Lotus Notes needs the shrinkwrap treatment

Most people agree that IBM's Lotus Notes product is one of the most advanced and popular collaboration suites around, but....

Most people agree that IBM's Lotus Notes/Domino product is one of the most advanced and popular collaboration suites out there.

So how come I keep on seeing people dump it for Microsoft Outlook/Exchange?

Today brought the news that accountancy firm PKF is moving its 800 or so users across ... in March it was publisher APN News and Media.

Strangely, IT bosses at both companies praised Notes.

"Probably the product isn't quite as good as Notes as far as the feature set goes and workflow," APN's service desk manager David Slyderink said of Exchange back in March.

PKF CIO Mark Carmichael likes Notes too.

"Lotus Notes gives a lot of power in its portability, its replication features, so that staff can take information with them and still have it accessible in the office," he said this morning.

"So it's always been a powerful tool for professional services firms."

Now it's a bit tough to say exactly why some companies no longer seem to be keen on the trusty Notes, and without further data I certainly wouldn't go so far as to call it a trend.

But I would hazard a guess that it has something to do with Notes' reputation as being less of a shrinkwrapped, out of the box solution than Exchange.

People always mention Notes in the same sentence with the phrase "custom-developed applications". For modern CIOs ... that's not a term they like to hear.

One indication of this is the troubles I've been having with IBM in trying to get a review copy of the new Lotus Notes for Linux.

In a press statement on 10 July, IBM said "IBM Lotus Notes on Linux is now available as part of version 7."

Shortly after I shot off an e-mail to their local press team asking for a review copy.

10 days later ... still no Notes. They're still working out how I can actually run the application, apparently. And yes, I do have a variety of Linux desktops here ... I run Linux as well as everything else (Windows, Solaris, *BSD, Mac OS X, etc).

In contrast, testing out Microsoft's software is remarkably easy. You can simply download the latest versions of Outlook and Exchange (or anything else) from the Microsoft Developer Network and put them through their paces.

What do you think of Lotus Notes/Domino? Is it as good as Outlook/Exchange or does IBM need to put a little more work in? Drop me a line direct at renai.lemay@zdnet.com.au or post your views below.