Lotus Foundations lasted almost three years

by Volker Weber


This is Mike "Workplace was only an experiment" Rhodin announcing Lotus Foundations. A hardware/software combination built around Linux and Domino, aimed squarely at the small business market. It grew up to be a good solution for branch offices in larger companies. Looks like nobody wanted it, because IBM is now discontinuing it.

I am never surprised when IBM fails to sell to SMB. Every other year I get a briefing explaining how much growth is in the SMB market, and that IBM is now going after that. Then nothing the next year or two. And then a new, enthusiastic person starts the next cycle.


While at first glance, it does appear Foundations is dead, my comment to Bob's post was that purchasing Foundations through Passport Advantage is End of Life. Not the software. However, the lack of any clarification from IBM on this particular topic or any Foundations discussions lately, is rather disconcerting.

Gregg Eldred, 2010-11-10

Foundations was not a software offering. It was a combined specialized hardware and software solution. I believe the hardware has already been EOLed.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-10

Yes, the hardware has been EOLed. "Replacement" is a simple IBM x server. If we want to add the Integrated Disk Backup (IDB), we have to build it ourselves.

The thing that annoys me most about both of the announcements is that there was no prior Business Partner Conference call or e-mail. They simply "vanished."

Gregg Eldred, 2010-11-10

I like to say, make your plans accordingly.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-10

sorry to sound rude, but
@Gregg: how much $ / EUR is at stake for your business?
@vowe: why would you like saying that?

Are frustrations that high for the two of you?

To me it makes perfect sense that IBM ceases to market these kinds of products. Look at it as consolidation; almost always good results.

Wouter Aukema, 2010-11-10

The interesting question: will the software only version live on? It was more popular in this part of the world and often ran on non-IBM hardware.

Stephan H. Wissel, 2010-11-10

A Queen song is running through my mind, "Another one bites the Dust".

IBM is as fickle with this stuff sometimes as a toddler with their toys.

Bill Dorge, 2010-11-10

You can fake viral popularity on YouTube, but not sales.

Jeff Gilfelt, 2010-11-10

The writing was long on the wall for this one. I think it’s a shame: the Foundations package seemed a pretty decent idea for small business. I don’t sell product or licenses (and am therefore a no-value business partner), but even I had clients interested in knowing more about Foundations.

I know it’s only the hardware that’s end-of-life, but that’s not really the point: the value proposition for small business was the bundle.

What I don’t understand about this is (a) why IBM bothered buying Net Integration Technologies—why not leave them to their Nitix business if all you’re going to do is bury them?—and (b) having bought the product why didn’t IBM give it a decent push?

So, after the initial hullabaloo a few years back, it would seem Big Blue have moved on from “autonomic computing” to the Next Big Thing. Bill has it right: it’s like they have the attention span of a two year old.

The wider concern for long-term IBM watchers is that enterprises may see all this, and feel disinclined to invest in the products of a company that is so fickle.

Ben Poole, 2010-11-10

If they buy a new puppy, they don't intend to kill it. They just forget to feed it.

Volker Weber, 2010-11-10

Unfortunately I can not back this up but during the aquisition I heard somewhere that Nitix was not in a position where you could just keep it running (trying so say that at that time the company was not in a good shape).
For the wider concern of long-term watchers. I think this is already happening but not for every IBM product.
If Wouter Aukema is right with his comment then I expect some more "consolidation" coming for Lotus but according to his statement this is a good thing so why care!?

Henning Heinz, 2010-11-10

I think Volker is exactly right. IBM isn't able to sell their products to SMB. I Installed two LFS some weeks ago for a small customes.
They are really happy with it, it works like a charme and I don't understand why not more small businesses are running it. Maybe because Lotus doesn't know how to sell to SMB?! ;-)

Thomas Lang, 2010-11-10

Lotuslive.... the new puppy.... ;)

Giulio Campobassi, 2010-11-10

Great picture, Volker, thank you for that!
Thomas, I think it is more a question of "want" and not of "can". If you raise the bar for potential resellers (for example, by new certifications) instead of courting for them, you will never get a footprint in the SMB market. I think the SMB market is driven by small resellers (typical hardware assemblers) that need uncomplicated products (as LFS is, whithout any doubt). Get the feet on the street.

