This is very much a YMMV post. I recognize that not everyone sees or hears the same story I am being told; there are regions of the world where the IBM stack is winning. There are companies that cannot imagine a life without the IBM stack. However, with the cloud making all of the news, getting all of the attention, there are companies that use the “disruption” as a means to take a hard look at their current environment. In my little corner of the world, that disruption usually means that the IBM stack (Notes, Domino, Sametime, Quickr, Traveler) loses.
First, it’s no secret that the economy took its pound of flesh from the Northeastern Ohio area. During those wonderful years, several of my customers no longer exist. And as they went down, they may have moved to Google, then they disappeared. Or, they simply closed their doors. Others were bought by other, larger companies, and as they lost their individuality, they also lost the messaging platform “war.”
No surprises there. It happens all of the time.
But what about those companies that made it through the
depression recession? Those companies emerged to face a new player, the cloud, and all of the hype and promise that came with it. While they may not have moved to trusting another organization with their precious data, because there was a new player, it allowed them to look at how they currently run their businesses.
So, from those that emerged from the recession, those that are considering or have moved away, what do I hear?
By far, the number one answer is the “Lotus Tax.” I hear this from every single customer that has moved, or is in the process of moving. I hear it from customers that have no intention of moving. I hear it All. The. Time. What is this? Basically, the IBM stack is at a decided, competitive disadvantage when it comes to third party support. You want to invest in a new technology of some sort. You get down to decision time and discover that if you want to integrate this new “thing” into your IBM-centric environment, it’s either going to cost you more for integration or it just flat out won’t work. This certainly limits the things that you can do to sell more widgets or provide better/newer services to your organization.
The “Lotus Tax” can also be extended to another area: accessibility and availability of development and support resources. At one time, there were quite a few places where one could go to augment staff with external resources, using local assets. That is not the case currently, nor do I think it will ever be the case again. If you require someone for assistance in any area of the IBM stack, you have to go to great lengths to find and bring them in. The people that were once available have either moved in-house or moved on. In many cases, if you need resources, you have to go outside of the region, which increases costs. It really looks like support is diminishing rapidly, and with it, quite possibly, the quality of that support. On the other hand, if you move to, say Microsoft, there is a plethora of resources from which to choose.
I believe, from what I have been seeing, the “Lotus Tax” tells organizations that market share in the IBM stack is dwindling. If third-party vendors aren’t supporting it, if it is difficult to find development and support resources, if it appears that investments aren’t being made to enhance the products or the ecosystem, the market is speaking with their money and the organizations that use the technology are taking notice. If you made a choice, and it is now limiting what you can do, the options that you have available, organizations will move away. A Business Partner, an employee, may tell a different story, however the market is saying something contradictory.
Interesting, isn’t it, that in this discussion there is no mention of a UI, application development, security, replication, activities or social?