Messaging and Collaboration for Small Business

IBM Lotus Domino or Microsoft Small Business Server?

We compare the 5 user messaging systems from Microsoft and IBM Lotus. All prices are in Canadian $. Follow the to read a more detailed description on the individual topic.

What is considered a Small Business?
From our perspective, it starts with one person, but for the purpose of this document, we use an organization that has 5 employees. The number of offices locations, home offices, smartphones and laptop users should not really matter. The software you choose must solve these issues and IBM Lotus Domino does exactly that. It keeps you connected in your office, when you are working from home, when you're in the Internet Cafe, on the road with your laptop and of course, anytime you have your smartphone or tablet with you.

Are you running the Microsoft
Small Business Server 2003?
This is a good host server for IBM Lotus Domino. Delay the migration to the new Small Business Server and install Domino on the same box. Get more life out of your investment and save the money for the future.
Is your Service Provider
running your email?
Are you paying more than $3 per user per month today? Do you have Calendaring and Scheduling? Do you have your email and contacts on your smartphone? Is it even an option? Time to take the next step into your future.
You don't have a system yet
and need email?
Are you starting a new business or outgrowing the free email account?
Then it's time to get your own domain name to personalize your email and website. IBM Lotus Domino is as small or as big as your business demands.

Did you answer yes to any of the questions above, or is your system approaching end-of-life?
No matter if you have no system or an old system, you currently don't have software maintenance that includes upgrades. The cost to upgrade versus a new install is about the same. For Microsoft users, it is more attractive to upgrade to IBM Lotus Domino using the built in migration tools over upgrading to the new Microsoft products. Listen to Microsoft's explanation at Why Migrations Instead of In-Place Upgrades? first. Then compare the features, price and make sure that the choice you make today can evolve with you and doesn't have to be replaced periodically.
IBM and Microsoft have somewhat different licensing models. To understand the differences and why you end up saving money with IBM should be clear after rading the Licensing document. There you find detailed prices, more examples and the sources for our calculation.

Two similar systems - way different price

Microsoft offers different Small Business Server Editions depending on the number of users. We use the Standard Edition for 5 to 75 users in our example. For higher volume or special needs, install the individual components (SMTP server, SQL server, Web server etc) or look for other Small Business bundles.
 One time cost = $ 2,905
No Support
No Software Upgrade

IBM Lotus Domino comes in one version that allows you to grow from 1 user to beyond 10,000 users. You add servers as you grow your business. Hundreds of users can run on one single Domino server. Domino runs in Virtual Machines and on all popular operating systems.
 1st year = $ 700
2nd year = $180 and after
Includes Support
and Software Upgrade

First, we look at the Microsoft Small Business Server 2011 Standard for 5 users. It is built on the Micorsoft Windows 2008 Server and includes the Exchange Server 2010 (email) and SharePoint Foundation 2010 (Collaboration).

The Small Business Server 2011 Standard comes with 5 user CAL's. To use collaboration with SharePoint, you will also need a current Microsoft Office Suite for 5 users. The software does not include support or upgrades.
When you outgrow the basic SharePoint functionality, you will need to buy licenses to use the extended SharePoint Server. The basic, free SharePoint is somewhat similar in function to the Domino Messaging licenses. SharePoint requires an active server connection. Purchasing a SharePoint Workspace user license allows you to bring the data local and work offline.
You can purchase Server Hardware from several manufacturers (HP, Dell, Fujitsu) that includes the Small Business Server and save about $150 on the Small Business Server software.

Messaging and basic Collaboration with SharePoint
5 email users with Active Sync enabled smartphone or Blackberry *2 and one server in one location
Prerequisite: All users have a networked PC with Microsoft Windows.
  • Software for Server and Client. License only, no Software Assurance, no Support
    Small Business Server 2011 Standard with 5 user CAL's (T72-02925) @ $1270
    5 Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 (T5D-00159) @ 327
    Total Software cost is $2,905. Find options and price details in Licensing.

    A more cost effective option is IBM Lotus Domino and Symphony starting at $36 per user per year. You can use your existing Office Suite and even the Outlook client if you must. IBM Lotus Domino supports hybrid solutions and phased upgrades. If you are licensed for Windows Server 2003, you don't need to upgrade yet. The current Domino Server R8.5 software as well as the Blackberry Enterprise Server R5 will run on the Windows Server 2003.

    Lotus Notes and Domino uses Replication to synchronize data. This enables you to store any data (libraries, email) on your local PC and work offline.
    There are several components that make up the product without increasing the price:
  • Domino is the server component and runs on practically all operating systems. more on Domino
  • Notes is the software on your PC, Mac or Linux that keeps you connected and informed. more on Notes
  • iNotes is the web browser interface that turns any computer into your office.
  • Traveler is your smartphone connection for Android and iPhone.
  • Sametime Entry is for chat and awareness.
  • Symphony is for your letters, spreadsheets and presentations.

    Symphony vs Microsoft Office
    Symphony is included with all version of IBM Lotus Domino and is based on OpenOffice. STDI is using OpenOffice since 2009 and we imported all Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint files, even the most recent ones. There is no license cost to use Symphony or OpenOffice.

