May 23, 2007

Domino or SharePoint?

A recent post in the CIO Advice forum asked the following:



I find myself with a tough decision to make. Do I take my group forward utilizing Domino or SharePoint? I have the infrastructure for both. Any ideas? I would love feed back from anyone who is using either. Thanks in advance!

Below is my reply:

To reiterate what previous commentators have pointed out, it's very hard to make a blanket statement as to which is better. Part of the problem is that Domino and SharePoint are two different animals with many similar spots. It's hard to do a point by point comparison of the two.

This reflects the different approaches to the market that IBM Lotus and Microsoft are taking. Both vendors are making platform plays for the communication, collaboration, and content management (3Cs) market, they are just going about it differently. The 3Cs market has converged from separate application silos to platform infrastructure with integrated services, resulting in looser coupling of clients from platform services and more contextual interfaces. This convergence of technologies is opening up new opportunities for customers as well as vendors to take part in a market that was once dominated by IBM Lotus. Not only has Microsoft delivered on their collaboration promise with SharePoint 2007 products and technologies, other detractors (e.g., Oracle and Adobe) as well as open source (e.g., Zimbra, SiteScape) and consumer vendors such as Google, Yahoo!, and Cisco/WebEx, are making entries into the market with strong offerings. These new market realities are a bonus for customers who can leverage the competitive market to their advantage.

So the real issue boils down to, as my predecessors have pointed out, making an informed decision. Good news is that there is a lot of information to be found in a competitive market. There's also a lot of opportunity to try things out before you buy. New delivery models in the SaaS market are proving to be very attractive to many customers who are concerned with support, cost, and consolidation issues.

Getting back to IBM vs Microsoft, as I mentioned both vendors are making a platform play, it just depends on how deeply embedded you want to get with the technologies. As I pointed out, the two vendors are taking different approaches to the market:

  • IBM Lotus is taking a top-down approach refocusing on existing products and technologies (Notes/Domino, Sametime, and WebSphere Portal), offering Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC2) through a common extensible client, and  introducing two new Web 2.0-standards based solutions for team-based collaboration(Quickr) and social software (Lotus Connections) in the business. IBM Lotus has taken some daring steps with its new product announcements which, if they can deliver a compelling value proposition, will likely bring new customers to IBM Lotus. This product-centric approach is focused on providing solutions that can support different systems (e.g., Windows, Linux, Mac) and interfaces (e.g., desktop, browser, mobile) with mix-and-match capabilities. Even IBM Lotus' development model is focused on composite applications over platform specific applications. There is some overlap in the feature sets of some of the products, which IBM will need to figure out how to clarify, however with standards-based interfaces offers multiple options for customers.
  • Microsoft's is taking a bottom up approach where 3Cs services are provided on a single platform architecture built around Microsoft technologies, specifically Windows Server, SQLServer, Exchange Server, Office Communications Server (which is due to ship later this year) and Office 2007. All technologies support a common programming framework, .NET Framework, for application customization and integration. The Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 is essentially a Windows 2003 server with Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) that have been extended to provide portal, search, business intelligence, and content management capabilities. Its a holistic approach, where organizations that deploy all of these technologies will get the most benefit. Its also a commitment to Microsoft technologies - from the browser to the desktop and mobile device - in order to get the most fidelity and bang for your buck.

2007 is a pivotal year for both IBM Lotus and Microsoft with new offerings across the board for 3Cs. I'd say Microsoft is executing well with their strategy, go-to-market with both on-premises and SaaS offerings, and has made a very compelling value proposition. IBM Lotus still has a lot of ground to cover and catch up after its devastating Workplace product walkabout from 2000 to 2005. Right now, IBM Lotus has been focused on its install-base rather than taking on new blood. Still the new products - Quickr and Lotus Connections - could be IBM Lotus' lucky charm, but that all depends on how successful IBM Lotus is at bringing the products to market in the coming months.

