Wednesday, February 10, 2010

LotusLive Q&A with it's Product Managers

In discussing LotusLive with sales, tech people, Business Partners and clients there are a number of questions I have still, both from a client perspective and a Business partner perspective. This is not about a specific offering, although probably mostly aimed at LotusLive Notes, but in general I am listening to opinions.

After an email to Sean P. I had a great discussion with Beverly Dewitt who used to be part of the same team as me, but she was in the US, not EMEA. Her role now is to work with the Business Partners on LotusLive. She pointed me to the BD day session which I was unable to attend due to the SRO of the small rooms and I apologized for my ignorance on some topics. She also put me in touch with John Beck, PM for LotusLive. But for those who are not privy to all the Lotuslive knowledge here are some of the questions with some answers.

From the client's view:

1) Security - Login/password is NOT enough for some customers. VPN access would alleviate this a bit, SecureID perhaps?
Answer- VPN is possible, so are many other routes, but the customer should be able to leverage their existing security. We as Business Partners are working on the best practices for these connections to Lotuslive. It can involve many parts of your organization so be aware and think about the choices. We are here to help.

2) Support - Who provides it and for what? The Business Partner? No, IBM manages the hardware, OS and Domino updates so any problems must go to them.
Answer - In short, yes, if the service goes down, call IBM. Since the life of LotusLive Notes is very basic and vanilla currently, not much can go wrong. The downside is you as a customer give up the rights to customization(until 2nd Half of 2010) of the mail template. Ideally this will work for those in a pure email usage case and heavily relying on Notes. Your Business Partner can handle administration of the service, though not via a full Domino administrator client but a custom LotusLive management console as well as management of users accounts.

3) What about our Domino applications? Even if we can put them on LotusLive, will we always have the capability to NOT upgrade the Lotuslive site because of potential update problems in code?
Answer - No Domino applications are going to LotusLive Notes...yet. You can of course host them but for now this is not an option. When customized mail templates are available, John Beck said IBM will test the template customizations for compatibility and approve them accordingly. There will most likely be some cost to perform this, a setup fee most likely but still yet to be determined.

4) Once the customer goes to Lotuslive, as a service partner, once you get locked in to someone's cloud it is really going to be hard to go to another one.
Answer - Perhaps in some cases, but LotusLive Notes, which runs on Domino, should not be difficult. However, it may involve GTS (IBM Global Technology Services) rather than your own staff or Business Partner. I have a follow up call on this subject with GTS. But I am comfortable with it for my clients.

5)What is still needed when you go to LotusLive Noets?
Answer - ID/User admin and training. SaaS solutions requires provisioning users if you utilize them. Customization of UI and other similar services will be coming in the near future and may be of interest to some companies. Archiving is NOT part of the offering of LotusLive as one example of a 3rd party connection.

6) What about other applications like BES, Traveler?
Answer - At some point in 2nd half 2010 these will be options and may or may not involve a small monthly fee.

7) Will LotusLive Labs provide an option to customers for their own "sandbox"?
Answer - No, the sandbox is NOT for customers to use. However, IBM will have BP apps up there. These will mostly be SaaS applications NOT likely to be Domino related.

LotusLive Meetings is very active in many companies and makes more sense as a pure Cloud offering perhaps compared to email. Why? Because until mail template customizations are allowed or Domino applications (stand alone ones that do not require links to other depositories) and Traveler support is included it may not work for everyone just yet.

On the plus side, IBM lowered the minimum number of users required to use the LotusLive Notes solution to 25 from 1,000 and that will go far for those small to medium businesses who really could get the most benefit.

If you are a company with 5-10,000 people you may not see the benefit as easily. However, market segmentation of your employees may show people who could benefit from LotusLive iNotes or LotusLive Notes and reduce your maintenance/licensing fees accordingly.

This is the future, no denying it, but how long till everyone gets there is the question?