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Salesforce.com marches on IBM's Notes business

Follows Microsoft into battle

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After more than a decade of seeing its massive Lotus Notes business threatened by Microsoft, IBM faces a new threat: Salesforce.com.

Salesforce.com is planning tools that will convert applications and data in Notes to run on its hosted platform. The on-demand provider is also working actively with Google and reaping the benefits of efforts by Microsoft to have customers replace Notes with Exchange for their email.

It's the latest assault on the mighty Notes customer base, estimated at some 140 million licenses.

Microsoft initiated a war of attrition against Notes with the launch of Exchange in 1996. Among the weapons used: tools that migrated email data and applications to Exchange. Notes is, of course, the great brain child of Microsoft's current chief software architect Ray Ozzie.

Adam Gross, Salesforce.com's vice president of platform marketing, told The Register on Monday that Salesforce.com is working on a set of Notes-specific conversion tools. These would migrate Notes applications' data and schema to run on Salesforce.com's hosted Force.com service.

Gross did not provide further details, but it seems likely Salesforce.com is targeting Notes applications such as e-forms. Once converted, data and information could be sucked into the Force.com platform and used in on-demand applications from Salesforce.com and partners whose applications run on Force.com.

Salesforce.com chairman Marc Benioff, meanwhile, told The Register Notes is losing favor with CIOs after years of IBM pitching itself as a provider of e-services and not meeting expectations. According to Benioff, CIOs are turning to the combo of Google on email and collaboration with Gmail, Calendar and Google Docs, and Salesforce.com for applications.

Salesforce.com is also benefiting from organizations that abandon IBM's Lotus email for Microsoft Exchange. Such migrations are leaving the Lotus applications hanging, with IT teams reluctant to continue their support and development. Gross said Notes is the application Salesforce.com is replacing most.

Salesforce.com has, itself, moved to Google Docs internally along with Gmail for its 3,000 employees. The company had been using Microsoft.®

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