When Ed Brill posts an entry like one from December 13 (Link), it sparks too much thought in my head to fit it all into a comment.
It’s almost 2009, why are we still fighting over what email client a user wants to use? Email is ubiquitous, that’s what standards are all about. POP3 or IMAP — both are fine protocols. As long as my client talks one of those and my server talks one of those, I can use my client against my server. As a vendor selling email servers, why do I care so much about what client is being used to access my server? I still get to charge access fees regardless of the vehicle used for access.
Imagine if the development of the National Highway System was sponsored by Ford. We’d all be driving Model T’s right now to be able to take full advantage of the highway. Not a Ford? Sorry, you can’t go faster than 45. The Tollway Authority, at least in Illinois, at least to my knowledge, does not discriminate, does not care what car you drive: Ford, GM, Honda or Ferrari — all get charged the same access fee. You drive whatever tickles your fancy or fits your budget, but everyone gets to pay $3 to drive on the Chicago Skyway.
IP Telephony vendors figured this out long ago. With the advent of SIP as the standard, even Cisco, in addition to its proprietary Skinny protocol, started supporting it. The IP telephony vendor – Cisco, Broadsoft, Asterisk – cares about selling his switch. What phone you use, is of less import. And while, of course, they would love to sell the cobranded and pre-packaged phones with their solution, you can opt to use a brand of your choice.
And if you want to be a phone vendor, your phone has to be able to compete with other phones and be able to be used with all kinds of switches. Aastra, Polycom and others have long been playing this game competing on features, price, compatibility. And if you can’t make a phone as good or better as one of these vendors, get out of the game.
Imitation is the best form of flattery. In release 8, Lotus pretty much all but publicly admitted that users want Outlook. The layout, the colors and other UI nuiances of the 8 version of the mail template pay homage to Microsoft Outlook. In the words of the great Bugs Bunny, “if you can’t beat them, join them”. There are fans and then there are fanatics. Fighting fanatics is usually pointless. IBM has a great server — Lotus Domino. Microsoft has an OK server — Exchange. Microsoft has a great client — Outlook. IBM has an OK client — Notes. Right or wrong, Outlook is king: users like it, users want it, 3rd party vendors integrate with it. So why fight it? Why not let users make their own choice of which client they want to use? Users don’t care what server delivers their email, take this decision out of their hands. As long as I get paid every other week, I don’t care what payroll system my company uses. As long as my email gets to me, I don’t care what servers it went through. Why not make Lotus Domino mail open to be accessed by other clients?
Lotus Domino is a great server. Its advantages over Exchange are numerous. From the IT perspective, most organizations I deal with would rather run a Domino infrastructure: it runs on most any platform, it stays up, it is easy to administer. But alas! Users want Outlook and Outlook automatically means Exchange. Let’s stop allowing the users and the impetuous CEOs hold IT hostage. Let the users decide what applications they want on their desktops. And let’s leave the back-end decisions in the hands of people who are qualified to make them — the IT department.
Both IBM and Microsoft understood this long time ago. You can use any browser to access your Hotmail account or an IIS website. And you can open Word documents in Symphony. Yet the email client war rages on. The last frontier to be won or pointlessly lost. If you can’t make a great client, stop making it. I would much rather see the efforts and the dollars go towards making a great server even better. If you win the back-end war, who cares what client is used to connect to your server — you still get to charge an access fee.
Filed under: IBM, Lotus Notes | Tagged: IBM, Lotus, Lotus Domino, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange | Leave a Comment »