LotusLive – IBM’s entry into the whole cloud computing and SAAS field. Arguably Domino has had this technical capability to work in “a” or “the” cloud for years though there were no buzz words attached to it and – IMHO – the market would not have been ready for the whole thought process. Though there are a few hosting companies (IBM among them, or Connectria, Promenic, …) that have made a good living servicing this need before Google and Microsoft came along and claimed the patent on it.
I assume that most readers of this blog will also – at least occasionally – listen to Lotus technology related podcasts. Two of my favorite Lotus related podcasts are This Week in Lotus and the Taking Notes podcasts. Both are well by their organizers, have dubious side-kicks(*) that assist the grand pod-masters and cover some really interesting technology and trends in great detail.
I listen to podcasts allot on my way to work and back in the subway or, if they are longer (both of these go about an hour) in the car on the weekend driving back-and-forth between home and DC. so this weekend I got a double whammo of listening to TEB (The Ed Brill) twice in the span of two days as he was on both of these casts going into more detail of the latest LotusLive announcements, especially LotusLive Notes.
Great feature set, good marketing, excellent price … wait, price – costs – there is something missing here. Timing of the release of these two podcasts made me first listen to Bruce and Julian (Taking Notes) talk to TEB and after it was done something was nagging me .. there were some questions missing that I had in the back of my mind ever since I heard the “official” announcements TEB had for us at IamLUG. Some of the blog entries Chris Miller wrote about Connectria already being in this hosting/SAAS/Cloud computing space for years were also racing around in my mind but it was close to midnight and I was trying not to get killed on the Jersey Turnpike so I just put those thoughts aside.
The Unanswered questions:
Sunday night I drive back south to DC and listen to Stuart (main man) and Darren (side-kick) ;) talk to TEB and this time it came to me. Or maybe waiting in traffic after crossing the Delaware bridge to go through the toll booths (why does not EVERYBODY have an EZPass??????? make it mandatory!!!) jogged somethin in my mind – in any case, the thing that was nagging now became clear: everybody was touting the $5.00/user/month rate for clients and the minimum of 25 users per company for LotusLive Notes. Great cost, easy to deal with … yeah, until the words “integration”, “competitive offers” and “Client provisioning” came up and the fact that TEB mentioned that bringing a client on takes some provisioning work on the back-end.
Well, integration – that is what I do for a living and have done for many years. The process of bringing an existing Domino/Notes infrastructure into LotusLive Notes – along with all the history and garbage that probably exists: older version clients, inconsistent client configuration, specialized mail routing, existing internet mail access for clients, VPNs, users that are VEHEMENTLY against local replicas (I love local replicas, unfortunately allot of clients don’t understand why this is considered “BEST PRACTICE”) and lack of experienced IT staff – or just a lack of enough qualified IT staff, etc., etc., etc. …..
Integrating an existing environment takes time and effort – time and effort directly translate into $money$. Everybody was always talking about how Google sold their product with the slogan “$50/user will take all your probelms away” until clients had to go through the actual process to get all of their users into the cloud … just look at the city of Los Angeles. Other questions such as how long such a move can take (on average, every client is different) and what kind of architectural changes (more details, I only heard something about OUs) are going to be necessary would have been great. But then again – I am a technical guy who very well might find myself on a project moving a customer to LotusLive Notes someday and am naturally interested in these details.
What nobody was asking was what the average project to bring clients “into the LotusLive Cloud” was REALLY costing – either as an average per user or per project. Nor was anybody asking about what kind of contract clients will need to sign in terms of length of contract. Just like phone companies give you that phone at a reduced price but require you to sign a minimum 2 yr contract to recoup the expense I assume that IBM needs to look at something similar – or can you just take your 25 people and leave after 4 months if it just ain’t what you had expected?
The reason I am asking this is that this creates a per user cost that has to be taken into consideration by the client … when does the break-even point arrive? How are my licenses that I had up until now going to impact my costs? TEB eluded briefly to the fact that IBM will take a clients contribution to licensing into consideration … but what if that move to the cloud now takes license sales away from business partners? Is there something in the deal for them or does IBM just poach clients and tell the business partners to go and look for some new business … I assume not but then again this topic was not covered.
Another question I had was whether IBM will just take those integration services, hand them to ISSL and that be it or will a business partner that sells LotusLive seats OR the business partner that was servicing this client for years and did all their licensing also have the opportunity to do the integration work and benefit from the existing expertise and experience of IBM in this field and maybe make this kind of work into a major part of their business? If IBM takes business on one side, they will have to give something else in return or they are likely to loose partners down the road.
In all fairness – Stuart did put something out on his Facebook page and asked for people to contribute questions for the podcast and I did not .. I only wrote a half-witty answer to something my favorite little Scottsman of HADSL fame wrote so I can’t blame anyone but myself on this one. Also, the podcast is only one hour long and you can’ ask EVERYTHING in one hour, even if you talk as fast as I do – and most people don’t.
So, why am I nagging?
So, why am I writing this? Well, there are some more pod casts put there and TEB still has breath left to talk (I think) so somebody please get him on their show and ask some more technical and monetary questions. Or, I also assume there are some white papers, technical documentation that might already be out there which covers this but nobody has been able to easily find on IBM’s website (a common issue, but then again I did not put allot of effort into searching for them prior to writing this either).
Or, we can get TEB to fire up his iPad and add a few posts to his blog where he either goes into this detail or points into the direction of information where the answers to these questions and more could be found?
Details? Thoughts? Dementis? Opinions? – Anyone got something for me?
(*) My stab at the “Dubious Side-Kicks” was totally UNCALLED for – they do a better job than I would at their tiny, insignificant roles – but I just could not resist .. I beg forgiveness gentlemen!
I am writing this at 1:30 AM and no animals were harmed in the process of mangling the English language, nor am I on the take of Google though I do like their Reader software and use Google Voice. I also must mention that I like cupcakes – though not at 1:30 AM