It's never been a better time for the 3Cs market and the question is very timely. All enterprises with existing 3Cs solutions or those with interest in 3Cs should be asking the same questions. Given the nature of the go-to-market approach for both vendors, the decision boils down to a platform decision, and those decisions cannot be made in a vacuum. Organizations must plan ahead and deploy according to their business requirements. They should avoid using a technology (e.g., wiki, blog, workspaces) for the sake of the technology. Rather, enterprises need to examine their business requirements and apply the technology that will serve those processes the best. Customers may find that some technologies they thought they needed just aren't necessary, now or ever. Knowing these answers will help enterprises to decide which product, vendor, or solution will be best for their organization.

May 15, 2007

Data Center Strategies (DCS)

Burton Group has launched a new service, Data Center Strategies (DCS)! From the DCS blog:

The coverage areas for DCS are broken into four areas that we at Burton Group call “threads”.

  • Compute: The compute thread includes data center technologies such as: server architectures and blades, high-available clusters, processor technology, server operating systems, compute grids and high performance computing. Analyst Andrew Kutz will be your guide through the DCS “compute” thread.
  • Storage: The storage thread in an interesting one because it includes a wide range of topics from storage platforms and protocols to data management. Data management is the life-blood of IT. After all, “data” is the first word in “data center”. Keep a close eye here as Nik Simpson illuminates this strategic field.
  • Virtualization: Could there be a hotter topic than virtualization? A few years ago, server and storage virtualization was considered bleeding edge, worthy of lab projects and testing environments. Today, virtualization is a serious – if not the foremost -- consideration for almost every data center consolidation project. Chris Wolf is the man covering virtualization for DCS.
  • Operations and Management: Compute, storage and virtualization resources in the data center must be maintained, managed and placed into operational modes that create a flexible IT infrastructure for business. The O&M thread includes data center manageability, IT processes, power and cooling, outsourcing, co-lo, and operational modes such as disaster recovery that mold data center resources into IT operations. Richard and I are the primary analysts here but, all DCS analysts have some responsibility here.

Personally, I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such a knowledgeable team. Go here to find out more:

Source: Data Center Strategies

May 11, 2007

Disaster Central

California is "disaster central" to paraphrase Wolf Blitzer on CNN. I live and work in Southern California, Los Angeles to be exact. It's been a stunning week for LA with huge brush fires devastating two of our most cherished natural recreation spots, Griffith Park and Catalina Island. Since Griffith Park literally is my extended back yard, it was a very distracting Tuesday and Wednesday for me this week. I appreciate the fact that my work can be highly focused and I could "escape" the chatter of the choppers and sirens. The firefighters, police officers, rangers, public servants and all the service people who risked life and health to protect the populated areas of my neighborhood and city have my deepest gratitude.

So here's something I realized about why I like working with collaborative products. It took me less than 30 minutes to collect my belongings in case of evacuation. As I looked around the office I realized that I could pack up my life essentials into 6 easy to carry bags (albeit heavy bags). Of the 6 bags 3 contained laptops, some files (my insurance policy), a book, a friends screenplay (hey it's Hollywood), cell phone, iPod, lots of power cords and a digital camera. Essentially my office. I realized that even if I did have to spend the next few days, weeks, or months somewhere else, that my work life would suffer little disruption. Most of the data and information that I work with is maintained on a secure server and so I would be able pick up my work from any location. This is important to me because I enjoy my work and its nice to know that I can take it with me.

May 1, 2007

Chronicling Moore's Law

Don't you hate it when people don't keep their blog postings up to date. Simply put, "I apologize". I assure you that the time has not been wasted. For example, I've been reading John Markoff's fantastic book "What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counter-culture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry". Each story presented in the book describes how a particular person's individual creativity aided in the development of the first personal computers and ultimately the consumer market that we are part of today. That each successive person in the chain of developing the components that we now treat as just another appliance had to be able to take what came before and perceive what needed to come next. This sort of informed creativity is rare, it takes time, and mostly it takes radical thought. The creative person must be willing to utter heresies and deal with the unwashed to become informed on what to do next. Still in hind-sight there's lots to criticize and we will never know if the extremes that took place were actually necessary. However, like all creative pursuits, there needs to be passion, curiosity, a bit a magic and showmanship mixed with mega-doses of drama to pull it off. "What the Dormouse Said" captures some of those stories. If you've got the time I urge you to read the book.