    Case #1: Messaging and basic Collaboration
    5 email users with Android, iPhone or Windows smartphone and one server in one location.
    Prerequisite: All users have a networked PC with Microsoft Windows, Mac OS or Linux.
  • Software for Server and Client, 1st year. Includes Upgrade Protection and Support
    5 email licenses @ $70 (IBM Lotus Domino Messaging Express Trade Up, D53V8LL)
    1 Server Software: SUSE Linux Enterprise Edition @ $350
    Total Software cost for the 1st year is $700
  • Software for Server and Client, 2nd year renewal. Includes Upgrade Protection and Support
    5 email licenses @ $36 (IBM Lotus Domino Messaging Express, E01B3LL)
    Total Software cost for the 2nd and following years is $180. Find options and price details in Licensing.

    Case #2: Messaging and unrestricted Collaboration
    5 email and collaboration users with Android, iPhone, Windows and Blackberry smartphone and one server in one location
    Prerequisite: All users have a networked PC with Microsoft Windows, Mac OS or Linux
  • Software for Server and Client, 1st year. Includes Upgrade Protection and Support
    5 Collaboration licenses @ $154 (IBM Lotus Domino Collaboration Express Trade Up, D52WSLL)
    1 Server Software: Windows Server 2008 @ $795 *1
    1 BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express: free from Blackberry *2
    Total Software cost for the 1st year is $1565
  • Software for Server and Client, 2nd year renewal. Includes Upgrade Protection and Support
    5 Collaboration licenses @ $54 (IBM Lotus Domino Collaboration Express, E00ZZLL)
    Total Software cost for the 2nd and following years is $270. Find options and price details in Licensing.

    *1 Domino can run on your existing Microsoft Windows Server 2003 which can delay the cost for the Windows Server upgrade.
    *2 Windows Server 2003 or 2008 required for free Blackberry Enterprise Server from Research in Motion.

    Lotus Notes Email and Collaboration
    IBM Lotus Notes licenses are sold as Email-Only for $36 or Collaboration which also includes email for $54. See Licensing for more details and prices.
  • The Email-Only license entitles you to use all the messaging related functions including Traveler, iNotes, Sametime Entry and Symphony. This gives you access to Contacts and Journal, Calendaring and Scheduling, Room and Resource Reservation, Blogging database, Discussion and Reference database and Lotus Quickr Entry.
  • The Collaboration license has no restrictions on the applications you can use.

  • Some final thoughts
    Comparing the IBM Lotus Domino Messaging (Email-Only) license with the Windows Small Business Server seems fair, since the Small Business Server with the basic SharePoint functionality is similar to the options you get with Domino Messaging and Quickr Entry. If you are serious about collaboration, you will soon outgrow both the basic SharePoint and Quickr Entry. But no matter how you compare the software cost, even the full Domino Collaboration with Upgrade Protection and Support is still half the price of the basic Small Business Server.

    What is different between IBM and Microsoft products?
    IBM Lotus Domino has a feature release every year and can be installed as an upgrade in about one hour or less. All existing data will work unchanged when you upgrade, so no migration is required. Backwards compatibility with IBM Lotus Notes was never an issue.
    Microsoft releases major upgrades about every three years. One of the latest upgrades also changes the licensing model. Please read Microsoft's 2010 software 'most complicated lock-in decision in years' for more details. In the past, an upgrade required a migration, some of them were time consuming and required extensive technical knowledge.
    With Microsoft, your knowledge is kept somewhere in a file. Somewhere in a folder you can update this information through your Office tools. IBM Lotus Notes is people centric, it's about collaboration. Files are still an important element, but you are not limited to this model. Information is only as good as it's author(s) and IBM Lotus Notes gives you this perspective.

    About Replication and working off-line
    When you have a desktop and a laptop and a home PC, that's when the magic starts. It's called Replication and is not limited to just email alone. We're talking any document, spreasheet, presentation or file on the server. But to get the full picture, you may want to read the wikipedia entry, then scroll down to Data Replication. Replication allows you to work locally and also off-line or disconnected. Any changes that were made on the local or shared server version will replicate when the connection is reestablished. You have a similar functionality with the SharePoint server, it's called Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010 (ZUD-00594) and costs $173 per user.

    How can we help
    We do IBM Lotus Notes and Domino for more than 15 years. We are working with our customers to keep their systems running and create unique solutions that accelerate their business. Our services include technical and user support, custom applications and hosting with the guarantee that your data is stored in Canada at all times. We help small organizations with as few as 2 employees and municipalities with over 1500 employees.

    We hope you find this document helpful and appreciate your feedback here.

    Update May 2011: We just read an interesting document that compares the IBM and Microsoft solutions as well. They focus more on the larger installation and reviewing the individual products while this comparison here focuses on the small business. The document can be found at Get the Facts: Domino 8.5 vs Exchange 2010 from Martijn de Jong. This pdf file is published in the socialsoftwareblog.
    First published on February 24, 2011
    Last reviewed on September 19, 2011

  • Timestamp: 09/25/2018 11:48:50 AM EDT [on srv7cps]
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