Eckhard Eilers, 2010-11-10

Christian Tillmanns has something to say about the EOL programme for Foundations.

Ben Poole, 2010-11-10

The IDB part is phenomenal. Just add up the cost to create and implement a supported way to backup Domino and you'll see why this was a great idea.

I'm pretty sure IBM believe SMB means "Sad, Moneyless Businesses". Yet if a tree falls in the woods.....

Darren Duke, 2010-11-10

@Volker + @ Eckhard + @Darren: I work in an enterprise not an SMB, but most of the hires we get are "trade-ups" from SMBs. Notes is not even on the radar screen for these folks. So IBM is not making any money from Foundations. How about considering it a loss leader? Instead they effectively kill any SMB potential that might be out there and the competition continues to eat their lunch in that market.

John Rowland, 2010-11-10

@Wouter: My frustration comes from EOLs that were quietly released with no prior notification to the Foundations Business Partners and a noticeable decline in any news/updates from IBM on Foundations. It certainly doesn't come from the product (bundled hardware and software) or the technical support staff. Both are, IMHO, outstanding.

Gregg Eldred, 2010-11-10

Big corporations always believe that small companies are just scaled-down versions of big ones. They are not.

And large corporations also believe that their own way of working, organising and planning is rational, efficient and "normal" - an evolutionary step forward. It is not :-)

And until they realise that they have to adapt to the informal collaborative networks and not the other way round - until then they will always fail to fully address the needs of SMBs.

Moritz Schroeder, 2010-11-10

People are missing the cloud offerings for the SMB segment and SAS have a clear effect on Lotus Foundations. SMB does not want servers anymore, they want secure Internet connections to Software Services hosted in redundant datacenters where the management of the hardware is done by the vendor instead of the SMB staff. Many SMB outsource all IT operations and are trying to move their data into the cloud where it can be backed up and secured by an trained IT staff. Lotus Live is a much better fit for the SMB sector where all you need is a credit card and a list of staff members.

I am not the least bit surprised that a Lotus Appliance is not moving well in the age of smartphones and social media. The product is not suited for branch offices that have Enterprise license agreements or passport advantage agreements as they most likely have a custom deployed Notes offering that they maintain internally which would prevent them from deploying a lotus appliance.

Rich Hunter, 2010-11-10

Rich, fair points but very broad generalisations all the same. Whilst some cloud offerings are extremely well-suited to many SMBs, I would contend that for every SMB which adopts cloud / software-as-a-service solutions, there are very many more who don’t (at least, not yet).

I can’t speak for the take-up of Foundations itself—I have no data on that—but if it was low, I don’t think that’s entirely down to its “fit” in the market, more the possibility that no bugger knew about it :-)

Ben Poole, 2010-11-10

@Ben, okay, I'll ask: Are you insinuating that marketing of Lotus Foundations by IBM was . . . lacking? :-)

Gregg Eldred, 2010-11-10

I hear cloud these days everywhere and often. But I don't see that that "SMB does not want server anymore" like Rich does.
In times where the internet connection is limited to 3 Mbit down and 0,5 Mbit up like it is in some regions here in Germany, the cloud would be the worst to do. Espacially if you have to deal with tons of pictures for example, like one of my LFS customers does.

Thomas Lang, 2010-11-11

Sorry but also the SW was withdrawed with No Replacement


Software withdrawal: IBM Lotus Foundations products from Passport Advantage

Luca Perico, 2010-11-14

I am no longer with the same group but I can assure you that the same team is still there. The strategy has definitely changed. Partners, why not connect with your Account Managers?

I wish I had more insight into the new game but do look into the Smarter Business offerings.

Bilal Jaffery, 2010-11-16

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