Yesterday was a marque day for Facebook. In one single announcement they made me, an IT professional, start to take them seriously. I don't have a Facebook account, nor do I use Google for anything major except search and maps due to their negligent approach to my privacy. Still they got me thinking:
What does this mean for Notes and Domino?

Well, luckily ReadWriteWeb has done a very good job of working through this via this posting on their site.

Basically Facebook (with their new puppy Microsoft) are squarely matching up for an epic battle with Google for the young consumer. Google, with a desire to enter the Enterprise market that is, well, misplaced, will now further move it's weight into the arena. Those who have used them know that  Google's tools for the Enterprise are pretty crappy, especially the management. But if Google has taught us anything it is that the learn real fast. I fully expect that in 12 months or less they will have addressed that.

As Alex Williams in his ReadWriteWeb post puts it:
Facebook goes after Google and Google pursues Lotus Notes

Wow, you really couldn't have put it in a more compact and succinct sentence.

When you read the post you will see Google's angle of attack is pretty simple, in fact it was much like Microsoft's before them......provide tooling to make migration simple, easy and alluring. Screw the feature set, look at the migration cost. This was very, very effective strategy for Microsoft and now that they have wrung as much out f that seam as possible they are off to a new mine (I'm sure someone will tell me MS gave up, and I'm sure they did.....just not for the reasons you think). Google, taking it's cue to step into take the MS scraps and show them a new shiny ball of tin foil.

I would not trust Google as far as I could throw them, in fact they are starting to make Microsoft look like a upstanding citizen of the corporate community, but customers do. Like MS before them they tout the  free migration tooling, available at no cost to the customer. Add that to the check cashing machine that is the cloud and it is like you have slipped a roofie into the customers coffee. But if I was going from Google or Exchange to Lotus Notes I'd have the same, right? Wrong.

I have said this before, and will no doubt say it again, the migration tooling provided by IBM to move customers to Notes and Domino are atrocious. Go on, look at the help. Go to the admin help, then to the index and look the the category "migration". Ok.....erm......

Now search the admin help for that term. 37 topics. Hum,. how about "Exchange"? 46 matches. Lastly, "Microsoft Exchange", a-ha! One sentence in one document. Of all of these I can see no clear options to :

a) be able to migrate to Notes
or
b) how to start said migration were it to be possible

Now off to the Domino wiki world, let's see what is out there. Searching for "Exchange" looks promising at first glace, but nada except two posts outlining "commercial tools" here and here. There is one tip for doing it "free", and it is a classic:
For a simple copy & paste migration of Outlook PST data, connect to Domino using Lotus Domino Access for Microsoft Outlook, and then copy and paste your mail, contacts and calendar to your NSF database.

I am rarely an emotional man, but that above actually made me cry. For a long time.

Hum, so there appears to be no free migration tools available to take me to the promised land of Lotus Notes. Maybe Google and Microsoft are right, "that just adds to the high cost of Lotus Notes". That would also suggest IBM are neglecting the platform because if there are no "provided" tooling then there must be no one doing it. We're in the envious place of being able to create our own FUD. How cool is that?

AVIS, the car rental company used to say:
We try harder because we are number two

I would seem to me that IBM should take heed of the advice from AVIS or else be left wondering why they are number 3 or even 4. There are some tools starting to seep out of IBM for LotusLive migrations so I would humbly suggest these tools also be made to work for server-room based Domino servers.

And while you are at it, feel free to ditch the Lotus name from everything. But you know this already as I'm sure there was a reason that "IBM Websphere Portal" was never renamed. And imagine all the free press IBM would get for that announcement. Still, Stuart and I would need a new name for the podcast but I'll think we'll survive. It worked for Accenture it can work for IBM Lotus Social Center too.

Oh, and there is a freely provided tool to migrate. I challenge you to find it and use it to, lets say migrate a local PST file into Notes. I rest my case.

Oh, and maybe, just maybe Facebook has just unleashed Vulcan.
Darren Duke   |   November 16 2010 03:43:30 AM   |    notes  domino  google  facebook  microsoft    |  
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Comments (4)

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1 - Nathan T. Freeman    http://ntf.gbs.com    11/16/2010 8:21:58 AM

Actually, I think it would be spectacular for IBM if Facebook's approach to messaging turned out to be a lot like Vulcan. It would validate IBM's approach, and it's impossible for Facebook to itself be a competitor. FB is one piece of the cloud that's never going to be an enterprise player. Nobody would be nuts enough to move their internal data to Facebook, and it seems unlikely in the extreme that FB will come up with an intranet installable version of their platform.

The R&D battles between Facebook and Twitter give IBM a great labs just through observation. Few of these tools are hard to reproduce once you have the platform infrastructure. As long as they keep pace with shipping, it puts them in a nice position.

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2 - Phil Salm       11/16/2010 9:16:40 AM

Darren, I couldn't agree with you more on this. What is needed is explicit effort on promoting Notes as a better email platform than the competition, along with free tooling for migration. Only saying Notes is more than email sounds like a concession that the competition is better at email.

Email is currently the foundation for the entire collaboration suite (and unified communications), though this is shifting. Clearly IBM's moves with Vulcan, Cisco's moves into social software, and the subsequent claims by Gartner and now Facebook validate this.

But I disagree with Nathan that IBM's early technical lead in this direction puts them in a good position. They were way before Exchange with Notes. They were light years ahead of Sharepoint with Quickplace/Quickr. They were market leaders with Sametime way before OCS/Lync emerged.

When Microsoft flopped with Vista, did their executives say, "we need to avoid the OS religious wars"? I don't think so. They came back with a wave of consumer-focused TV ads (and continue to do so) to turn the tide of negativity towards the brand.

Erick Mack posted today about dealing with the on going hatred of the Lotus brand. While I commend his efforts to turn this perception one user at a time, and share in this daily, it is IBM's responsibility to spend the money on a Smarter marketing effort for Lotus products.

Either that, or I hope IBM sends me some clear instructions on what IBM software I should sell to tomato producers to get their products to the table, or what software I can sell health care organizations that will beam doctors information about patient health issues before the patients know about them. Talk about the need for a Smarter Planet... geesh.

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3 - Richard Moy    http://www.dominointerface.com    11/16/2010 10:08:59 AM

Darren,

I couldn't agree more. As an advocate of the Lotus products it pains me to see what is happening. IBM talks all the time of Smarter Planet, Smart Business. How about some Smarter Marketing. A good example is Sharepoint versus Quickr. Just look at the web sites covering this two products. Unfortunately, the Lotus brand is damaged. And now with the hold Lotus Foundations fiasco it is definitely damaged especially in the small business community which IBM may not agreed is the critical market since image and perception of a product comes from the small business market. Remember every individual consumer is a small business of one.

Image and perception is everything. Look at Apple on how they protect there image and brand. Regardless on how great the technology is, marketing is key to creating the demand. I cannot understand the direction or lack IBM is heading. I suspect with a company as large as IBM there is many turf wars going on.

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4 - Lotus Noes support    http://www.ibsi-us.com    11/18/2010 10:16:04 AM

Perhaps seeing more competition coming from other smaller players like Facebook and Twitter, IBM will finally wake up to start doing something more serious in the direction of saving the Lotus Notes reputation as the email product. Or perhaps if IBM is not interested in keeping Lotus Notes as an email product and it's simpler to just acquire Facebook?