Tom Duff wrote about Domino as an application platform, and in some of the comments there was a discussion about making the Domino server free as a web platform, at least for smaller companies. Go and read the comments.
Here are some excerpts:
[W]hy pay for a Domino server for only applications when you can do stuff in open source platforms like Plone, Alfresco, Joomla, Drupal, CMS2, etc. that are completely free?
The only way that the slide would stop is for IBM to recognize what it has and market Domino heavily as a Web server.
In addition, they need to price the server accordingly compare to the open source solutions out there.
I actually have a solution already built on Domino and will be offering the same solution as SaaS. Sadly the Domino licensing model does not support our business model.
So although I want to use Domino, Domino can do the job, does it well, the pricing rules it out. It is cheaper for me to have the application rewritten on a different platform than to buy the Domino licenses.
The last comment, by Carl Tyler, is actually a response to me (comment #26). I was recently approached about developing a web application (online product catalog, simple shopping cart, then a CRM system to handle the processing of orders between several separate geographic locations) which I could put together in Domino in a fairly short time.
A very good friend was thinking about using MySQL, Joomla and Magento to build the application, but that is a lot of downloads and installs. Why not use Domino, especially when I can build the application in very short time? Well, mainly because the customer would not pay thousands of dollars for the Domino server license. Domino Collaboration Express can not be used for web applications by unauthenticated users, if I understand the licensing correctly. So no public web server allowed.
I would have to get Domino Utility Server Express, which requires PVU licensing. Even with a single core, single non-Intel processor we are talking over $1000, and quite a bit more if going to say a dual core single CPU Windows server. According to "Sonny" at IBM (see chat to the right), that option would use 100 PVUs at $205/PVU, for a total cost of $20,500.00! That’s insane!
So could IBM not provide Domino as a free web application platform? At least some restricted version, or as someone called it "community version". Let’s say unlimited anonymous access and 100 (250?) authenticated web users, but no mail, just applications. Any Notes users or mail users still need a Lotus Notes Collaboration Express client license.
Promote Domino as the great web application platform it is, a RAD platform with strong security, built in database and much more. This would have the effect that more people would start using it. Isn’t that why Domino Designer was released for free, to promote Notes/Domino development and spread it to new developers? The next logical step is to provide a server. Now we have developers who learn the platform and see what you can do with it. They will push that to their clients or the companies where they work. This will get Domino in the door, even without email. The next step is obviously that the company realize what can be done if they get the Notes client and start using email. They buy a few Notes Collaboration Express licenses and start testing, and soon they might get Notes for everyone.
Nobody will buy a product they never heard about, or one they heard about but never seen. By getting Domino out there, making the product visible, more companies and corporations would learn about it. In the long run, I think that would lead to more sales to small and medium sized businesses.
Ed Brill also comment on Duffbert’s blog. He asks "Where does IBM make money on it? Our own services? If that became our strategy, we’d be blowing up the partner community that has made the product so successful". Well, IBM is giving Symphony away for free. Sure, it is a repackaged OpenOffice, but there is still an investment in development from IBM. And if you go to the Symphony page, you find this: "Lotus Symphony Quickstart services offering now available". Hmm, does this not sound like IBM making money on their own services:
Have you been looking for help to get a pilot up and running using Lotus Symphony in your organization?
We now have a fee based services offering from our IBM Lotus Lab Services organization that can help you do just that.
The IBM Lotus Symphony 3 QuickStart solution gives you everything you need to evaluate the ROI and feasibility of deploying Symphony in your organization. We provide hands on Symphony training, video training with the Symphony Multimedia Library, best practices for user segmentation, analysis of Lotus Symphony features and benefits, and proven deployment strategies.
I think a free Domino Web Application Server would be a great way to increase the interest for Domino, and show what it can do. I will in the next day or two have a guest blogger write about her impressions of Lotus Notes and Domino. She is totally floored at what Domino can do and how easy many things are. But all that count for nothing if the server is so expensive that nobody outside big corporations can afford to develop web applications for the platform.