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Comparative Analysis of Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes

written by: Om Thoke•edited by: Eric Stallsworth•updated: 11/3/2009

In the past, IBM’s Lotus Notes had the monopoly as messaging system. But as Microsoft started to dominate the market, Microsoft Exchange, MS Outlook and Windows Live Mail became the favorite amongst the users. This comparative analysis of Microsoft Exchange vs Lotus Notes will show which is better.

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    Overview

    Even today Notes users are quite passionate about this product, though a good chunk of users have turned towards Microsoft Exchange in recent years. It is not wrong to say that Microsoft Exchange is superior to Lotus Notes in terms of user-friendliness and UI design, but Lotus Notes excels in terms of functionalities.

    Basically, both of them come with their own set of pros and cons. To continue the mini war of Microsoft Exchange vs Lotus Notes, let us consider all the key aspects of these two email and messaging systems.

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    Supported Platforms

    If we considering the supported platforms, Lotus Notes offers extensive support to IBM i5/OS, Windows 2003, IBM z/OS, Linux (on Intel), IBM AIX, Linux (System Z), and even Sun Solaris. Microsoft Exchange 2007 however, supports just the 64-bit Windows platform.

    Note: Support for Windows 2003 64-bit version has been discontinued at this point.

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    Virtualization Support

    It is quite astonishing that MS is still not supporting virtualization in MS Exchange 2007, while IBM is offering complete hardware & software virtualization support.

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    Security and Clustering

    Security has been one of the major concerns in MS products, and despite the fact that Microsoft has tried its best to improve upon the security features and enhance the spam protection in Exchange 2007, there are many known security holes in the application.

    On the other hand, Lotus Notes users enjoy advance security features like server and user-level SPAM control, local encryption, granular access control, digital signatures, and much more.

    Moreover, IBM Lotus Domino 8 clustering is done at the application level, making it much more flexible in comparison to Microsoft Exchange 2007 cluster, which happens to be an OS-level cluster (making it totally dependant on Windows clustering capabilities).

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    Free Goodies

    Well you don’t expect any free goodies from Microsoft, do you? But, IBM sure does offer a lot of complementary products such as IBM WebSphere Portal, Sametime instant messaging, Websphere Application Server, Tivoli Directory Integrator, and many more as a part of IBM Lotus Domino package.

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    Pricing

    When you consider the initial licensing costs for only messaging system, the Lotus Notes turns out to be a bit costlier than the MS Exchange, but when you consider the total cost of ownership, you’ll realise than Lotus Notes is definitely far cheaper than MS Exchange, not to mention the complimentary products that you receive.

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    Upgrades, Migration and Maintenance Issues

    Microsoft is smart enough to withdraw support for earlier versions and don’t support version 5.5 anymore, but IBM has always offered comprehensive support for migration, upgrades, and integration as well as support for earlier versions, and they continue to do so.

    Furthermore, the IBM Lotus Domino 8 not just offers a messaging solution, but rather a comprehensive combination of e-mail, Integrated IM & presences awareness, contacts, forums, development tools, calendaring, and team spaces.

    You get just the bare basic messaging solution with MS Exchange 2007, and you have to pay for anything extra that you may require – after all it is Microsoft, so you can’t expect any freebies from them.

    Lastly, the maintenance is rather tedious and time consuming with MS Exchange 2007, while you can just install IBM Lotus Domino 8, and forget about it.

    Today, it is just the user-interface and easy of usage that forces many of the customers to go with MS Exchange 2007, otherwise Lotus Domino 8 is far superior to MS Exchange in most aspects including pricing.