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.

8 comments:

Torrance Miller said...

I am currently upgrading my company, Campus Management Corporation, from Sharepoint Portal Server to Office SharePoint Server 2007. You are the first blogger that I have found to question the majesty of MOSS '07.

I would like to point out a few things about SharePoint that many may not be aware of.

1) Microsoft Invested $1'000'000'000 in MOSS 2007
2) It is a all-in-one solution for website creation, intra AND internet (as well as extranet).
3) With BDC you can import data directly from LOB application running any kind of DB system.
4)WSS3.0 is free and comes with Doc Mgmt, Collaboration, and search service...
5)MOSS has MySites and MySite Templates which take internal connectivity to the next level allowing each employee to publicly state what they are well-to-do at.
6)You can host infopath forms online
7)Utilizing .NET 3.0 you can add custom workflows to SharePoint to automate many of your business processes.
8)With Excel Calculation Services you can Present Cube Reports from SQL Server '05
9)To Fab 40 Apps
10) Microsoft Office 2007 is the best!
11)Integrates with Project Server 2007
12)Integrates to Outlook

There is no doubt in my mind that MOSS will be the only way to develop websites in the future... especially with the integration of SilverLight 1.1 in the horizon.

Public SharePoint Sites:
www.hedkandi.com
www.hawaiianair.com

Karen Hobert said...

Seeing as my politics fall somewhere to the left of imperialism, I tend to question the majesty of most things that don't include purple mountains. I appreciate that you posted a list of the greatest of MOSS 2007 benefits. It demonstrates how far Microsoft has come since the introduction of SharePoint in 2001 and their second release in 2003. I believe that I gave Microsoft kudos for executing well.

My main point is that enterprises can't just make a vendor decision especially when talking platform decisions. Your case illustrates how MOSS can be a perfect fit for some organizations, especially ones that are dedicated to Microsoft solution, while at the same time may be a miserable fit for others. What about Mac users or Firefox users? What about organizations that use platforms other than Windows 2003?

It is not a trivial matter to migrate existing IBM Lotus deployments to MOSS . To get the full benefit, as IBM Lotus customers have enjoyed would involve a migration that included upgrading/migrating to Office 2007 (emphasis on the 2007), SQLServer, OCS (which is only in beta), and Windows 2003 server with an upgrade to .NET Framework 3.0 (which deserves ridicule when it comes to backward compatibility). These are non-trivial changes for enterprises.

I agree with most of your points and have commentary on a few:

1) Microsoft Invested $1'000'000'000 in MOSS 2007

[Karen] - personally I've been on projects where 100 billion dollars would not have made it a better product. I'm not implying that Microsoft hasn't done a good job, just in my mind more money doesn't always mean a better product, so I tend to look at monetary investments with cautious optimism.


2) It is a all-in-one solution for website creation, intra AND internet (as well as extranet).

[Karen] - from the perspective of IBM Lotus customers, they've had that since 1996.


3) With BDC you can import data directly from LOB application running any kind of DB system.

[Karen] - Yes, I agree, great benefit, IBM Lotus offers similar.


4)WSS3.0 is free and comes with Doc Mgmt, Collaboration, and search service...

[Karen] - I disagree. WSS 3.0 is a service of Windows 2003 server. It requires .NET Framework 3.0 (which, as I've said before, has backward compatibility issues). It also requires SQLServer which is not free.


5)MOSS has MySites and MySite Templates which take internal connectivity to the next level allowing each employee to publicly state what they are well-to-do at.

[Karen] - Yes, I agree, IBM Lotus also offers the similar with a broader integration model.


6)You can host infopath forms online

[Karen] - Yes, I agree, great benefit. IBM Lotus offers some forms-based interfaces as well.


7)Utilizing .NET 3.0 you can add custom workflows to SharePoint to automate many of your business processes.

[Karen] - yes, but they are not business grade without some deep .NET development. Also, upgrading to .NET 3.0 may cause other disruption to existing applications. No matter what you will need to plan accordingly and deploy .NET 2.0 and .NET 3.0 servers to support existing apps as well as MOSS.


