IBM/Lotus last week hit back at Microsoft's boast that it plans to steal five million Notes customers this year, by detailing a new 300,000-seat licensing deal with an Asian company and strong interest in Notes from emerging markets.
Last week, Microsoft's COO Kevin Turner told financial analysts that his goal is to have the company's messaging and collaboration software displace five million Notes seats this year. Turner also said Microsoft has replaced eight million seats of Notes in the past two years.
It was another shot in a messaging and collaboration war that has been going on between the two for nearly 20 years. In the late 1990s, the two jousted using email seat-count numbers that were often inflated if not outright dubious.
"It is very difficult to tell what Microsoft is talking about when they talk about numbers of seats or costs because they shove so much into their environment, but I do know we have been engaging against them and winning," says Bob Picciano, general manager of Lotus Software.
IBM/Lotus seems to be doing a better job of integrating current messaging and collaboration tools with next-generation tools like social networking.
In June at the Enterprise 2.0 conference, the two squared off on stage around social software (Lotus Connections vs. SharePoint) with IBM/Lotus showing its Connections tools as "the clear winner across the board," according to Mike Gotta, an analyst with the Burton Group who moderated the session. Gotta in his blog later chastised Microsoft, saying it "did a poor job of showing and explaining why business and/or technical decision-makers should consider SharePoint as a credible solution to meet the social computing needs of an organisation."
A month later Microsoft's Turner ripped into IBM/Lotus, which is now on the offensive and detailing what it calls strong fiscal second-quarter sales of Notes/Domino 8. The platform, which shipped a year ago, features a modular client architecture that can be customised as the front-end for component-based applications.
The company says an Asian firm, which executives said would be named at a later date, will licence 300,000 seats of Notes, as well as Lotus Symphony, IBM's open source suite of productivity applications.
IBM/Lotus says the deal is its largest ever in Asia.
IBM also listed a number of foreign companies that chose Notes over Microsoft, including Max New York Life, Reliance Industries, Vedanta, and Aviva in India; GD Development Bank, Johnson Electric, HKG Environ Protect, CED, DL Cosco Shipyard in China; Affin Bank and Trakando in Singapore; and Russian Railways in Russia.
It did not provide seat numbers.
IBM/Lotus also reported that in the fiscal second quarter it recorded its largest client win in North America: 150,000 seats in a "big six" accounting firm.
Like the Asian deal, IBM would not name the company, but IBM executives said Lotus Notes, Sametime, Connections, IBM Lotus Quickr and WebSphere Portal were picked over the Microsoft collaboration portfolio that included Exchange and SharePoint.
The battle is heating up as Microsoft's SharePoint is garnering the lion's share of coverage despite a number of issues corporate users face when considering the platform.
IBM/Lotus has been feeling the heat from SharePoint.
In May, the company released IBM Lotus Quickr Content Integrator, which provides wizards and templates for moving content in mass to Quickr from SharePoint sites. Lotus is betting the tool will help keep users on its content management platform and away from Microsoft, which could use SharePoint as the hook to get users to switch to its entire portfolio of messaging and collaboration tools.
As part of its most recent announcement IBM/Lotus noted other companies that have recently picked Lotus Notes and other Lotus software over other competitors, including Colgate-Palmolive, Ineos of Belgium, the US Federal Aviation Administration, NutraFlo, Dutch Railways, Rohm Haas, Imerys and the Salvation Army.
New Lotus Notes 8 customers were listed as CFE Compagnie d'Enterprises of France, Virginia Commonwealth University, Winsol International, the US General Services Administration, the US Internal Revenue Service, Standard Insurance, New York Life, Kentucky Baptist Convention, Verizon, Publishers Printing, Hyatt Hotels, Union Pacific and Nationwide Insurance.