Office 365 New Features for 2016In July 1995, IBM acquired Lotus Notes for $3.5 billion. It was a huge deal at the time, and the buyout sum, even 20 years later, is a significant amount of money. In the decade preceding the acquisition, Lotus Notes evolved and coalesced into a product package known as “groupware” — the early ancestor of today’s integrated, collaborative solutions. Post-acquisition, IBM’s Lotus Notes went on to become the de facto standard communication solution for large-scale enterprises.

Lotus Notes (now called “IBM Notes”) includes a variety of communication and collaboration features, such as e-mail, calendars, instant messaging, discussion forums, blogs, and a user directory. By far the most popular usage of Notes was as an e-mail solution.

20 Years Later: Where are we now?

When Lotus Notes was acquired by IBM in 1995, the concept of the “World Wide Web” was only 2 years old, most network users relied on dial-up access via telephone, and computer enthusiasts used a 56k modem to connect to a budding Internet. These were the days of CompuServe, Prodigy, and AOL. Obviously, Notes was constrained to the technology of the day, so its messaging solution took the form of a proprietary e-mail client.

Now that over 20 years has gone by, where are we in terms of the maturation of Notes vis-à-vis the growth of the platform leaders, Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint? This may best be answered by looking at a technology that is accessible, current, and used by organizations worldwide: the cloud.
Unlike Microsoft, whose mission now is wholly focused on being cloud and mobile-centric, the concept of the “cloud” is barely mentioned by IBM. Try having a peek at the IBM Notes webpage — there’s nary a mention of the word.

This stark difference is symbolic of the underlying technologies involved: Office 365 and SharePoint, despite the latter offering on-premises options, are both unabashedly cloud-oriented. From subscription models to new innovation, the future of Microsoft unequivocally lies in the cloud. This means that accessibility to Microsoft solutions, such as Outlook, Excel, SharePoint, and Word, are possible via mobile and browser access — options that are available to nearly everyone worldwide.

IBM Notes? Yes, mobility and browser access is definitely possible, but they do not form the core of what Notes is all about. Other IBM solutions, such as iNotes and Verse, offer browser-based accessibility, but they are relatively unknown options that are not marketed effectively. The website Campaign Monitor has been gathering and reporting on e-mail client usage for the last 6 years — while Outlook comprises over 33% of all e-mail client usage, Notes limps along at a paltry 0.07%.

It goes without saying that IBM Notes isn’t the major league player that it once was, due largely to a reliance on older client-server technology for its core services.

Migration from Notes to SharePoint or Office 365

As the technology of Notes becomes increasingly outdated and the popularity of the cloud continues to rise, the question of whether or not to migrate to Office 365 and/or SharePoint is actually minimized. The real focus shifts on how to make it happen.

Often, the reason enterprises don’t readily abandon older legacy platforms is due to a sense of entrenchment. This is particularly true for long-time Notes implementations; after all, there are some organizations that have been using Notes for over 20 years. That’s two decades worth of valuable e-mails, communications, and corporate data that is firmly entombed within Lotus Domino servers. The desire to change usually exists, but the will to make the change may not.

In these cases, half of the migration battle is already over: companies realize that they’re using outdated solutions and desperately want to catch-up with current technology. The challenge, then, becomes a technical one: how to migrate large volumes of critical data? Fortunately, there are many tools and services available that facilitate such migrations. We will cover these tools in more detail in a future blog article.

Note: Crow Canyon has a variety of SharePoint and Office 365 applications that can replace Notes functionality. We also provide Notes-to-SharePoint migration services. Contact us if considering a move off Notes to SharePoint or Office 365.

Final Thoughts

The move away from older, legacy solutions to more current platforms is a decision that every mature enterprise needs to make at some point. Some solutions, like wine, age very well and are able to adapt well to rapidly-changing IT environments. Other platforms, however, are unable to maintain their relevance in an environment where customer needs are highly malleable and change based on current technology. Office 365 and SharePoint are currently the most-implemented communication and collaboration platforms in the world today, and they hold that status for a reason. Making the change doesn’t have to be a big hurdle, provided that you realistically consider your specific needs in terms of flexibility, scalability, and security.

Crow Canyon Systems has 18 years of experience assisting organizations in leveraging their existing infrastructure, rather than requiring new hardware & technologies. We specialize in building upon your collaboration platforms, such as SharePoint and Office 365, in order to give your Help Desk and Support Staff the tools they need to provide assistance without the need for additional infrastructure.

Want to learn more about how our solutions can transform your SharePoint experience? Give us a call at 1-925-478-3110 or contact us by e-mail at