Google Opens Attack on Lotus Notes Installed Base

Google Opens Attack on Lotus Notes Install Base

Google Tuesday set its sights on IBM, unveiling a tool to migrate Lotus Notes users to Google Apps and releasing a whitepaper laying out how to migrate Notes applications to Google's online infrastructure.

Google Apps Migration for Lotus Notes lets users migrate mail, calendar and contacts from Lotus Notes to Google Apps. The tool is a native Notes application and is free with the Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE) and the education and nonprofit versions of the Google Apps suite. Google is offering the migration tool as part of the trial version of GAPE so users can try it out.

"By targeting the Domino base with a server-side migration utility, Google has clearly identified domino as vulnerable to seat share poaching," says Matt Cain, an analyst with Gartner.

IBM was quick to hit back with a response.

"The fact that they've got a migration tool is not materially significant. Migration tools are a very basic part of being in the e-mail/collaboration business," says Sean Poulley, vice president of IBM cloud collaboration. "IBM is very confident in the position and long-term competitiveness of the IBM Lotus portfolio. We have a long-standing reputation for security and reliability and are trusted by the majority of major businesses around the world. We are innovating in cloud computing as well. In fact, LotusLive beat Google Apps in a side-by-side comparison and won the Enterprise 2.0 Conference Editor's Choice Award for Cloud Computing June 22 in Boston."

The Google tool performs the migration completely from the server side so Notes users can continue to work while the migration is in progress. Once migrated, Gmail will open Notes links with the Notes client. The tool also includes monitor, management and logging tools to control the migration.

While the migration tool is fairly straightforward, Google is providing no more than a whitepaper to guide users through the migration of Notes applications.

Vendors such as Casahl offer a range of software tools for converting Notes applications to other platforms. The conversion, especially of a sophisticated Notes application, can be a painstaking process that includes major rewriting.

"Application conversion will always be problematic," Cain says. "After any Domino shop migrates to another e-mail vendor, the applications live on for at least three more years. For complex Domino applications, there is no such thing as "conversion." Complex Domino applications require a complete rewrite to move to an alternative platform. It is indeed a stretch to think that Domino applications will be converted to Google App applications anytime soon."

Google says former Notes users JohnsonDiversey used Google Apps Migration for Lotus Notes to migrate 10,000 employees. Systems integrator CapGemini used it to migrate 30,000 employees at Valeo, a move that included a number of custom Web applications. The project also included OpenSSO to support single sign-on.

Google has had a long fight with Microsoft in the collaboration space and now the search giant is branching out. Last week, Google stripped the beta tag off its Google Apps platform, signaling that it's serious about meeting the needs of corporate customers.

This week, Google is adding the other major player in the market, attacking the Lotus Notes install base that numbers 145 million. Many of those customers still face migrations to Notes 8, which shipped nearly two years ago.

"We hope this is a continuation of making our product more attractive to the enterprise space and making it easier to adopt Google Apps," says Michael Lock, director of enterprise sales and operations for the Americas at Google.

Lock says CIOs are concerned about three things with online applications: functionality, security/privacy and how do I get there.

"This announcement today is a how-do-I-get-there announcement," he says. "The applications are a bit more of a challenge; it is not a one-size-fits-all strategy. I don't know if there will ever be a set of tools that take a set of applications and put them over in another area."

Google's Chris Vander Mey, senior product manager for Google Apps, says Google has tools such as App Engine "that are highly scalable and highly flexible and give a lot of the function of writing baseline Lotus script, and you can get it today."

Vander Mey says many Notes applications are used as document repositories and that Google has tools that are similar to creating those types of applications.

He said many of the Notes application functions could be rewritten as Web-based applications and supported on the Google platform.

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