as an example of how healthy the market is becoming.

"[IBM Lotus is] relentless in the SMB market … these are Fortune 1000 companies dealing with an overload of software … underserved by traditional enterprise players -- this creates an opportunity for some new business," O'Kelly said.

O'Kelly quelled concern that Messaging Express was something wildly different from Lotus Domino as it exists today.

"This is Domino," he said.

Fontaine echoed that this offering was based on Domino, and is designed for mid-sized businesses that may have the same e-mail and scheduling requirements as the enterprise – uptime, innovative features and affordable total cost of ownership (TCO) – but do not have the IT staff or resources necessary to deploy them.

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