Lotus Foundations: “A Real Choice for Small Businesses and Partners”

Great coverage of the Lotus Foundations proposition from Laurie McCabe of Hurwitz & Associates on the IT Analysis site:

Foundations offers file storage, advanced backup and recovery, connectivity and security, collaboration and email and application services in one integrated package. Some of the things that set it apart include:

    * Automated installation and configuration; it discovers and maps the network for you, and auto-configures firewall and VPN, so you can deploy it in 30 minutes or less.
    * Automatic data backups, and full system recovery if a disaster should occur.
    * Symphony office productivity tools are bundled with it, so you don’t need to buy Microsoft Office software.
    * Under the covers, you get the reliability and cost benefits of Linux and open source technologies (Foundations is priced less than Microsoft SBS servers), but you don’t have to know a thing about Linux or these technologies to run it.
    * It has the collaboration power of Lotus Notes and Domino, tailored for small businesses, with Notes clients for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

As important, IBM has factored in what’s often the biggest hurdle to getting momentum for new product: inertia. Outlook users can continue to use Outlook with Domino Access for Microsoft Outlook. And, IBM added VMware virtualization to Foundations, so you can also run Windows applications on it. Customers don’t have to give up things they already use—Outlook and Windows apps, such as Intuit QuickBooks. And, I almost forgot—you can also get a 30-day free trial, and it’s black and yellow, like a bumble bee.

The small business technology market and the channel partners that serve them are at a turning point. Many businesses are tired of dealing with the cost and complexity of Microsoft products and licensing, and channel partners are deciding that they need another option for serving customers that don’t want to deal with these hassles. This time, IBM is in the right place, at the right time, with the right solution, to give them a true alternative.

I’m certainly beginning to see a lot of interest from Microsoft customers looking for a valid alternative to increasing costs and difficult to manage solutions.  The tide is turning, and Foundations is doing a great job for SMEs…

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!