IBM claims momentum for Lotus Notes

Says Notes licensees up 4% from last year

Ahead of its annual Lotusphere conference next week, IBM claimed that its Lotus Notes collaboration software is starting to turn the tide against its bigger rival, Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange.

In a statement released today, IBM said it has 145 million Notes licensees worldwide, up almost 4% from the 140 million licensees IBM reported last year.

In the 15 months lading up to Sept. 30 of last year, IBM won more than 12,000 organizations and companies as first-time customers, many of them former users of Microsoft Outlook and Exchange, it said.

That's no coincidence, said IBM, since it launched Lotus Notes 8 in August 2007.

IBM also claimed in its statement that "a number of customers that Microsoft had previously announced would migrate to Exchange are now stalling or abandoning those plans."

An IBM spokesman declined to name those companies. However, companies that IBM described in its release as "new wins" over Microsoft include Southern California Edison, Nationwide, Global Hyatt, CEMEX, 3M, State Bank of India, The Hartford Financial Services Group, Banco do Brazil and, most prominently, Coca-Cola.

The Coca-Cola Co.'s executives will be featured at the Lotusphere conference in Orlando talking about their experience running Notes for more than 200,000 employees worldwide, according to the spokesman.

Coca-Cola is the global parent company to 51 subsidiaries, including U.S.-based Coca-Cola Enterprises, which switched to Microsoft's Exchange Online services for its 70,000 employees last spring.

Third-party estimates show Exchange topping Notes, though they range from "easily" to "with difficulty." Ferris Research's survey found Exchange's installed base at 65%, and Notes holding 10%. Market research firm IDC pegged Exchange at 52% versus Notes' 38%, while Gartner Inc. saw a tighter battle, with Exchange at 48% against Notes' 40%.

Nevertheless, the "battle between Notes and Exchange remains heated, with both Microsoft and IBM eager to demonstrate market momentum.

Asked for a comment, a Microsoft spokesman said that more than 10 million people have switched from Notes to Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint in the past two and a half years, with more than 2 million in the past six months alone.

Some analysts agreed with IBM's contention that Notes to Exchange migrations have slowed in recent years.

"Every Notes user says their strategic direction is to migrate to Microsoft, but as a practical matter, those who could have easily done it would have already done it," analyst David Ferris told Computerworld in November. "Migrating is too much hassle; the porting costs are too great."

Microsoft hopes to ignite Exchange takeaways when it release the next version, called Exchange 14.

Microsoft said via a blog posted Tuesday that it has already been publicly testing Exchange 14 for the past 15 months.

Microsoft said 3.5 million students, faculty, staff and alumni at 1,500 schools have been using Exchange 14 through the Web-hosted Exchange Labs software, some of them as far back as October 2007. The company declined to state a release date for Exchange 14.

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