"Looking just at the unplanned outages that catch IT staffs by surprise, these results suggest Gmail is twice as reliable as a Novell GroupWise solution, and four times more reliable than a Microsoft Exchange-based solution that companies must maintain themselves," said Glotzbach.
But Sean Poulley, VP of IBM's online collaboration services, argues there's more to meeting corporate needs than uptime. "I'm fond of telling people that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail," he said. "There's never ever only one right answer. There's only what the specific requirement is."
"I think it's less to do with whether a company can get 99.9% uptime," he said. "It often has more to do with skills." Citing a recent IBM study of some 1,200 CEOs, he said that the number one problem they reported was insufficient skills among workers. Reliability, he insisted, is less of an issue than whether companies have the skills to run mail infrastructure at high levels of availability.
More than uptime, companies are looking for security, services and integration with on-premises capabilities, he said. "Mail in the enterprise really isn't just an inbox these days," he explained.
IBM's e-mail business, he said, is doing well. In the last quarter, Lotus reported 10% year-on-year growth, he said, the sixteenth consecutive quarter of growth. "The fact is the market is expanding for mail solutions," he said.
Nonetheless, he acknowledged that some customers are looking to outsource their e-mail. And IBM is committed to serving those customers too. He pointed out that IBM recently launched a hosted version of Lotus Notes. He expects that corporate e-mail will continue to be a mix of dedicated hosted e-mail services, Webmail providers, and on-premises appliances for the foreseeable future.