Google Snapshot Thursday, Mar 4 2010 

A very interesting snapshot of Google can be found here. Notice that Orkut is nearly as big as Gmail in number of users considering it doesn’t get much attention in the U.S. Worth a glance if you want a good picture of just how big Google is today.

CCS Blog Entry – Potential Zimbra Sale to VMware Monday, Jan 11 2010 

Earlier this week, Kara Swisher from All Things Digital broke the news that VMware may buy Zimbra from Yahoo! (Exclusive: VMware Likely to Buy Zimbra From Yahoo). I blogged my thoughts on possible buyers for Zimbra from the communications and collaboration market last September when rumors started circulating that Yahoo! was shopping Zimbra. VMware was not on the list.

My thoughts posted on the CCS blog – http://ccsblog.burtongroup.com/collaboration_and_content/2010/01/potential-zimbra-sale-to-vmware.html

H1N1 – Preparing for the Worst and Hoping for the Best Friday, Oct 9 2009 

Social distancing is a strategy that the federal government has included in the response plans for an H1N1 epidemic. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services states in its Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to the 2009 – 2010 Influenza Season:

“If severity increases, public health officials may recommend a variety of methods for increasing the physical distance between people (called social distancing) to reduce the spread of disease, such as school dismissal, child care program closure, canceling large community gatherings, canceling large business-related meetings, spacing workers farther apart in the workplace, canceling non-essential travel, and recommending work-from-home strategies for workers that can conduct their business remotely.”

The guidance also states:

  • “Explore whether you can establish policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), when possible, to increase the physical distance among employees and between employees and others if local public health authorities recommend the use of social distancing strategies. Ensure that you have the information technology and infrastructure needed to support multiple workers who may be able to work from home.
  • Identify essential business functions, essential jobs or roles, and critical elements within your supply chains (e.g., raw materials, suppliers, subcontractor services/products, and logistics) required to maintain business operations. Plan for how your business will operate if there is increasing absenteeism or these supply chains are interrupted.
  • Set up authorities, triggers, and procedures for activating and terminating the company’s response plan, altering business operations (e.g., possibly changing or closing operations in affected areas), and transferring business knowledge to key employees. Work closely with your local health officials to identify these triggers.
  • Plan to minimize exposure to fellow employees or the public if public health officials call for social distancing.
  • Establish a process to communicate information to workers and business partners on your 2009 H1N1 influenza response plans and latest 2009 H1N1 influenza information. Anticipate employee fear, anxiety, rumors, and misinformation, and plan communications accordingly.”

The impact on the business can be significant if the enterprise has not planned ahead. Key communication and collaboration tools (e.g. e-mail, instant messaging, web conferencing, and team workspaces) should be identified and evaluated for capabilities to help an enterprise to continue to function in the event that facilities are closed and large numbers of employees in certain geographic areas are ill or have to work remotely.

Adobe – One to Watch Thursday, Oct 1 2009 

I blogged yesterday on the CCS blog about “Zimbra for Sale?”. The blog lists several vendors in the e-mail / collaboration market and my thoughts on the potential for them to acquire Zimbra. Of all of them, I think Adobe is one of the most interesting to watch, at the moment.

Adobe’s strengths have been the creation and packaging of content. As Adobe looks to grow leveraging its strengths, expanding into communication and collaboration is a logical direction. But Adobe is doing it with a twist – a focus on SaaS (as evidenced by their recent acquisition of Omniture), while still providing on-premise capabilities. Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro is a great example. Adobe’s strategy plays well to what most enterprises are interested in – a hybrid model of SaaS and on-premise for their communication and collaboration technologies that gives them control over where the data sits.

If Adobe does add e-mail at some point, it will be interesting to see if they can make headway against Microsoft and IBM. Potentially, they could capture a market position as the alternative to Microsoft and IBM for the enterprise for communication and collaboration technology.

E-mail Archiving Wednesday, Sep 2 2009 

One of my current research topics is enterprise e-mail archiving, with a particular emphasis on the integrated archiving coming in near future
releases of Exchange 2010 and Notes 8.5.1. Interestingly, many organizations seem to believe that backups are enough and can be a defacto archive as needed. My CCS blog today is E-mail: Archive vs. Backup.

