Mary Jo Foley covers a new Yankee Group report ...

"In an ominous portent for Microsoft, 23% of the survey respondents indicated they intend to migrate away from Exchange Server and switch to an alternative Linux or open source Email and messaging distribution platform over the next 12 to 18 months. The users attributed their decision to their belief that Linux Email and messaging packages are cheaper and easier to manage than Exchange," according to study author and Yankee analyst Laura DiDio.  ...

"Rival Linux Email and messaging packages still have a long way to go to catch up to all of the embedded functionality of Exchange but that is proving to be neither an impediment nor a deterrents to the nearly one-quarter of the corporate businesses that claim they are committed to swapping out Exchange for Linux and open source alternatives," Yankee's report said.

What's behind the switch?

Cost, complexity and "difficulty in maintaining and managing Exchange," according to the study.
It will be interesting to take a look at how this survey -- which covers hardware and software -- was conducted.  There are implications for IBM as well as for Microsoft.  The difference is, though, that Exchange is now feeling pressure from both sides.  On the high end, customers looking for innovation and value have evolved their messaging investments into collaborative platforms, and are now looking for further value to evolve to dynamic workplaces.  On the low end, e-mail and calendar services are fully commoditized, viewed by an increasing number of organizations as a utility and part of overhead, rather than a source of value.  This is, in many ways, why the Notes/Domino 8 effort isn't just about the new UI, it's about using the Eclipse-based environment to evolve to composite applications and SOA, with even more value for all those Notes applications that have been built in the first 17 years of the product's market presence.

Microsoft has no such differentiators, even in Exchange 2007.  Exchange is, by MS's own redefinition, just a platform for messaging.  It does the same things as Zimbra, Scalix, Gordano, Kerio, and 27 other e-mail systems.  Yet the pricing structure for Exchange 2007, with two CALs and a third required for the underlying operating system, is substantially higher than those other choices.  

It will be incredibly interesting to watch how the market adjusts, and whether indeed 23% of Microsoft customers move elsewhere.  The reasons given are mostly about cost.  My view is that we'll be successful with Notes/Domino 8 if we can remind IT organizations that there's a broader category of capability, one that has the capability to deliver value and innovation, not just a utility service.

Link: All about Microsoft: Report: Open-source e-mail systems biggest threat to Microsoft Exchange >

There are also some thoughts about this article at Microsoft Exchange Server - downfall begins? by Ravi Agarwal, who works at an Exchange hosting provider.

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