subject of this note is the never-ending question within collaborative
messaging, " What's better, Notes or Exchange?" Generally, this question
is answered from an emotional perspective, based entirely on the specific
administrator's and/or end users comfort level. There is no one correct
answer, both messaging servers excel in specific areas and pale in others.
The contents of this note will pit the two systems against each other
in six specific areas:
- Product Functionality: Feature functions contained within
- Product Technology: Protocols, Databases and Platforms
- Product Cost: Initial cost of training, implementation and
- Service and Support: How does the vendor treat you after
- Corporate Viability: Financial Analysis of Vendor
- Corporate Strategy: Is the vendor's future direction a match
to your Company's?
analysts began assessing the pros and cons of both messaging platforms
through the construction of a detailed information repository with over
1700 detail-level criteria, arranged hierarchically in our proprietary
software-modeling tool, TESS. Each hierarchical category within the model
is assigned a value, which represents its priority relative to other categories,
or "weight". Figure 1 shows weights for the top-level categories in the
1. Global Weights for High Level Criteria
2 represents Product Functionality versus Product Technology
functionality and product technology Lotus Notes Domino R5 takes a slight
lead. This is primarily due to the advanced and feature rich Application
Programming Interface (API). Lotus Notes offers the ability to run robust
customized or pre-packaged applications due to their database structure.
Having Lotus Notes and simply sending point-to-point e-mail - not taking
advantage of the programmatically available resources - is somewhat similar
to having a sports car that will never be driven over 55 mph. For users
looking for point-to-point e-mail, coupled with calendaring and end-user
friendly functionality without the need for an application server, Microsoft
Exchange is a preferable choice due to its ease of use and administration.
3 represents Product Cost versus Product Functionality
Notes Domino R5 has a far higher Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) than Microsoft
Exchange. A Lotus Notes seat will cost approximately $150 USD per year
as opposed to an Exchange seat cost of approximately $70 USD per year.
Administrators must remember that although Lotus Notes may cost more,
it has greater functionality and technology than that of Exchange. Lotus
has a more focused concentration on database functionality, data processing,
and personalization; whereas Exchange is more focused on end-user ease
of use, excelling in scheduling, point to point e-mail, Internet mail,
and simplified database functionality.
4 Represents Service and Support versus Corporate Strategy
Lotus and Microsoft offer highly skilled and trained employees for 24x7
support and both receive high marks for overall customer satisfaction.
Lotus is an IBM company and has been wisely left to its own devices by
'Big Blue'. Both Lotus and Microsoft have roughly the same corporate strategy
as it relates to messaging. Both companies are touting Reliability, Availability,
and Scalability as key strategies to success.
two companies are also in a race for the " Holy Grail " of Unified Messaging,
which encompasses wireless messaging, voice integration, fax integration,
video conferencing, and any other form of electronic media which can be
funneled into a user's inbox. The Image above may show Microsoft as having
a slight edge, but that's exactly what it is, slight. Exchange comes out
slightly ahead of Notes, due to its focus on end user and administration
ease of use.
companies offer good service and support and are both pursuing appropriate
messaging industry verticals to ensure long term success, which is good
news for corporate users. Both Notes and Exchange are pursuing Unified
Messaging and Wireless messaging, but they differ in database functionality
and usage. Notes has targeted its databases at applications and included
a web server to further the proliferation of MAPI (Mail Application Programming
Interface) enabled databases. Exchange, as previously mentioned, is more
focused on ease of use and feature rich functionality. While Exchange
does not include a web server, it fully integrates with Microsoft's Internet
Information Server (included with Windows NT Server).
on the above statistical analysis of the two collaborative messaging servers
in our decision model, we were able to clearly identify the pros and cons
to each system. The following table makes suggestions for a messaging
system based upon specific user needs. The answer for which system to
implement is probably best answered by asking what the systems do not
do well. Where Exchange falls down is in the flexibility of its Pub.edb
(Public Folder Database) to handle complex applications, regenerate views
and handle large quantities of structured data. Notes, on the other hand,
does not perform well in ease of use or in total cost of ownership, yet
its databases are by far the best within the messaging industry.
to Point Messaging with Calendaring and Internet Mail
Exchange - Ease of Use and Cost
Notes Domino - Highly customizable and scaleable databases
Exchange due to a wider array of 3rd Party Supported Applications
Notes Domino - Lotus has already struck deals with wireless providers
and provides support for WAPs and PDAs. Microsoft Exchange is lagging
behind at the present time