Comparing oranges to oranges: Microsoft's hosted collaboration suites vs. IBM's LotusLive iNotes

Comparing oranges to oranges: Microsoft's hosted collaboration suites vs. IBM's LotusLive iNotes

Summary: IBM's announcement of a new hosted entry-level communications offering has led to lots of punditry around how it compares to Google Apps. But I think Microsoft, with its Exchange Deskless Worker and BPOS offerings, is IBM's main competitor in this space.

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IBM's announcement of a new hosted entry-level communications offering has led to lots of punditry around how it compares to Google Apps. But I'm not sure that's IBM's main competition here.

Google Apps Premier, which costs $50 per user per year, includes Web-based office applications (Google Docs), plus Gmail for businesses, Google Calendar, Google Sites and Postini hosted/archived email. IBM's LotusLive iNotes includes hosted email, calendar and contact management service -- but no hosted productivity apps -- for $36 per user per year.

I've seen almost no one analyzing IBM's new hosted offering in comparison to what Microsoft is offering business users.

Microsoft already has a business-focused hosted e-mail/collaboration product on the market known as the Deskless Worker Suite, which includes Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. Customers can get that suite for $36 per user per year. Exchange Online Deskless Worker includes e-mail, calendaring, global contact lists, anti-virus and anti-spam filters, and provides access to company e-mail via Outlook Web Access Light. SharePoint Online Deskless Worker gives you read-only access to SharePoint portal and team sites. If users want only Exchange Online Deskless or SharePoint Online Deskless, it's $24 per user per service per year.

Microsoft offers a more comprehensive hosted communications/collaboration subscription service -- one that includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Communications Online (corporate instant messaging and presence) and Live Meeting (Web conferencing and videoconferencing) -- for $180 per user per year. That is the company's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).

I asked Microsoft for its take on IBM's LotusLive iNotes announcement. I received back a statement from Clint Patterson, Director, Microsoft Unified Communications Group:

"Our competitors are just awakening to the fact that - when it comes to communications - one size doesn't fit all.  This flexibility - to equip occasional users with a low-priced, integrated email service as part of Exchange Online - has really resonated with our customers, and we've seen companies like GlaxoSmithKline choose Exchange Online Deskless, which costs $2 per user per month and works with the applications they already use, for more than 10% of their employees. Businesses don't care for consumer offerings dressed up as enterprise ready solutions, and millions of companies - and more every day - are choosing Exchange for the scalability and reliability it delivers, whether on-premises or online."

When Microsoft unveiled its Deskless Worker offerings back in the summer of 2008 that a number of pundits wondered aloud who the "deskless workers" were whom Microsoft was targeting with these products. As I recall, Microsoft's unveiling and explanation of the Deskless Worker features and pricing was confusing to us in the press and many in Microsoft's partner network alike. Now it seems as though industry watchers have forgotten that Microsoft has been selling these products for more than a year.

Topics: Collaboration, Enterprise Software, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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10 comments
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  • How odd...

    A claim to be comparing "oranges to oranges" when all you did Mary was toss your opinion about Microsoft's offering and Microsoft's statements about their own product rather than anything that's actually about iNotes.

    That is not a comparison of anything. You don't even attempt to go into what iNotes is or anything.

    What next, are you going to ask Microsoft's opinion of the new Ubuntu as opposed to actually doing anything like looking into it.
    zkiwi
    • my point

      Hi, my point wasn't to review these products. it was to note the fact that people are comparing apples to oranges when they compare google apps to the new LotusLive iNotes product. i have seen lots of people saying: "wow, ibm undercut the price of google apps." they don't point out you get more with google apps because you get the actual office apps there, too. (on the downside, you get google's still not-quite-there-yet understanding of what it takes to support an enterprise-type application).

      sorry if i didn't make that clear enough. again, my point was to say: google docs competes with microsoft's still-unfinished office web apps. if MS included office web apps in its deskless worker products, or if ibm included a web-based office suite in the lotus live inotes product, then those three things could be compared appropriately based on price/features.

      thanks. mjf
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Thanks...

        I guess...
        zkiwi
      • Half baked ?

        "then those three things could be compared appropriately based on price/features"

        Maybe they can be compared.
        I think comparison between the offers are still missing.

        It is not really easy to compare:
        https://www.lotuslive.com/en/compare
        http://www.microsoft.com/online/buy.mspx
        http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/index.html

        so far the lotuslive offer seems to be the most complete in terms of products and collaboration, but what is still lacking is a good comparison of oranges to oranges with all the products and features.
        (including hotlines)
        Mighty_BOFH
  • Doesn't it still require Office license too?

    I know that used to be the case. You could use MS online tools if you had Office and Outlook.

    If that's still the case, it's a crap deal compared to anything. You pay for Office, then pay again to use the online version.

    Hopefully they abandoned that requirement.

    Funny how Google can develop rings around IBM. IBM should get out of the development business and just partner up with Google.
    Chad_z
    • Office is not required

      Exchange Online Deskless uses Outlook Web Access (Outlook Web App) light as the client interface. There is no requirement for Outlook nor any Office application.

      Thanks,
      Clint Patterson
      Microsoft
      Clint Patterson
  • RE: Comparing oranges to oranges: Microsoft's hosted collaboration suites vs. IBM's LotusLive iNotes

    Very mis-leading heading. Very much unlike other stuff from the author. There is no real comparision. The least I was expecting was feature break-down or a comparision chart.

    Any idea where to find real comparision chart?
    samunplugged
  • RE: Comparing oranges to oranges: Microsoft's hosted collaboration suites vs. IBM's LotusLive iNotes

    "As I recall, Microsoft?s unveiling and explanation of the Deskless Worker features and pricing was confusing to us in the press and many in Microsoft?s partner network alike. Now it seems as though industry watchers have forgotten that Microsoft has been selling these products for more than a year."

    If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it does it make a sound.
    curph
  • RE: Comparing oranges to oranges: Microsoft's hosted collaboration suites vs. IBM's LotusLive iNotes

    OK, I get it. "Oranges to oranges" is a comparison that doesn't actually compare, but simply compares what could be compared if you were comparing, which you're not. Very useful. I must bookmark.

    And will there be an apples to apples comparison that actually compares something? Or is that one apples to socks?
    dave.leigh@...
  • RE: Comparing oranges to oranges: Microsoft's hosted collaboration suites vs. IBM's LotusLive iNotes

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