The yellow boxing gloves are back!

Two new press releases have been published by IBM this morning, taking the fight to Microsoft.

The first focuses on the success of Lotus Foundations against Microsoft’s Small Business Server:

200+ Microsoft Partners Per Month Flocking to Sell IBM Lotus Foundations Appliance

Y. — June 4, 2009 — Facing waning demand for Microsoft products, more than 1,000 Microsoft Business Partners have already signed up to sell IBM Lotus Foundations ( “office-in-a-box” appliance for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) in the first five months of 2009.  

According to Microsoft Business Partners, sales of Microsoft’s Small Business Server (SBS) software bundle have stagnated due to lack of innovation and partner dissatisfaction with their inability to add solutions and services.  Microsoft partners are looking for an alternative that provides
SMBs  with more collaboration computing power for less money and more reliability in these challenging economic times.    

“Lotus Foundations is a complete, cost-effective solution that easily scales as a business grows.  When you add users, you know exactly what it will cost and the functionality you’ll get,” said Bernie Leung of Mesa Technology.   “With Microsoft SBS, you always have to worry about what additional licenses you will have to purchase – the SQL client is just one example.”

IBM Lotus Foundations provides all the hardware and software needed for a business to get up and running and grow exponentially without incurring any upgrade costs.   The IBM product enables businesses to move to a single platform for all their IT needs, a stark contrast to Microsoft SBS, where additional software from Microsoft, as well as hardware and software from third parties must be purchased.  

“And with Lotus Symphony, we don’t have to pay for Microsoft Office.  Most importantly, Lotus Foundations is simple to use and easy maintain.  It eliminates the expense of having a full-time IT expert on staff,” said Jose Lopez Gonzalez, CEO, Lopez y Cortina, an insurance provider in Monterrey, Mexico.

Business partners too are looking for more effective methods to drive their business and support their customer base, and many have found that Lotus Foundations is the answer.
 The following are comments made by a sample of IBM clients and partners who have signed up for Lotus Foundations in the past five months.

“Lotus Foundations is like a giant aspirin for the IT headaches that plague business owners every day.” — Greg Gould of GDomino.

“The Lotus Foundations server is a wonderful device – the ease of install and configuration makes getting right to work a quick job
. For the money, we could not have come close to finding this functionality anywhere else – enterprise quality in a small business box.” — Robert Thresher, owner, Thresher Enterprise Systems.

The second reviews a series of recent customer wins for the Lotus collaboration portfolio:

Companies Choosing Lotus Collaboration to Work Smarter and Lower Costs

Economy, Web 2.0 Gap Fuel Rising Tide Against Microsoft

ARMONK, N.Y. — June 4, 2009 — IBM
(NYSE: IBM) today announced major enterprise client wins for Lotus collaboration software over Microsoft as businesses seek cost efficiencies in today’s economic climate.  Recent wins include The Coca Cola Company, HSBC, ABB, BASF, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Fidelity Investments, Hyundai, Liberty Mutual, Linde Group, Mass Mutual,  Nationwide,  State Bank of India, The Hartford, and Zurich Financial among others.  

Driven by guidance from Microsoft to abandon evaluation of these currently-shipping products, Microsoft customers are choosing IBM Lotus software, driven by the higher return on investment and easier deployment of Lotus software.

At the recent Microsoft Tech Ed conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft executives advised customers to stop testing Vista and move to testing Windows 7.     The same advice was repeated for Microsoft customers who have not yet moved to Exchange 2007; they were told to skip it and wait for 2010. The advice is a marked change from Microsoft’s conventional strategy to always upgrade now and then again with the impending release of the new version of a product.

In this environment of reduced IT budgets, lowered headcounts, geographically distributed teams and mergers and acquisitions, there are several reasons customers are choosing IBM Lotus Notes over Microsoft Exchange, one of which is cost,” said Bob Picciano, general manager of IBM Lotus Software.    “Businesses don’t have money to waste on high licensing and maintenance fees, nor the patience to deal with ill-conceived, unreliable software.”

The economic downturn is causing companies to  consider how to spend their strained information technology (IT) budgets more carefully.  As a result, an increasing number of customers are looking at  IBM
Lotus solutions over Microsoft reduce IT spending, and help their employes work more effectively with fewer resources.  Since the release of IBM Lotus Notes 8 in August 2007, IBM has seen the fastest adoption for any release in the history of Notes and IBM Lotus Domino, more than double that of previous releases.    

This rapid market acceptance o
f Notes and Domino 8 is driven, in part, by the ‘green’ nature of the products.  IBM Lotus Domino 8 has been proven to lower the cost of ownership for enterprises  by as much as 30 percent as a result of new ‘smart’ capabilities that allow companies to reduce the number of severs needed;, drive down the hardware required to support mail files and attachments; and minimize administrative overhead.  

Since people want a variety of ways to collaborate with one another, IBM continues to expand Lotus Notes and Domino capabilities well beyond email by tightly integrating instant messaging and presence awareness, enterprise grade social networking tools, and access to team rooms and repositories into the Notes user interface.    In fact, 30 percent of new IBM
Lotus Sametime unified communications customers are Microsoft Outlook and Exchange messaging users.  In addition, with over four million downloads of Lotus Symphony, IBM’s free office productivity toolset, customers are looking to try alternatives for Microsoft Office based on open standards and lower costs.

“While Microsoft is telling customers they need to wait seven years for major enhancements to Exchange and Windows, IBM Lotus continues to deliver new releases with richer capabilities on time,” said Picciano.   “Clients are embracing IBM’s holistic view of collaboration as a means of working smarter and more efficiently with powerful Web 2.0 and social software tools.  The net effect is our clients’ employees are collaborating at a much deeper, more profound level, gaining insight and productivity while lowering their IT spending.”

Wow, the boxing gloves are truly back on.  Whilst IBM’s competition in the collaboration space is far broader that just the folks in Redmond (Google, Socialtext, Jive and many more), it is great to see the Lotus marketing team upping the ante when Microsoft appears to be struggling.  

It will be fascinating to see how the media picks up on these releases.  Look out for plenty of coverage in the next couple of days.

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