On Oct 21, IBM announced Lotus Notes Hosted Messaging, the first in a wave of announcements around a strategic cloud services offering. No newcomer to the hosting arena, IBM has been providing custom outsourcing to customers for many years, and this includes hosted Notes, Domino, BlackBerry, and other business productivity applications. IBM plans to ship an iNotes version (IBM’s browser-based email) later this year.
IBM’s Notes Hosted Messaging offering comes in two flavors: one with a 99.5% uptime service-level agreement (SLA), and a clustered option with 99.9% uptime. Both are backed by financial commitments, and include email, calendaring, scheduling, and anti-virus and anti-spam services. Pricing (U.S.) is set at $108 and $150 per mailbox per year for the offerings above, which includes 500MB and 1GB of storage per user, respectively. A minimum purchase of 1,000 users is required, and IBM Lotus Quickr Entry is included with 50MB of storage. Customers must use the Notes client to access their email. Browser-based access will come in a hosted iNotes offering later this year.
IBM does not have a clearly articulated onboarding strategy to migrate customers from on-premises Notes or Exchange into their data center. At this point it seems that customers will need a dedicated VPN or MPLS connection to the hosted data center. In essence, with its lack of Web services support combined with the 1,000 seat minimum, IBM has turned its back on the SMB market, leaving SMBs to consider Exchange Online, Gmail, or a POP/IMAP solution.
This appears to be a counter to Microsoft’s aggressive Business Productivity Online Suite, notably Exchange Online. IBM claims to have native support for multitenancy in Notes Hosted Messaging, and will be scaling out its data center on powerful P-series servers. As of October 31, IBM had no customers on the new offering.
IBM is clearly behind Microsoft and will need to ship support for hosted iNotes, hosted Notes applications, hosted SameTime, and hosted archiving very soon if it is to mitigate the threat from Microsoft and demonstrate the ability to execute in a hosting market that is streamlining and standardizing rapidly.