Can Domino or GroupWise still compete with Exchange?

Today's Classic Tip comes from TechRepublic's 4/11/2000 edition of the Lotus Notes TechMail, which we no longer produce. It got me to wondering - of all of the great battles in the 80's and 90's, you don't hear about Exchange vs. Lotus Notes anymore. Does it still matter?

Today's Classic Tip comes from TechRepublic's Lotus Notes Tip Techmail dated 4/11/2000 and concerns troubleshooting syntax errors with Telnet when connecting to a Lotus Notes server to test SMTP:



Today's Lotus Notes Tip


For troubleshooting purposes, you begin a Telnet session to the SMTP

TCP port on your Domino server. During a Telnet session to port 25 of a

host server, you get the following error:

"501 Syntax error. Start path name with the < delimiter."

This error indicates that syntax used during the Telnet session is

missing the less than [<] character. Here's an example of appropriate

syntax during a Telnet session. The letters S and R represent the

Sending Host and the Receiving Host, respectively.

S -----> CONNECT IPAddress 25

R -----> 220 HUB1.XYZ.COM running IBM AS/400 SMTP V04R02M00 on

Sat, 19 DEC 20:45:20


R -----> 250 HUB1.XYZ.COM


R -----> 250 OK.


R -----> 250 OK.

S -----> DATA


S -----> This is sample data.

S -----> This is more data.

S -----> .

R -----> 250 Message received.

S -----> QUIT

R -----> 221 GOODBYE.

If the less than character is missing in the MAIL FROM: line or the

RCPT TO: line, you'll receive the above error. If the greater than [>]

character is missing, you'll get this error instead:

"501 Syntax error. incomplete command."

Note that the entry of a single period on a line issued by the sending

host indicates termination of the data (header and body of the message)

to be transmitted. If the single period is not entered on a line, the

receiving host expects more data to be sent. If no additional data is

sent and there is no single period on a line to indicate the conclusion

of the message, the resulting inactivity will cause the connection

between both hosts to time out. While the [<] and [>] characters are

not needed by some systems, the single period on a line is always

required to indicate conclusion of data to be transmitted.


Among the great battles in the late 90's that we've already discussed such as OS/2 vs. Windows and Token Ring vs. Ethernet, there was also the great battle for market share in the groupware category. That battle was mostly between Microsoft Exchange and IBM's Lotus Notes, with Novell's GroupWise maintaining a close third place position. As is evident by the name of the TechMail featured in today's Classic Tip, the battle between Lotus Notes and Exchange was strong enough that Lotus Notes had its own entire special newsletter at the turn of the century, as did Microsoft Exchange.

In the years since that TechMail went out, Microsoft has revved Exchange twice, going from Exchange 2000 to Exchange 2003 and now Exchange 2007. Lotus changed the name of Lotus Notes to Lotus Domino for the backend groupware product while retaining the name Lotus Notes for the client. Novell still sells GroupWise as well, but along with the rest of the products in the company, Novell is focusing it more now to run on the Linux platform rather than NetWare. (That said, GroupWise will still run on NetWare as well as Linux and Windows.)

IBM still creates Red Book articles that talk about how to migrate from Exchange to Domino. Microsoft does the same thing in reverse. Not to be left out, Novell maintains an entire Wiki about how to migrate to GroupWise.

Of course, that begs the question as to whether this is a battle that really matters anymore. It seems like groupware is a category unlike operating systems and network topologies in that people seem reasonably entrenched in their choice. There doesn't seem to be a clear winner in the category, nor do organizations seem to be massively abandoning one platform for another.

Novell has carved out a cross-platform niche based on its successes in the 90's and early 2000's from NetWare and seems to be holding firm with it. IBM has conquered quite a bit of the Fortune 500 territory, and Exchange has most of the rest where people aren't using Web mail or open source alternatives. This may be a case of peaceful coexistence rather than a clear victory for anyone.