In the last few days, both Google and Microsoft have made interesting announcements pertaining to their efforts to convince IBM Lotus customers that migrating away from Notes in difficult economic times makes some kind of business sense.  On Sunday at their partner conference, Microsoft told partners in their Notes Transition program that "Notes Compete" has funding for three additional years, after running for four already.  

While some might admire tenacity, I think the move smells of desperation.  Microsoft has essentially admitted that seven years and hundreds of millions of dollars are going to be needed for organizations to consider migration, make decisions, and then the hardest to complete, actually migrate.  That smell apparently permeates the conference, as Warren Elsmore wrote in his first day summary:

Biggest lie so far? 'We have countries that are now completely Notes-free'
Meanwhile, Google's efforts to go after Notes customers with GAPE took an interesting twist today when Google announced free Notes to Google migration tools.  Everybody has free something-to-something migration tools, they are essentially table stakes.  But they otherwise only trotted out an already-used customer reference and a white paper.   That white paper is interesting -- much like Microsoft before them, Google's answer to "what do you do with Notes applications" is actually five answers -- Sites, Spreadsheets (really?), Gadgets, Apps Scripts, App Engine.  Isn't that all marketing-speak for "do over"?

What the two moves have in common is that migration is not an obvious exercise, especially when the alternatives from each vendor are commoditized, yesterday's-news offerings.  Google's entry point to these conversations seems to be their $50/user/year advertised price for GAPE, but the industry seems to be finally coming around to the realization that what you pay for e-mail SaaS does not equal your fully-loaded operational costs.  It would not surprise me if Google is seeding the market in non-economic terms to get a few customers to try moving.  

In either case, what's the real attraction? GAPE is a set of commodity services that was roundly trounced by LotusLive Connections at Enterprise 2.0 last month.  Microsoft's BPOS delivers a limited set of collaborative functionality.  IBM, on the other hand, offers the most complete spectrum of collaboration solutions -- on-premise, in the cloud with LotusLive, or even "in the fog" (self-managed, autonomic appliances like Lotus Foundations).  We have proven out reliable, scalable, secure, open, and flexible.  At Gartner's recent collaboration conference, analysts described Lotus Notes as being at the head of the client e-mail pack...realizing the vision of "contextual collaboration" more than any other vendor.

I am definitely watching and aware of competitor moves and measure their potential impact to the Notes marketplace.  The best way to respond, though, is for us to bring forward more references and success -- such as we did in our press release several weeks ago, and you'll see in more announcements this week and beyond.  I'm always happy to find room to tell more stories of success from customers and partners in our space.  And I'm looking forward to the acceleration of LotusLive, the release of Notes/Domino 8.5.1, and a few surprises along the way.  By next week, we'll have moved on from tools and pronouncements.

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