[In case y'all thought I was stuck in a competitive groove....]

Paul Robichaux, who writes a column for Exchange&Outlook update and blogs at Exchange Security, wrote about his experience attempting to buy IBM Workplace in order to evaluate it.  He documents three problems with his experience.  With the benefit of a couple of days since his blog entry appeared, I'll attempt to answer some of his points.  Note that, as Paul does, both Network World Compendium and vowe.net have picked up his blog entry.  I was working on this well before, but that vacation thing got in the way of being super-responsive.  Ah well.

First, I would assert that Paul's approach isn't the only route from point A to point B.  If he is a consultant who wants to evaluate IBM software, one typical route for that is joining PartnerWorld, which in and of itself is free.  The various value packages available would allow Paul to download Workplace, or most other IBM software, specifically for the purpose he intends.  I don't mind seeing the Passport Advantage challenges he encountered documented publicly, but there was another way to do this.

Second, IBM's approach to those who want to evaluate Workplace is to not make customers download and install it at all.  The IBM Virtual Innovation Centers can get involved in an evaluation scenario and help with proof-of-concepts.  Further, on IBM DemoNet, you'll find a fully-functioning Lotus Workplace live showcase.  While an access code is required to sign up, the instructions on how to obtain it are available right on the "sign up" page.  I'm going to see if I can make this easier in some way.  I've also discussed the need for evaluation downloads with the manager of the Workplace products group.  We do indeed provide evaluation versions of Notes/Domino platform products, so it's just in this emerging Workplace line that the infrastructure for evaluation downloads isn't in place yet.  

Third, the price Paul was initially quoted was only inaccurate for what he wanted to buy.  There is a promotion in effect through 31 December 2004 called "Access your Workplace Mail"; during this time, the per-user license for Workplace Messaging is indeed US$14.50 -- sold as a bundle with the Domino Web Access CAL, which is also US$14.50.  So, US$29 for a license to both messaging back-ends.  He was also correctly quoted US$24 for the Workplace rich client technology user license.  However, Paul appears to have wanted to buy a license for all Workplace services -- thus, a different price.  This just sounds like a mis-understanding of what Paul wanted to buy.  Here, I agree with Paul -- IBM nees to make it more straightforward to buy all the Workplace capabilities.

There are definitely some lessons learned from Paul's blog entry, and I've ensured that it got some visibility inside IBM.
(Updated 12/24 - Anil Vartak gave me some updated links for IBM PartnerWorld)

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