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Big Red Flag — IBM’s Ed Brill suggests you not read Gartner research on Notes/Domino email

by Tom Austin  |  August 8, 2010  |  8 Comments


IBM’s Director, End-User Messaging and Collaboration (Ed Brill) has implicitly recommended that people not read Gartner’s research discussing clients who are asking about moving away from IBM Lotus Notes/Domino email. Why? Well, because he’s summarized the note in his blog post and determined it’s inconsequential.

I discussed Ed’s post in an earlier blog posting of my own, but realize that many readers might want some evidence of elements of our research note that Ed conveniently left out. Here’s one, emphasized in bold:

From 1 July 2009 to 30 April 2010, 116 different clients booked one or more calls with Gartner analysts seeking advice on migrating away from Notes for e-mail. … By comparison, during the same 10-month period, no Microsoft e-mail customers called us for advice on whether to migrate to Notes/Domino for e-mail, although a few considered moving or have moved to other providers, notably Google.

This market disparity is a significant factor  Reread what IBM’s Brill conveniently left out. (There’s more in the research note.)

Our research is based on substantive data and very serious discussions with professionals with serious issues and concerns, not cocktail party chatter.

By the way, we’re an equal opportunity analyst firm — we call ’em like we see ’em. In this segment, for example, we go deep on all the key competitors. We take Microsoft to task over BPOS-related issues in “Make or Break Time for Microsoft Cloud E-Mail” and I personally laid into Google in this blog less than a week ago. (Behind that blog post is detailed analysis of the Google business model and what it means.) We haven’t seen either Google or Microsoft posting suggestions that people not “bother” reading Gartner research because they don’t like what we’ve written.

If you’re a Gartner client, call us with your important issues.

If you’re not a Gartner client, our Gartner sales offices can help you out. Seriously. Call them…

And if you see any vendor suggesting you need not bother reading any of our research, treat that as a big red flag!


Tom Austin
VP & Gartner Fellow
20 years at Gartner
41 years IT industry

Tom Austin, VP, has been a Gartner Fellow since 1997. He drives Gartner's research content incubator (the Maverick Program) and is leading a new research community creating research on the emerging era of smart machines. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Big Red Flag — IBM’s Ed Brill suggests you not read Gartner research on Notes/Domino email

  1. “…Ed Brill has recommended that people not read Gartner’s research discussing clients…”

    Tom, nice to see you provided a link to Ed’s blog this time, but I’m very confused. You say that Ed recommended that people not read your research. But I can’t find that statement in his post. I don’t see anything along the lines of “don’t read the report.”

    In fact, Ed provided instructions (and attempted a link which he later was able to fix) on how to get to the report and even listed the price. That seems like the exact opposite of telling people not to read it.

    Honestly, I’m baffled at how a person with your stature and experience as a social software analyst could make such a basic reading comprehension error. The recommendation you claim is there simply… isn’t.

  2. While I agree with your basic point that vendors are likely to spin conclusions, you made that point already, and more coherently, in your previous post. This post definitely casts doubt on your credibility and objectivity in a way the other didn’t.

    Of course, Ed Brill will put the best possible spin on a report. That is hardly news, it is his job, yet here you come off as defensive and childish in response. “How dare he question me?” you seem to say. Do you really think your conclusions are completely beyond questioning? Doesn’t that seem as presumptuous as you claim Mr. Brill is being?

    Fundamentally, Nathan T. Freeman (above) makes the point best. Far from correcting any invalid assertions, this post tries to promulgate an invalid assumption by saying that Mr. Brill suggested something he clearly did not. You can do better than that.

  3. Brett Hershberger says:

    Wow Tom, just… wow. My “truthiness” meter just got pegged in the negative.

    I double checked the article as well and in no way does Ed say that anyone should not read your report (not even a hint or a suggestion). Really quite disappointed that someone from Gartner would post something so incorrect and so easily checked for accuracy.

    Sensationalizing for blog hits is dirty pool. This post makes me question the validity in other statements from the report as well,

    Now there’s a Big Red Flag on any other Gartner reports I see.

  4. Tony Palmer says:

    Out of the 116 clients, how many have actually made the decision or have actually migrated to MS.

    What you are saying is that you had 116 client who looked for advise to migrate, NOT the number who ACTUALLY made the decision to migrate or undertook a migration.

    You then say clients that ARE requesting information to migrate from MS (to the clound) and then mention that for these clients they HAVE made the decision or completed the move.

    Seems like seeking advise != migrations.

  5. Tim Paque says:

    At the very least Tom, your people have bought into the nonsense that Lotus Notes is just for email. It is “Groupware” a fully integrated database, rapid application development, website design, messaging, and yes,… also email system.

    I agree if you use it for nothing but email, you would be better off with a web email service. (however nobody is better off with outlook and exchange)

    But really if they use it ONLY for email, they are wasting a powerful tool, and should encourage their IT staff to dabble in Lotus Notes Development.

  6. Ken Kavan says:

    Wow! these researchers actually believe they have done their homework and are giving advice to be used as a decision base for companies to spend massive sums of money to migrate from Notes/Domino to……email?

    Hard to believe these people even think they are comparing apples to apples! Moving from Notes/Domino to Outlook/Exchange is like trading a Swiss Army Knife for a Plastic Spoon!

    It’s an often quoted FACT that Notes/Domino is so much more than just email, and it’s a very costly mistake for a business to not recognise this fact, and even worse for an adviser on such matters not to point this often overlooked fact out to clients.

    In the unforseen aftermath of many of these immensely wasteful migrations the ignorant parties find they then need to support BOTH platforms because they still need their Domino servers to support the applications they have run for years.

    Seen this shortsighted mistake more than a few times, as will have others out there in the trenches.

  7. Dale Cybela says:

    “. … By comparison, during the same 10-month period, no Microsoft e-mail customers called us for advice on whether to migrate to Notes/Domino for e-mail, although a few considered moving or have moved to other providers, notably Google.”

    Is this really a surprise to anyone? Do you deny that anyone has migrated away from Microsoft/Exchange to Lotus Notes? I wonder why they didn’t call you first to see if this was a good idea? Can you give a reasonable explanation as to why they didn’t call you first? Could it be your past reviews of Lotus Notes and narrow interpretation of its capabilities?

    You are gauging industry trends based upon the fact that no one called you for your advice on a topic that they can pretty much guess what your general answer would be; before they make the call? This is a proper conclusion to be made by an industry analyst – no one called me – so no one must be doing this? Hmmm….

  8. I believe much of the dispute between Ed Brill and Tom Austin has to do with ambiguities and uncertainties regarding what the motivations for what the catalyses for the Gartner clients’ enquiries are. The report is rather precise on that; the driver for consulting has little or nothing to do with the specific product(-s). Rather concerns has to do with access to resources, vendor dedication to the product, general fit in the enterprise IT infrastructure, and “emotions”. I shall not reveal Gartner’s conclusions and recommendations. For these you should read the report (ID:G00200566).

    One other note; is it surprising that a responsible CTO of an enterprise would consult e.g. Gartner regarding email platform in a time when a prime provider releases a new version, Exchange Server 2010, alongside a horizontal information management platform (SharePoint 2010).

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