8)With Excel Calculation Services you can Present Cube Reports from SQL Server '05

[Karen] - Yes, I agree, great benefit.


9)To Fab 40 Apps

[Karen] - My personal opinion is that they are no so Fab, but they are a bonus for getting started quickly.


10) Microsoft Office 2007 is the best!

[Karen] - Uh, OK. I agree that the integration of Office 2007 with SharePoint is good, but there's always room for improvement.


11)Integrates with Project Server 2007

[Karen] - Yes, I agree, great benefit.


12)Integrates to Outlook

[Karen] - Yes, Outlook 2007. The integration with Outlook 2007 is the ability for users to take SharePoint content (lists, libraries, calendar entries, and tasks) off-line, but it is not a substitute local client for SharePoint interfaces. In my opinion there are 3rd party tools (Colligo Contributor) that do a much better integration of Outlook 2003 with MOSS than the Outlook 2007/MOSS integration.

There is no doubt in my mind that MOSS will be the only way to develop websites in the future... especially with the integration of SilverLight 1.1 in the horizon.

[Karen] - It's nice to hear (and see) how successful you've been with developing web applications on MOSS. Again, I am impressed with what Microsoft has done in such a short time. I doubt however, that developing SharePoint applications will be the only way websites will be created in the future.

That said, ten years ago the only option for collaboration was Notes/Domino. Now there are many credible options that include open source and consumer SaaS services that may suit enterprise needs far better than IBM Lotus or SharePoint. I encourage all organizations to make informed decisions based on their business requirements.

jennifer said...

Hi Karen,

great comparison info.

just one quick correction: there's SQL Express which doesn't cost money ...but i'd say that for this installation it would not be a choice anyway. a customer does need to purchase/rent a server 2003 license though to run WSSv3.

best
jennifer

David Bell said...

Just a couple of points.

Since MS dropped the word "Portal" from the name, I don't think you can say it provides portal services with any credibility.

You can't do anything useful with it without full SQL server, so while it might fit MS's definition of free, it is not anyone else's.

As Karen points out, getting to a useful point with all of the dependencies and lack of backward compatibility will cost you a boatload of cash and heartache.

Anonymous said...

SQL Express would not be an option for Businesses that require fault tolerant highly available solutions... wouldn't even entertain it here.

Karen Hobert said...

I agree that SQL Express is not robust enough to support an enterprise deployment of SharePoint.

Regarding David Bell's comments on Microsoft dropping "portal" from the product name.I disagree that it reduces SharePoint 2007s portal credibility. Calling MOSS a portal server hemmed in the product to a portal solution and now portal services are a part of a larger set of collaboration and content management capabilities. My colleague Craig Roth posted some interesting comments on portal capabilities in SharePoint 2007.

David Bell said...

To quote another blogger: "A Portal is about supporting processes through integrated applications, not about dealing with doc, xls and ppt..."

Wikipedia: "Enterprise portal, a framework for integrating information, applications, and processes across organizational boundaries."

Which one is Sharepoint again ?

Karen Hobert said...

SharePoint 2007 is not just a portal. Stripped down to its architecture:

First, you have Windows SharePoint Services v3.0 (the free stuff)- a.k.a WSS. WSS is a framework the provides collaboration and list management services and is a part of the Windows 2003 server. WSS is essentially a platform that provides collaboration services and supports workspaces, site management, security, storage, site topology, and site models. The interface model for WSS workspaces is based on sites that have zoned layouts similar to portals only without the personalization and audience targeting capabilities typical of portals.

The Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (not free) - a.k.a MOSS - is a set of extensions to WSS v3.0 that supports six focus areas (according to Microsoft ):

Collaboration (WSS services)
Portal
Search
Content management
Business forms
Business intelligence

SharePoint portal services are now built into a broader set of capabilities and are extensions to the core collaboration services provided by WSS. This is an entirely different and converged model from the WSS v2.0 and SharePoint Portal Server (SPS) 2003 product offerings, which were separate and distinct. The MOSS portal services provide all the same portal services that were available in SPS 2003 plus the addition of the other focus areas.

To answer your question, MOSS 2007 offers both portal frameworks plus support for content management solutions and other collaborative and business intelligence capabilities.