Similiar to My 1966 Chevrolet Pickup… Friday, Nov 6 2009 

Great article on CNN about cloud computing. I love the statement at the end: “The cloud is not some fluffy ball of magic, it’s an energy-sucking and fallible machine.” Not unlike my sky blue 1966 Chevrolet pickup sitting in the garage that I swear I am going to get back on the road someday…

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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.

Five Reasons the Enterprise Messaging / E-Mail Market is Getting Interesting Again Tuesday, Sep 16 2008 

1.  Choice – For years Microsoft and IBM have dominated this market with Exchange and Notes, with Novell and Oracle holding onto a small share of loyal customers. With Google, Yahoo! (Zimbra) and Cisco (recently announced the PostPath acquisition) all pushing into the market, enterprises have some options to consider. Novell and Oracle both have major releases scheduled before end of the year also. Choice and competition are good for a mature market because they will foster lower prices and innovation.

2.  SaaS – The primary reason Google, Yahoo! and Cisco are interesting is that they are Software as a Service offerings for e-mail. Both Microsoft and IBM have similar offerings in the works. The SaaS model gives enterprise a new delivery model to consider. Larry Cannel covers this in depth in a recently published report that Burton Group customers can access here.  In addition, Burton Group customers can read the results and analysis by Craig Roth of recent Burton Group / Ziff Davis survey on SaaS here.   Also, Jack Santos goes in depth on IT strategy, SaaS, and Google in the document found here.

3.  Social Software – The social software evolution is taking e-mail back to its roots as an asynchronous communication method and providing interesting new ways for e-mail to fulfill this role in larger collaboration systems or platforms.

4.  Mashups – The interface for e-mail is becoming interesting again with mashups.  Check out any of these six solutions to see what I mean: ZenbeOrgooFuserTopicRGoowy, and Jubii.  These have been labeled by some as e-mail aggregators, but many of the features delivered demonstrate that there is much more than e-mail aggregation going on here.  Perhaps one of the most interesting mashups that is still in the “playing with the idea” stage is Adobe’s Genesis project.

5.  Legal Decisions – As I have previously blogged, the courts continue to delve into defining e-mail’s legal status through decisions that present challenges to users and enterprises alike. Compliance and e-discovery are becoming “block and tackle” e-mail issues that need to be addressed by enterprises, with the courts continuing to add complexity through new legal decisions. 

 

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