By Ron Herardian
In the United States, it seems that the decades-long Lotus-versus-Microsoft battle is long over. Certainly, it is no longer news. Microsoft Excel has all but replaced Lotus 1-2-3, Microsoft Office dominates corporate desktops compared with Lotus SmartSuite, and for a variety of reasons, more IT customers in the US use Microsoft Exchange and Outlook rather than Lotus Notes and Domino.
But is Domino a technology belonging to the past? With 130 million licenses sold, it's hard to make that argument. In fact, Domino is the most important alternative to Microsoft Exchange today.
Perhaps the most significant development in the historic Lotus-Microsoft epic was the explosion of Web technologies in the mid to late 1990s. Lotus embraced Internet standards and extended Notes and Domino to the Web, which made intranets a natural extension of Lotus' groupware technology.
The Microsoft lineup
Microsoft made Windows and Internet Information Services (IIS) a platform for both Internet and intranet applications by logically expanding Microsoft's operating systems and development tools to bring legions of Windows developers onto the field. While Microsoft made simple messaging a strength by tying Outlook to Windows and Office, they couldn't catch up to Lotus Notes as an intranet solution with the Exchange product and eventually introduced SharePoint and NetMeeting along with wireless and instant messaging solutions to challenge Notes, SameTime and Domino Everyplace.
In parallel to the battle over intranets, Lotus and Microsoft continued the fight over core applications: messaging, calendaring, and directory services. Microsoft attacked all three, targeting messaging and calendaring with Exchange and Outlook, and directory services with Active Directory. Lotus improved its messaging and calendaring solutions but never moved into directory services while at the same time focusing on collaborative applications.
"...potentially making Notes and Domino into an Exchange killer."
Including SharePoint, Microsoft's lineup against Notes and Domino includes Exchange and Outlook, Active Directory, IIS, NetMeeting, Mobile information Server, and Live Communications Server. Additionally, Microsoft coupled IIS and Microsoft SQL Server through its Active Server Pages (ASP) technology, providing a relational database back-end for Internet and intranet applications as compared with Lotus' NSF database and SQL database integration through Lotus Enterprise Integrator (LEI) and similar data integration tools.