Microsoft SharePoint

CMS Watch on SharePoint, and on Lotus Notes, and on Various Reactions to the Same

I like what CMS Watch stands for: independent advice for people making decisions about technology. Last year, Anthony Byrne of CMS Watch asked if I would review and comment on their SharePoint Report. You can read my complete review comments, from which CMS Watch extracted their quotation for The SharePoint Report home page. My basic comment was:

Microsoft tells you it’s wonderful, competitors tell you it’s awful, and there’s not a lot in between. CMSWatch’s latest report, the 190-page “2008 SharePoint Report”, does an excellent job of covering the “in-between”. The authors have done an outstanding job in documenting what SharePoint is (the six elements of the MOSS pie), in thinking about how and where it can be used effectively, and in giving prescriptive guidance to organizations that are considering SharePoint — both to embrace the good, and to avoid the bad. Every organization that is looking at SharePoint should purchase this report; it’s merely good governance to do so.

So … the purpose / ethos / intention of the report is to give impartial advice for firms considering what the SharePoint product / platform / beast actually is.

And Then There is Notes
Last week, Adriian Bloem, an Analyst at CMS Watch, wrote a blog post on the difference between SharePoint and Lotus Notes. I’ve never heard of Adriian before today, and have thus never spoken to him, but he has attempted to pull something off that even I haven’t dared to attempt … a comparison between these two products. Sure, I’ve started at various times … sure, I’ve tested the waters for interest … yes, I have a great domain name lined up for the said report when I write it … but I haven’t done it yet.

Anyway, he lists 5 differences, and here’s my response:
– difference 1, agreed, although once you add other products from IBM — Connections and Quickr — it becomes just as competitive on the IBM side. You can read my May 2009 blog post on this.
– difference 2, agreed.
– difference 3, agreed, but that’s not the fault of Notes. That’s a poor governance decision about application creation and maintenance. Firms doing SharePoint will face the same problems, if they take the same approach. You can read my January 2006 blog post on this.
– difference 4, mmm, not sure on this one. If you have a Microsoft-centric developer, then obviously Visual Studio will be easier to work with compared to being a Microsoft-centric developer and trying to get your head around Lotus Notes.
– difference 5, agreed, but that’s the point. Notes isn’t a relational database, wasn’t designed to be so, and please IBM, don’t make it so.

However, the piece that got a number of people angry was his opening comment, that it’s a “fact that IBM is slowly phasing out Domino in favor of newer platforms.” It’s a fact that that’s not a fact, so Adriian has his facts wrong … but that’s his perception … and that’s a perception that IBM tried actively to create a few years ago. Anthony Byrne published a retraction of that statement a couple of days on December 6, three days and 27 comments after the initial blog post.

So, to two people who commented on their blogs about the original blog post, I say:
Carl, good work on pointing it out and suggesting an updated briefing for Adriian.
Graham, one line in one blog post comparing Notes and SharePoint does not negate the value of the separate and differently-directly SharePoint Report. To propose “ … how the heck can their Sharepoint report be of any value when they obviously know so little about the main competitor to Sharepoint?” is illogical. But … it was nice to speak with you today; I wish we could have done it in person when I was in Sydney last week. And thanks, too, for sharing your perception of what I do. I need to work on that 🙂

Just for fun, if you want some more reading, head over and see my July 2007 blog post, on How to Make the Most of Lotus Notes/Domino.

During our conversation, Graham asked me (see comment 2 on his blog post) a question:

I asked Michael whether he felt sufficiently experienced with the technical capabilities of Notes R8.5 to be able to compare it to Sharepoint and his response drew a clear line between the value of the Sharepoint report (which he endorsed) and the later comments made by the authors of the report. My impression was that he doesn’t want to be drawn any further into the conversation.

I hesitated to give an answer, because while I have Notes 8.5 installed on two computers in my office, I have not dived into the 8.5 version in all its glory. But, I will point you in the following direction: my slide deck from the NSW KM Forum breakfast last week in Sydney, and slides 29 to 35. They are on decision factors for collaboration tools, a topic which I will more fully explore in Collaboration Roadmap (it’s a book, it’s coming, I’m still working on it, talk to me about it in 2010). Basically, yes I know that 8.5 is “different from 5.0” and “has some really nice features” … BUT an analysis of the technical features will only take you so far.

Enough for one day. Sleep well …

0 replies »

  1. Hi Michael,
    Let me respond to your statement
    To propose ” … how the heck can their Sharepoint report be of any value when they obviously know so little about the main competitor to Sharepoint?” is illogical.
    That depends on what the ‘Sharepoint Report’ is offering to its purchasers. The CMSWatch website states that “The SharePoint Report will help your team decide whether and where and when to apply SharePoint to your information management problems.”
    So I will clarify my question by rephrasing it as “how the heck can their Sharepoint report be of any value in determining the key question of whether to deploy Sharepoint at all when they obviously know so little about the main competitor to Sharepoint?”
    My point was that perhaps the best answer to any ‘information management problems’ is to deploy Notes instead. Until you have resolved that issue it is premature to explore ‘where and when’ to deploy Sharepoint.
    The only excuse I can see would be if the Sharepoint Report authors did not claim to be vendor neutral and were limiting their research to the questions of How and When (rather than Whether) to deploy Sharepoint. Unfortunately CMSWatch DO claim to be vendor neutral and IMHO that means that their discussion of WHETHER to deploy Sharepoint must include a rational analysis of why it is better than the competitive products. Given their demonstrated lack of knowledge about the current version of Notes I don’t see how they can claim to competently address that question.
    For the record, I do not pretend to be vendor-neutral and, if asked, I tell prospective Notes customers that they should get any pro-Sharepoint point of view from a Microsoft Business Partner.

  2. Thanks for sharing your view and expectations Graham. My take is that CMS Watch was not intending its SharePoint report to cover the competitive offerings and analysis aspects as well, and I’m personally and professionally fine with the scope they set. I think the report does a great job for what it aims to do. You clearly want more …

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