Microsoft woos Lotus users with Exchange tools

Less than a week before rival IBM Corp.’s annual conference for Lotus Notes users and developers is set to kick off, Microsoft Corp. is introducing new resources to help customers migrate from Notes to its own collaboration platform.

Microsoft on Tuesday plans to unveil several new tools designed to help business customers move from a messaging platform made up of IBM Lotus Notes client software and Lotus Domino Server to Microsoft Exchange Server and related collaboration software. The company also plans to update existing tools it offers customers for the same purpose. The following Sunday, Jan. 22, IBM’s Lotusphere 2006 conference is set to kick off in Orlando, Florida.

Microsoft’s current initiative to encourage Lotus customers to migrate to Exchange was launched in August 2005. The new tools and updates are part of this strategy, and Microsoft expects to continue adding resources in this area, said Roger Murff, group product manager, Exchange Server Marketing.

New resources introduced Tuesday include two free software tools, the Microsoft Application Analyzer 2006 for Lotus Domino and Microsoft Data Migrator 2006 for Lotus Domino, Murff said. Once available, both tools can be downloaded from this Web site.

Microsoft Application Analyzer is an analysis and reporting tool that describes existing Lotus applications and provides usage information for them, Murff said. The tool also recommends to what Microsoft collaboration environment the applications can most easily migrate. The tool will be available some time in the first quarter.

Microsoft Data Migrator takes key information from Lotus Notes templates and moves them to a Windows Sharepoint Services Web site for use with a Microsoft-based collaboration application, he said. The tool will be available in the second quarter of 2006.

Microsoft also is introducing three Windows Sharepoint Services application templates — Discussion Database, Team Room and Document Library — that have a similar look and feel to Notes templates so customers have an easier time using the new software, he said. These offerings will be available Tuesday as part of a library that already includes 30 other templates that are similar to those in Notes.

In addition to these new resources, Microsoft also has updated existing tools for helping customers migrate from Lotus to Exchange: Exchange Connector for Lotus Notes Domino, Exchange Calendar connector for Lotus Notes Domino and Migration Wizard for Lotus Notes Domino, said Megan Kidd, senior product manager, Exchange Marketing for Microsoft.

Kidd said the new tools and updates are in response to a host of recent customer migrations from Notes/Domino to Microsoft Exchange and other products in Microsoft’s collaboration platform, such as Windows Sharepoint Services and Sharepoint Portal Server. “We’re trying to make that transition easier,” she said.

Among the companies that have recently deployed Microsoft’s collaboration software, including Exchange Server, are business consulting company RSM McGladrey Inc., in Bloomington, Minnesota; BC Biomedical Laboratories Ltd., in Vancouver, British Columbia; BRFkredit in Denmark; and Endsleigh Insurance Services Ltd., in the U.K., according to Microsoft.

Microsoft and IBM, between them, own the bulk of the market for business messaging and collaboration software, according to analysts from IDC and Gartner Inc. Both companies say they routinely migrate customers from each other’s collaboration software to their own.

“IBM and Microsoft both have active and competitive migration efforts,” said Ken Bisconti, vice president of product management for Lotus Software at IBM. “We’ve had well over 1,800 customers who have purchased competitive migration packages to move off of Microsoft and other competitive software onto IBM’s Lotus platform.”