Gartner's Matt Cain examines new cost-saving features of Domino (mainly 8.5) and how they stack up.  Some really strong recommendations around taking advantage of Domino features to drive down costs, including DAOS, Domino Configuration Tuner, etc.  Gartner also suggests that companies look at their Notes/Domino topology and whether there are opportunities to cut operational cost through redesign.  We do this exercise regularly with customers and find that there are usually opportunities around consolidation of servers, bandwidth reduction, backup management, and other factors.

Cain uses this some other recently-published reports to look at the cost of premises-based mail vs. SaaS/cloud-based approaches.  I don't think the comparison is always apples to oranges (or even apples to carrots), since Domino is usually part of a larger collaboration implementation and not just a commodity mail server.  In these reports, Gartner recognizes that today, larger organizations continue to operate e-mail (only) more efficiently on-premise than as SaaS, and that there are many factors.  Gartner go one important step further, though (emphasis mine):

We don't think premises-based Domino -- or, for that matter, premises-based Exchange -- can be driven down to (and under) $5 per seat per month where, eventually, Microsoft, Google and Cisco (and IBM with LotusLive) will price their SaaS offerings. These prices are for more generic services. More complex needs for services such as encryption, compliance, aggressive recovery time objectives and content control will push prices up. Ownership cost calculations need to include all duties related to e-mail, including user management, training, help desk, bandwidth, security and compliance.
Too often, I am hearing about competitive situations where the siren song of a fixed per-user per-month cost for cloud-based e-mail and calendar is luring IT management.  Amazingly, in some cases the view is that a cloud-based service will completely off-load the IT organization's costs and burdens associated with running e-mail.  As Gartner says, there is more to the story than the service cost from the cloud/SaaS provider.  

The right answer for most organizations today is "it depends".  The nice thing from the IBM perspective is we offer the right solution regardless.  Notes/Domino offers a very low-cost on-premise e-mail solution that also includes a full collaboration environment.  LotusLive Notes (formerly Lotus Notes Hosted Messaging) offers a published fixed-cost, pay-as-you-go hosting model for Domino mail.  And the LotusLive offerings announced at Lotusphere will expand further during 2009, with an e-mail only offering all the way through best-in-class cloud-based collaboration.

Link: Gartner: IBM Focuses on Domino Costs Savings > (Subscriber access or for-fee report)

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