Study: Microsoft beating IBM in e-mail battle

IBM and Microsoft toe-to-toe in the enterprise, but in SMB space Microsoft rules in terms of seat share

As far as dissatisfaction among users, the survey found that 50 percent of respondents using either platform were dissatisfied and were considering migrating at least some of their users to a new mail system, that users actually were migrating, or that they wanted to migrate but felt they could not.

But while dissatisfaction was high, actual migrations from one vendor to another represented only 10 percent of respondents and 5 percent of the total number of e-mail seats.

The results showed that for both vendors 29 percent of their installed seats were at risk of migrating.

And many migrations were due to consolidation as roughly one-third of respondents reported they run both IBM and Microsoft e-mail products. Those respondents represented roughly one-third of all seats reported in the survey.

The difference was that 96 percent of IBM shops moving off the platform were going to Microsoft and of those considering a migration 78 percent were taking into account Microsoft.

Of the Microsoft shops moving platforms just 44 percent were going to IBM, while 42 percent of those considering a move had IBM on their list.

The survey found that Oracle was perceived as a low-cost alternative, but that alternatives could come from the likes of Google or even Microsoft and IBM themselves.

The report noted that the focus on IBM versus Microsoft ignores what Gartner says is the next potential revolutionary shift in this market, a move to externally provisioned, commodity-type, standards- based e-mail.

"Microsoft's challenge is to its business model," says Austin. "That business model may not evolve fast enough to move from software license sales to Microsoft Office Live and Windows Live for the masses." says Austin.

The report found that the most three frequent reasons for migrating were costs, including moving custom applications; investments in infrastructure, tools, and staff training; and being unable to justify migration spending.

Gartner predicts that externally provided e-mail services will emerge as a significant and serious part of the enterprise e-mail market by 2010. And by that year, at least 8 percent of e-mail and calendaring users in companies of 500 or more e-mail users will rely on externally provided e-mail services as their primary enterprise e-mail service.

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