Microsoft has released a tool designed to entice millions of Lotus Notes/Domino customers to migrate their applications to Exchange and other Microsoft infrastructure servers.
The announcement is the opening salvo in what will be a three-week stretch of tit-for-tat volleys between the two vendors. Lotus next week plans to launch Domino 6, its collaboration server, as well as Sametime 3.0 and QuickPlace 3.0, its presence and online meeting software, respectively. The following week Microsoft will open its annual Exchange user conference, where it plans to lay out its roadmap for the future.
The two vendors have been locked in an ongoing battle in the corporate collaboration market for years.
On Monday, Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Application Analyzer for Lotus Notes, which consists of two separate components for analysing Notes applications and planning migration and co-existence strategies.
Microsoft is offering for free the Data Collector component, which breaks down users' Notes applications by such parameters as size and usage. The companion tool, the Data Processor, is available to Microsoft's Certified Partners. It examines information gathered by the Data Collector and provides an evaluation as to the business value of Notes applications.
The tools, however, don't aid in the migration or co-existence of any code. For that, Microsoft is recommending Casahl's ecKnowledge 7.5 for connecting Lotus Notes/Domino applications and migrating data to the Microsoft platform. The Casahl tool replaces Microsoft Application Connector for Lotus Notes.
"We're not talking about moving these applications just to Exchange," said Earnie Glazener, Microsoft product manager for Exchange. "We're talking about moving them to the Microsoft platform, most notably SQL Server or maybe into SharePoint Portal Server or developing the logic with Visual Studio.Net. We are not trying to shoehorn data into Exchange."
Microsoft hopes Lotus Notes/Domino users will consider Exchange and .Net as an alternative to IBM's ultimate goal of moving the Lotus faithful from Notes/Domino to Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) and WebSphere Application Server.
IBM is positioning Domino as an engine to provide collaboration components on top of WebSphere, such as messaging, calendars and to-do lists.
Microsoft said it had been using the Application Analyzer tools internally for the past five years. The company acquired the technology in its acquisition of The Mesa Group in 1998. Microsoft has upgraded the tools to support Domino R5 and added a graphical user interface.
Fifty certified partners are already offering services to help customers use these new tools.