It is inevitable and welcome that a revitalized Lotus has launched a hosted email and calendar service.
Inevitable because cloud-based email services are on the rise and IBM isn't going to miss out on that. It might be your entire messaging system -- email, calendar, contacts as in hosted Exchange, Gmail, and now Notes Hosted Messaging. Or it might be an ancillary service as in email filtering from Microsoft, Google Postini, or Symantec MessageLabs or Exchange management from Azaleos. But pushing email out of the data center and into the cloud has some real benefits (outlined below).
Welcome to enterprise customers because having Microsoft as the only hosted email service in town limits customer choice. And that's never good.
Oh yeah, then there's the attractive price. While nobody can undercut Google's $50/user/year price, IBM has aggressively priced this offering for between $8 and $18 per user per month.
Colleague Chris Voce and I are working on a matched set of reports that do deep dives into the costs and opportunities (and risks) of moving email into the cloud. After months with a messaging cost model spreadsheet, I'm here to tell you that the Notes Hosted Messaging price is great for email that you don't have to worry about. Look for our reports in November, but feel free to check in now if you want to talk about the findings.
So who should look into IBM's new Notes Hosted Messaging service? At least these three groups:
- Existing Notes customers that want to move email for some employees into the cloud. This "domain splitting" solution lets you keep the high-intensity users on-premise and offload the low-intensity users to someone else.
- New customers looking to go with IBM and not Microsoft. IBM Lotus has many other collaboration products and plans to extend its cloud-based collaboration services way beyond email and calendaring. So get started with messaging and add instant messaging and other collaboration services as they come online down the road.
- Cash-constrained customers that want to move to the latest version of email. The two real advantages of cloud-based collaboration services are: 1) the pay-as-you-go pricing model, which keeps money in the bank and assets off the balance sheet; and 2) the offloading of administration and maintenance hassle that consumes so much of the IT budget.
For Microsoft Exchange customers or companies that want to upgrade or shift to the Microsoft messaging and collaboration solution in a cloud-based service, there are plenty of options: Microsoft Online Services, AT&T, Intermedia.net, HP, EDS, and a slew of others.