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11:54:59 AM
Written By : Richard SchwartzCategory : IBM Lotus Notes And Domino
Location : Nashua, NH

I wasn't planning on commenting about IBM's decision to exclude Microsoft from the Lotusphere product showcase. Why? Two reasons.

  • My initial impression was that although it's a legitimate business decision, it has a "bush league" feel to it.

  • The more attention is paid to this in blogs, the greater the likelihood that the trade press picks up on it and makes it a story, the way they did with the non-story of some IBM developers joining Microsoft. (You're nice guys, and I respect you a great deal, and wish you the best, but let's be real. Not exactly a "film at 11" situation ).

What changed my mind? This article on a web site that was previously not on my radar screen. The site is formatted to look very much like it's a trade publication, but a close look shows that it has ties to a firm that sells email security appliances and various other things. In the article, it says "Friends of Lotus are scratching their heads, wondering why the big pockets at IBM aren't doing anything to stop the bleeding." and in the comment thread the site's editor adds "Most of the industry is waiting to see whether IBM will fight for its turf, or do the OS/2 flop and retreat from the field.".

I think that from now on, whenever someone raises the OS/2 canard in order to imply that IBM will walk away from Notes and Domino, I'm going to counter with VB6 as evidence that Microsoft will walk away from Exchange. There are actually analogies that one could make that are more on point, but that would actually have the opposite of the effect that I want, which is to show that there's no valid analogy between OS/2 and Domino. (See my comments on the above-linked post for more on that.) But, I digress.

These comments made me realize that IBM doesn't just have to fight the fight. They have to visilbly fight the fight. If anyone wants to make a story out of IBM excluding Microsoft, I say let them make it a story! Let the story be that IBM is fighting Microsoft.

That being said, I look forward to seeing my friends from Microsoft at Lotusphere. As attendees.

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Comments :v

1. Curt Stone12/21/2005 01:03:30 PM

Hi Richard,
You quote this paragraph from the article and address the Lotus part. What do you think they mean by saying Microsoft is abandoning the Exchange 5.5 base?
"Friends of Lotus are scratching their heads, wondering why the big pockets at IBM aren't doing anything to stop the bleeding. Meanwhile, Friends of Microsoft have their own concerns, wondering why on earth Redmond would abandon its largest customer base, Exchange 5.5 users."

2. Danny Lawrence12/21/2005 03:44:34 PM

The irony is that MSFT does this sort of thing all the time and it gets nary a peep in the press, but that is because MSFT is percieved as a "ruthless competitor who will use any means fair or foul to hurt its competition". Since IBM is percieved as the "nice folks who want to work with others" their exclusion of MSFT gets some press.

3. Richard Schwartz12/21/2005 04:14:41 PM

@1: Well, I don't think they're being entirely fair to Microsoft there. First of all, Exchange 5.5 is not their largest customer base. Windows is. But they probably really mean to say that Microsoft is abandoing the largest share of their Exchange customer base, but I still don't think that's fair easy. That is, they're picking on Microsoft for the wrong thing. Microsoft is not "abandoning" the Exchange 5.5 base. They have provided those customers with a clear upgrade path. In fact, they have been for years. It's just that Microsoft hasn't given their Exchange 5.5 customers a compelling enough reason to follow that path.

4. Trey Smith12/21/2005 10:16:40 PM

Doesn't look to me like trimMail's Email Battles takes any pains to hide who they are or what they sell. The "Brought to you by trimMail Inbox. Securing networks from spam, spyware, DoS attacks, phishers, and viruses worldwide" blurb at the top of every page is a kinda dead giveaway, at least for me.

5. Richard Schwartz12/21/2005 11:10:44 PM

@4: Thanks for the input, Trey. I'm not saying there's anything improper about the eMail Battles site. I think that vendors and consultants -- myself included -- can be very objective observers of our industry. eMail Battles is a news site, with articles of interest, and I see no sign of overt bias. It looks like someone puts a lot of work into maintaining it putting up content of interest to the messaging and collaboration community. I'm just observing, for the sake of my readers, that although the site bears some superficial resemblance to some trade mag sites, it is not a trade mag site. It may be obvious to you. It wasn't immediately obvious to me on first look. People can take that for whatever it's worth.

On a possibly related subject, I note that you're connecting from an IP address located in Davenport, Iowa, and trimMail is exclusively distributed by Comco of Bettendorf, Iowa. You're neighbors! It's just 3.85 miles away, according to MapQuest. You wrote of trimMail as "they", so you're not associated with them in any way, right? This is just a coincidence? People can take this information for what it's worth, too.

6. Bob12/29/2005 01:52:32 PM

I wasn't going to comment on this story either but since you mentioned me indirectly, I thought I'd add my two cents:

IBM let Gary have a booth at Lotusphere last year. They denied his request this year. Fine. He's going to Lotusphere anyway. The idea for the booth was Gary's. If someone wants to turn this into a Microsoft vs. IBM thing that's their choice but it's really small stuff.

If IBM hadn't laid him off, Gary would still be working there as a Notes/Domino evangelist. And despite the layoff, Gary is still a huge fan of Notes/Domino. At Microsoft his job is to help customers integrate .NET with Notes/Domino. Certainly there are Notes/Domino customers and business partners who are interested in this topic. If IBM doesn't want Gary (or anyone from Microsoft) to have an exhibitor booth to show this off, fine. It's their conference, they make the rules.

Microsoft and IBM have a complicated relationship. Obviously Domino bloggers will focus on Domino vs. Exchange but there's a lot more going on where the two companies clearly cooperate. The Notes client runs primarily on Windows. A huge share of Domino installations run on Windows. The XBox 360 uses PowerPC chips. IBM Consulting will deploy and service customers who use Microsoft technology including (gasp!) Exchange servers.

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