Marrying IBM Lotus Foundations Start Server with LotusLive

We find that IBM Lotus Foundations Start Server (LFS) is a great solution for the SMB.  It is especially useful for those companies that need to either upgrade an old server or do not have a server installed yet.  With the all-in-one-server solution, we truly can provide our customers with a solution that requires very little IT oversight and maintenance.   It is a win-win for both us and the SMB customer, because, with today’s tight IT budgets, there is not a lot of room in the budget for constant maintenance and support of the customer’s IT environment.  The customers have better control of their budgets and we have happy customers.

However, we often get asked: “What about the Cloud?”

This is a very good question and one that needs to be addressed.  Why would a company want to invest in an on-premise solution such as LFS when investing in similar solutions for the Cloud can be much less expensive, initially, and the costs can be spread out over time?  Furthermore, isn’t the Cloud the ultimate way to virtually eliminate the need for on-site IT services since everything is already taken care of off-site by the cloud service company?

In my opinion, the answer is both, “Yes and No”.

Although Internet service is getting faster and cheaper, many parts of U.S. big cities, such as Los Angeles, still have very few options for reliable and fast Internet service.  This is slowly improving, but it will take time before everyone gets a fair shake at speedy Internet at affordable prices.  Why is this relevant?  Well, without reliable, fast and affordable Internet connections,  it becomes difficult to host all of your IT services in the Cloud, especially if you are a smaller organization.  For example,  if you want to share and print large files in the Cloud, if your connection is too slow or it is down altogether, this can be a major inconvenience, drastically reducing employee productivity and, potentially, bringing your entire business to a screeching halt.

In addition, not all applications are available in the Cloud yet.  Sure, you can get mail and calendaring services with no problem.  You can also backup your entire network to an online backup service.  Also, don’t forget, that most everything stored in the Cloud is automatically backed up so you don’t have the constant worry about what would happen if you lost some or all of your files.  However, a common complaint is that spreadsheet, word processing, and presentation applications, such as what are available on Google Apps, still have very limited functionality.   You still need to have a full office suite of applications on your local computer to be productive.  This can be said about many other applications, as well.  These applications are constantly being improved, but it will be some time before you can get the exact same experience in the Cloud that you get on your local computer and network.

So, this all leads into the title of this blog entry “Marrying IBM Lotus Foundations Start Server with LotusLive”.

For those of you who have never heard of LotusLive, this is most simply put, IBM’s answer to Google Apps and Microsoft Live Cloud solutions.  If you go to http://www.lotuslive.com you can see that IBM provides a whole slew of offerings geared to customers large and small.  They have matched Google’s 25Gb total mail size limit and provide a fully featured mail and calendaring solution based on Lotus Notes and iNotes.  IBM has also added other features such as Meetings, Activities, Files, etc… to enhance the user’s Cloud experience.  Go ahead and check it out!

In an ideal world it would be great if we could take the on-premise LFS server solution to provide all of the local IT functions that businesses need and marry those with IBM’s LotusLive functions.  So, users could store, print and securely share files on their local network.  However, for mail and calendaring they could be given a few options:

1. Use IBM LotusLive’s iNotes solution for a web browser only solution; or

2. Install the latest Lotus Notes client through LFS and use LotusLive’s Notes solution; or

3. Use LFS’s own Domino and Notes integrated solution as it now; or

4. Take option 3 above, but also give the option to store each user’s mail file using LotusLive’s Notes solution so that mail would also be available in the Cloud

With options 1 and 2 above, we could reduce the LFS user and server license fees by removing locally available Domino and Notes completely from the picture and point everyone to LotusLive at a separate cost. This would make the LFS solution more affordable and IBM could still receive additional fees from LotusLive.

Option 3 would be it as it is today, but option 4 would provide both scenarios in a tightly knit package.

It is entirely possible that IBM is already working on something in this regards.  If so, that would be great!  Being able to provide multiple options to our customers would make it easier to make a sale while also giving the customer freedom of choice.  Another win-win.

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