Lotus Aims To Protect IT Investments in Microsoft

HONG KONG (04/28/2000) - The forthcoming introduction of Lotus Domino Offline Services (DOLS), which will open Lotus Development Corp.'s replication technology to the Microsoft Outlook client, is a bid to protect customers' investment in Microsoft Corp. products, according to a Lotus official.

"We've been working with Microsoft to build that (replication) capability (into Outlook)," said Ed Brill, senior manager of Domino product marketing at Lotus.

"In (Microsoft's) mind, it helps expand their market for (Microsoft) Office. In our mind, it fits in our client strategy of (allowing customers to) use whatever client is appropriate for the users."

"Overall, we have a strategy in the market right now recognizing that almost every customer prospect we talk to is as much, or more, a Microsoft customer," said Brill. "It's important for us to recognize that investment that customers have made and to provide products that don't threaten that environment, (and instead) leverage that environment in ways that are going to add value, not necessarily replace technologies."

Brill explained that opening up the Domino client to Outlook is part of the company's efforts to allow customers to leverage their investment in Domino and Notes' messaging and collaboration technology by providing access to Domino servers from a range of devices and third-party clients.

"What it does is to allow customers to say, 'I don't have to worry about what choices my end-users want to make around how they want to interact with the collaboration environment. I just provide that service and the central infrastructure. If they want to use Notes and get the value of an integrated client, they'll use Notes. If they want to use a Web browser and get that kind of a thin-client experience, they'll do so'," Brill said.

Brill said that in the future, DOLS will allow any applications served up by the Domino server to be used in an online or offline environment, without connecting to the wires, and still can fully be accessing the Web applications.

"It's a unique capability .... no one (else) in the market ... can offer a browser user as rich an experience to a disconnected environment," he said.

Cooperation between Lotus and Microsoft is set to expand into other areas as well. Brill said Microsoft and Lotus are talking about setting up a Web site later this year for customers to get information and share experiences on how products from the two companies work together, such as how to plug Microsoft's SQL Server database into Lotus Domino enterprise services.

Nevertheless, the two companies remain staunch competitors, a point that Brill made clear when discussing the upcoming release of Microsoft Exchange 2000.

"(Exchange 2000) has created an interesting opportunity for us, because the migration path to get from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000 is pretty treacherous," said Brill. "There're a lot of steps involved, you have to get your Windows 2000 implementation done and do it right. We started to see a number of customers that are on Exchange today looking for alternatives rather than necessarily going down the path of migration," he said.

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