Chandler Project: A Note-to-Self Organizer Thursday, Aug 27 2009 

I just finished reading Scott Rosenberg’s Dreaming In Code – the story of Chandler project’s beginnings. As a result of reading the book and researching enterprise calendaring issues, I downloaded the latest desktop client. In its current incarnation, Chandler does not have much of “Wow!” factor, but given its history, it is pretty interesting. You can find the Chandler project at www.chandlerproject.org. They are on version 1.0.3 for the Windows client. I will be downloading the Mac client later this week also.

SaaS Challenge – What Do You Do When the FBI Raids Your Service Provider’s Data Center? Wednesday, Apr 8 2009 

One of the concerns about SaaS, particularly SaaS e-mail, centers around the legal aspects of an enterprise’s data being stored outside the firewall. The second concern is about downtime or failure of the service provider to provide the contracted services (for a variety of possible reasons). Yesterday’s FBI raid in Dallas validates both of those concerns:

FBI Agents Raid Dallas Computer Business

If you were online and couldn’t access some websites today, we might know the reason why. The FBI raided a Dallas building that houses servers for several different websites.
CBS 11 News has learned that the raid is part of a general criminal investigation. Because of the confiscation of computers at Core IP Networks, a number of legitimate businesses have been affected…

According to the Dallas/Fort Worth CBS 11 article, the raid left 50 businesses without access to their e-mail and data.

iPhone and Enterprise E-mail… A Few Months Later Friday, Oct 24 2008 

When Apple released its iPhone 3G earlier this summer, Apple touted it as “The best phone for business. Ever.” For most users, that means enterprise e-mail, calendar, and contacts on the device. 

The iPhone 3G launched with a native support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync – a logical, but interesting choice for Apple. Logical because Microsoft Exchange is, by most measures, the leading e-mail solution in the market. Interesting in that, given the desktop marketing wars between “Mac and PC”, one wonders why Apple did not provide native support for IBM’s Lotus Notes also.

So where do things stand with other enterprise e-mail solutions a few months later? Below is a quick summary for IT shops that do not have Microsoft Exchange:

Google GAPE: For the iPhone, Google provides a tailored web interface. Another option is Gmail for mobile, a Java-based e-mail application. Gmail also supports IMAP synchronization of e-mail to iPhone’s native e-mail client.

IBM Lotus NotesIBM announced at the end of September the release of iNotes Ultralite software that supports Lotus Notes on the iPhone. The software is free for anyone with a Lotus Notes license. iNotes Ultralite is web application that leverages the Safari browser on the iPhone to access the Lotus Notes functions. The advantage is that since it is a browser, no data is stored on the iPhone (except in the browser cache), should the iPhone turn up missing.  However, it is not a client, so no data on the device also means no synchronization with the iPhone’s native e-mail, calendar, and contacts functionality.

Novell GroupWise: GroupWise 7 ships with GroupWise Mobile Server – an OEMed product from Nokia for mobile e-mail, calendar, and contacts for GroupWise. GroupWise Mobile Server does not support iPhone and, with the latest end of life announcement from Nokia for the product, will not in the future. Novell customers can utilize a partner solution recently released from Notify Technology that provides full support for the iPhone and GroupWise through the native iPhone functionality using ActiveSync.

Oracle Beehive: Using IMAP, Oracle Beehive e-mail is supported on the iPhone. Another option is to install Oracle Beehive Integration for Outlook, through which iPhone users can also synchronize calendar entries, tasks, and contacts through iTunes. Like Novell GroupWise, Notify Technology provides a technically better solution for Oracle Beehive also, with full support for the iPhone and Beehive through the native iPhone functionality.

Yahoo! Zimbra: Zimbra supports the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol, which permits the iPhone to synchronize with Zimbra exactly as it would with Exchange. 

In sum, a few months later, there are ways for all of the enterprise solutions to get e-mail to the iPhone – mostly through IMAP or an optimized iPhone browser access. However, because Apple chose to support ActiveSync, the rich client experience of synchronization of e-mail, calendar, and contacts with the native iPhone clients is only available to those solutions that support ActiveSync. For IBM, Novell, and Oracle this means a web client, or a third party solution like Notify Technologies that connects their product with the iPhone through ActiveSync.

