In the posts I published today ( Office 365 | LotusLive ), I set out to register for both LotusLive and Office 365 for a small group of 5 users to pilot the features of these competitive products. Initial reactions were:
- Simple and intuitive interface.
- Straight forward set of features, Document Sharing, Email, Calendar, Instant Messaging, and Online Meetings.
- Comprehensive set of features.
- Excellent list of native and third-party tools available for the trial.
The immediate contrasts that I recognized were:
- Office 365 only gives you the basic services, while LotusLive immediately makes a LARGE number of applications available to you during the demo. LotusLive gives you Activities, Forms, and Charts which seem extremely useful in a business deployment.
- LotusLive only allows you to use their sub-domain while Office 365 gives you the ability to make a custom sub-domain to personalize your experience in a unique way.
- LotusLive has a more prominent link to their help to get you started.
- Office 365 appears to make ActiveSync available to trial members, while it seems mobile email access would be achieved through IMAP or POP3 for LotusLive’s trial.
- Branding of the LotusLive interface is well documented in the product help.
- Office 365 immediately presents you with links to help configure your native PC applications (Outlook, Office, etc.) to work with their service. LotusLive has documentation on configuring local applications to interact with their service, but it requires more steps and user intervention.
- LotusLive has content tagging built intuitively into their offering. Office 365 does not have as comprehensive of a content tagging system.
- As one would expect, the social aspect of LotusLive (Connections) is much more prominent, while Office 365 is very centered around document based collaboration and simplicity of access to common office computing facilities like email and calendaring.
In all, it is obvious to me that these are competitive products. The experience similarities of the common features like email, calendaring, etc. is what you would expect of rival products from IBM and Microsoft. The largest difference to me is that IBM’s solution gives organizations more tools or applications. Integrating with third party CRM solutions, document signing/validation, and so many other apps gives an organization a full spectrum solution in which to run their business. Office is really focused on bringing Office content to users everywhere and anywhere a browser or smart phone can reach.
The documentation, videos, guides, wikis available and easily accessible for LotusLive are as comprehensive as their offering, but you could argue that it needs to be. Without some guidance, I can see how someone looking for just the office basics could be lost. LotusLive does give an administrator the ability to shut off or unsubscribe from applications they do not intend to use which will certainly clean things up for the users, but out-of-the-box… everything is turned on. Office 365 feels lacking to me in the documentation department, but arguably, its simplicity and smaller set of features enables users to more easily just stumble through the service with little need for hand-holding.
I like both offerings. Office 365 does make it a bit easier to get a whole group up and running as it provides an interface for importing a list of users in a few simple steps as I discovered, and LotusLive does not allow for multi-user registration without seeking the intervention of an IBM representative.
When evaluating these two products, it seems to be a good idea to seek some references. Ask for opinions of others who have already adopted each solution and see what features they like/use the most. What do they not like. These opinions, when filtered through what your organization finds to be important, canl make for an easier time navigating these two different approaches to cloud delivered enterprise tools.
Other considerations I see include:
- Migration Process
- Costs (which I understand to be comparable)
- Accessibility for Users
- Existing IT Assets to Integrate with
I personally like both offerings, each for their own strengths. I hope this insight helps.