Lotus Connections vs Sharepoint, what’s your take?

This post is not fully technical and I’m afraid I might be just adding noise to the net, but I couldn’t keep quiet, as a developer I should give *my* developer’s point of view.

When SP first saw the light I must confess it wasn’t my pick for CMS, it needed a sql server box and SQL Server needed an expensive license. I turned to free easier to put together PHP based CMS/portal systems like mambo, phpnuke et-cetera.

Time changed my point of view. I used Sharepoint mainly as a collaborative tool and intranet on two companies I worked for, and used it only as an end user. The ability to manage content, add documents to a project, keep the knowledge base associated to source control made me change my mind a little bit about this tool.

Knowing now more about web parts and seeing the proliferation of code camps, documentation, codeplex projects and how easy it is to implement workflows in Sharepoint now make me doubt about Lotus Connections quite a bit.

1. I’ve used Lotus Notes for email client and find it to be extremely unintuitive. Most people would say we use an old version, but I liked Outlook XP better!!!
2. I’ve used Outlook for email client for a while and although I have tried Thunderbird and other email clients, I keep going back to Outlook.
3. When I lose network connection my Lotus Notes becomes irresponsive to the point of having to shut it off, even if it’s a small network hiccup. It has never happened with Outlook.
4. Domino was a pretty big dinosaur back in 2000 when I first started programming intranets. I would say it still is.
5. Sharepoint is now free if you pair it with sql server express.
6. Most decision makers I know say that relying on open source projects to enhance or tailor a tool is a mistake. I would say exactly the opposite, but it also depends on what open source project you choose. Look at NHibernate and Hibernate? NUnit, JUnit, log4net, Apache (I hope Mono were a serious take)
8. They would also argue that customizing a tool further can imply high costs when a new license is purchase and sometimes it is impossible to obtain a new license due to the great deal of costumization. I would say that applies more to IBM like products, imho.
7. Some decision makers bet on Lotus Notes mainly because migrating away from Notes would be too costly. I would say migrate ASAP, that ship is sinking.

As a developer, I’m not a decision maker, I do make decisions but within my scope, most of them are based on experience, some of them are based on gut feeling. My guts say, hrm, Lotus Notes still sounds like a dinosaur to me…I hope I never have to program on top of it :-p

10 thoughts on “Lotus Connections vs Sharepoint, what’s your take?”

  1. Why post an article about ‘Connections vs Sharepoint’ and then go on about Notes? Connections does not require Notes and is not based on Notes. The Connections server is not based on Domino.

    Following the Enterprise 2.0 event in Boston last year, IBM Lotus were the clear winner…


  2. Hi Darren,
    Thanks for the article it was very informative.
    I should have posted this under rants and not fooling around.

    While both vendors showed their products could integrate with existing e-mail systems (especially e-mail systems that they sell, such as Notes and Exchange), IBM’s Lotus Connections looked, at minimum, a year or more ahead of SharePoint in its social computing capabilities out of the box.

    On social networking, Sharepoint might be in disadvantage, but for how long? How long have Lotus Notes and Domino being around and to what extent have they improved?
    Is Connections a good CMS? how many third party vendors and open source projects are on it now? How easy is to extent Connections?

    I don’t have all the answers, but I would like to hear more about facts. Thanks!

  3. Hmm.. Isn’t this decided yet.. in terms of social networking Lotus Connections is simply the best..

    You prefer Outlook over Notes ? Doesn’t matter… Lotus Connections integrates out of the box (i.e. for free) to both!!!

    Sharepoint is merely an empty platform were you have to develop applications on top of it for it to be useful… Or you have to partner with 3,4,or 5 different business partners to add all of the social networking features that come out of the box in Connections.

    Lotus Connections can also be easily used ***from*** Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Windows Explorer etc. Sharepoint can’t do that (that I know).

    Most people that I’ve talked to agree that Sharepoint Blogs and Sharepoint Wikis simply, well, let’s just say that they aren’t well designed.. 🙂

    Sharepoint 14 is around the corner, let’s see what it brings.. However, the decision between Connections and Sharepoint does NOT depend on which email client you like…!!

  4. My other comment is that I think you have some perceptions based on an older version of Notes. You say “How long have Lotus Notes and Domino being around and to what extent have they improved?”.

    The answer is 20 years, but in the past 18 months there have been enormous leaps forward. Notes 8 is a huge improvement over previous versions in terms of look and feel and usability. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you take a look before you say another word about Notes.

    You call Domino a dinosaur yet that dinosaur is vastly more scalable, resilient and secure than Exchange. It often requires half, maybe less, the number of servers to run an infrastructure compared to Exchange. It’s cost of ownership is less than Exchange, and Domino’s cost of ownership has been steadily decreasing with each release. Version 8.5 is estimated to be 30% cheaper to own that version 7, and the scalability is improved again. Tell me what Exchange has provided in the past few releases to reduce the cost of ownership… the general opinion is that it’s increased because of Microsoft’s inability to provide a platform that easily upgrades (unlike Domino – you can skip versions, upgrade 6 to 8).

    Personally I would say Outlook is the dinosaur – it’s just an e-mail client, and the next version will still just be an e-mail client. It never moves on. Look at how Notes has evolved into a collaboration platform that can integrate with instant messaging, telephony, collaborative file sharing, social networking, Google Gadgets, and a whole lot more.

    Domino 8.5 provides support for XPages which completely revolutionises web development, again a huge leap ahead which you’re not recognising.

    Finally on the sinking ship comment – since the release of Notes 8 (late 2007) Lotus have added 12,000 new companies (over 5 million users) to the user base (figures announced at Lotusphere 2009). The market share is agreed by most analysts to be roughly 40% / 50% in Microsoft’s favour, but nowhere near the market domination people perceive Microsoft to have.

  5. I sincerely appreciate the comments and the facts you provided. My post was based on Lotus Notes experience vs Outlook and SharePoint experience.
    I don’t have experience with Lotus Connections. Luckily, one of the clients will roll out Connections soon and I will be able to look, touch and snoop around, and who knows if extend.
    As to my perception of Domino being a dinosaur, time will tell. I’m not sure where it came from I encouraged the use of Exchange.
    May the best team win!
    Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Comparing Outlook to Notes is completely without base. Notes/Domino is a secure. distributed, standards-friendly application development platform with one app that happens to be email and a lot of other stuff.. Outlook is email with a bad API.

  7. This is an old post and I see some people are still reading it so here we go…

    1.- This is the link to the Designer – which allows you to create Web Apps, Client Apps, and pretty much anything. I couldn't find the Outlook Designer.. oh wait.. there isn't a designer.


    2.- Why call this blog entry Lotus Connections vs Sharepoint and then talk about Notes vs Outlook ?

    Been using Notes for 12+ years now and yes.. Notes 3, 4, 5, 6 didn't have the best look and feel, but 8.5 is a different animal so posts like yours helped IBM to understand they had to change the interface and they did it.

    Back to Outlook vs Notes – have you ever seen an Exchange Upgrade (server only)that takes less than 20 minutes to complete. I have seen that in Domino all the time.

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