IBM is making a new push with its Lotus Quickr line to lure Microsoft SharePoint customers and curb SharePoint's dominance in collaboration software.
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IBM earlier this month released its latest collaboration software product, Lotus Quickr 8.1. The company also debuted the Lotus Quickr Content Integrator, which lets users migrate data from Microsoft SharePoint and Exchange -- or, as IBM's senior product manager for Lotus Quickr, David Kajmo, describes it, "liberate content from the tyranny of SharePoint."
Peter O'Kelly, a research director for the Burton Group, said it's a good strategy for IBM.
"It's an important area for IBM to be focused on, because SharePoint is on a pretty significant market ramp-up," he said. "SharePoint really is a bit of a juggernaut."
Not surprisingly, channel reaction to IBM's push in collaboration software products is split. IBM partners think Lotus Quickr can take customers away from Microsoft, but Microsoft partners say they're seeing more migrations to SharePoint.
At PointBridge, a Chicago-based Microsoft partner, at least three customers this month have started the process of migrating from Lotus to SharePoint.
"It starts with Outlook and Office," said Lance Russell, PointBridge's co-founder and business development director. "People do their work all day long in Outlook, Word, Excel, so you start with the integration of SharePoint on the desktop. You add Office Communications Server into the mix, and you're talking about a pretty powerful collaboration platform. … Users prefer a more intuitive experience and an experience they're used to getting on their home PCs."
Russell also doubted the effectiveness of the Lotus Quickr Content Integrator.
"Frankly, there have been Lotus to SharePoint migration tools on the market for years, but we have not seen that be a huge value proposition," he said. "So I wouldn't expect it to be from SharePoint to Lotus either."
But Alexandr Kassabov, vice president of Lotus solutions for PSC Group, a Lotus partner in Schaumburg, Ill., said the Lotus Quickr Content Integrator can help customers whose SharePoint environments have grown out of control.
"We see people getting to a certain point [with SharePoint] and then realizing it's a much bigger project than they thought," he said. "At that point it can become a nightmare."
IBM partners can add value for those customers by migrating them to Lotus Quickr and helping them set up the right architecture and long-range management plans. IBM has to focus its Lotus business more on collaboration software products now, because the email market is pretty much saturated, Kassabov said.
"You're not going to have a lot of new, strictly email sales," he said.
Lotus Quickr can be an attractive option for customers who like SharePoint but need collaboration software that runs on non-Windows platforms, O'Kelly said. IBM is also positioning itself to attract customers who run a combination of Microsoft and Lotus products. The new Outlook connector, for example, lets users use Outlook for messaging and Lotus Notes Domino for applications, Kajmo said.
"Quickr should fit into a customer's existing environment and fit into the way end users already prefer to work," he said.
That strategy should help IBM take at least some business away from Microsoft, even if full SharePoint to Lotus migrations don't take off, O'Kelly said.