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Kicking the Windows habit: Domino vs. Exchange

IBM's Lotus Software and Microsoft Corp.'s messaging and development platforms have been duking it out for years. Microsoft's Exchange 2000 runs on Windows 2000 and uses Active Directory for directory services, while Lotus's Domino works on a variety of platforms. Catherine Lord, manager of worldwide strategy for Lotus Software IBM, positions the world of Domino against its archrival Exchange.

What can Domino deliver that Exchange cannot?
In clustering, Domino uses a "shared nothing" approach. It doesn't share disk drives or resources. It also clusters across the wire, which means another Domino server can serve as a hot spare in a different city. We've had a number of security items since versions 4.5 or 5.0, and the theme of Domino 6.0 is "always more." We have an execution control list, which prevents malicious code from running. In Domino 6.0 [shipping in Q3 2002] we've added more to make it difficult for unwanted items to get in. The server mail rules can prevent mail from a particular site from getting in, and the real-time black hole list support prevents blast mail from coming into your organization, or you can block out "bad IP addresses" found on lists posted on the Web. Another strong area is in cross-platform support. Where do you think Domino has an edge over Exchange in terms of administration?
In terms of providing a granularity of information, Domino 6.0 is proactive. Instead of fighting fires, we offer trend notification and some other capabilities. This is where people add third party tools or tend to do more manually or take extra steps to collect and assimilate information. Being part of IBM helps to draw on this capability. [IBM's] Tivoli provides management tools for Domino that uses the same look and feel as Domino administration tools. This is helpful for managing storage. In Exchange it's hard to plan for managing an adequate amount of storage. Tivoli lets customers do a trend analysis to plan for growth. There are more tools that help users add storage or migrate storage between servers. How do you position yourselves in the total cost of ownership battle against Exchange?
Licensing costs are similar between vendors. It's about 5% of overall total cost of ownership. We've added some tools for client license management. For Notes we've added policy-based management in Domino 6.0 and automatic client upgrades. They can administrate larger groups of users rather than repeat steps. They can perform functions in larger groups of users, and they can more logically group different users. It's more automated and customized. Where do you see Exchange as having an edge?
One area is their focus on the end client -- Outlook. What kind of reaction are you getting to IBM's decision earlier this year that Lotus will swap out the NSF (Notes Storage Facility) with a DB2-based store in the next version?
A lot of people didn't understand [our] strategy. But we've since clarified it. They understand we will support the existing versions, and they will have the option of migrating to Domino 6.0 or an alternative version when they are ready. It was initially a surprise, but it was largely a case where they didn't understand the benefits. What's your biggest challenge in terms of acquiring customer mindshare?
We don't see it as a problem. We are getting some assistance from Microsoft through its licensing agreement. As the July 31 deadline approaches, there are more customers looking for alternatives. [Many companies] have found it's less expensive to move to Domino than to upgrade to Exchange. Will Lotus follow Microsoft in adding support for SIP [Session Initiation Protocol] for future versions of instant messaging?
Lotus Sametime does not support SIP at present, but we are committed to adopting standards for IM. When customers choose Microsoft over Domino, what is the reason they give?
I'd say it may just be that they are used to a certain client.

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