If Apple wants the iPhone to be “The best phone for business. Ever.”, Apple needs to add support for other e-mail vendors, notably IBM, to deliver synchronized enterprise e-mail, calendar, and contacts.

Note:  This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

IBM Announces Lotus Notes Hosted Messaging Thursday, Oct 23 2008 

“And so it begins…”

That is the lead that Larry Cannell will use next week when he kicks off our telebriefing entitled “Software as a Service Enterprise E-mail: Get Ready to Go Beyond the Grind.” Today, IBM officially announced Lotus Notes Hosted Messaging. The three heavy weights are now in the SaaS e-mail ring: Microsoft, IBM, and Google. Cisco and Yahoo! have said they will be joining soon.

For many organizations, this means that SaaS e-mail services are now a viable option, especially now that the two primary vendors of on-premise e-mail (IBM and Microsoft) have a SaaS alternative. IT departments can realistically consider transferring the responsibility and headaches for this essential utility to a vendor and reallocate their stretched time and resources to other projects. 

Legal compliance and discovery will remain a concern for many organizations. Who owns, possesses, and accesses the data in e-mail is important. A significant amount of any organization’s intellectual property flows through its e-mail. However, I expect that concern will be resolved over time as legal precedence is set and the vendors become more compliance savvy in their SaaS offerings. 

Organizations will benefit from SaaS e-mail because it will spur more innovation by the vendors. The e-mail client is an example. The web client has made significant technological progress because of consumer web e-mail. It will likely replace the desktop client in the future because of the advantages it provides a SaaS e-mail vendor. A SaaS vendor will not want to, or possibly be able to, upgrade desktop clients – that is difficult enough today for organizations with on-premise deployments. 

The change in the delivery model also provides many benefits. For example, not many organizations can say today that they are providing e-mail services for less than $10 a month per user. The economies of scale that the vendors can bring to this market will make the price point of SaaS e-mail very attractive. In addition, getting e-mail off of IT’s responsibility list will free them to work on other projects that may lend competitive advantage to an organization. 

A price war is a possibility. There is a significant amount of revenue at stake in this market. IBM is starting at $10 per user per month for Lotus Notes Hosted Messaging. Microsoft Exchange Online is also $10 per user per month. Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) suite of tools for enterprises is starting at $50 per year per user. Cisco (PostPath) and Yahoo! (Zimbra) have yet to announce pricing. 

“So it begins, the great battle of our time.” – Gandalf, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Note:  This is a cross-posting from the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

E-mail as a Managed Service Wednesday, Sep 24 2008 

I had the opportunity to speak with Scott Gode, VP of Marketing and Product Management for Azaleos, yesterday. Azaleos provides managed service offerings for organizations using Exchange.  They also have a beta going for SharePoint managed services.

A couple of insights that I came away with after the conversation:

1. The interest in SaaS e-mail offerings is also creating interest in managed services for e-mail.  Not all organizations are willing or able to make the transition to a hosted e-mail service, but still want some of the advantages hosted e-mail offers for their IT departments.  

Under a managed service model, the organization still has the solution on premise and pays for licenses and hardware, but the management and monitoring of the solution is outsourced to a third party, saving on internal IT resources.  

So, the managed services model still gives an organization complete control (and the associated expenses) of their e-mail solution (especially important to an organization concerned about the security of the e-mail content) as it is still on premise, but the day-to-day work to maintain is outsourced for a predictable recurring cost.  

2. Virtualizing Exchange can successfully be done, but you need to know the limits and optimize.  

Scott’s team lives in the Exchange world and has developed expertise in virtualizing Exchange.  Scott stated that they have benchmarked a virtualized Exchange implementation as high as 3,000 users. The metrics Scott’s team used were reasonable. However, keep in mind that any benchmark with an e-mail solution is just an indicator, your mileage will vary.  

For example, I once worked with a luxury home construction company with e-mail users that were pretty average in their use (volume, frequency, etc.) except… they liked to add CAD drawings as attachments. The large file attachments created unanticipated loads within their system and caused issues for outgoing e-mails.

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