Lotus stings users with bundled support

Lotus users have just two weeks to renew their current licence agreements if they are to avoid massive price increases on 1...

Lotus users have just two weeks to renew their current licence agreements if they are to avoid massive price increases on 1 September.

CW360 has learned that the new IBM/Lotus Passport Advantage programme could increase software costs by between 25% and 35% as a result of the software giant tagging-on premium maintenance with a number of its key software families.

The Passport Advantage programme is designed to offer subscription-based licensing across the Lotus groupware family, DB/2 database, WebSphere application server and Tivoli enterprise management suite - but IBM has added the cost of premium round-the-clock maintenance on to the licence.

Simon Moores, chairman of the Lotus Forum User Association, said, "It [the new licence agreement] will cost users an awful lot of money." Moores is urging his members to renew their current Lotus software licences before 1 September to avoid the price increase.

The move to bundled maintenance will chiefly affect the Lotus suite because it has previously been sold as a standalone package which did not require heavy-duty implementation consultancy.

On the Passport Advantage Web site, IBM states that the programme provides users with "access to IBM voice technical support 24x7 for critical (Severity 1) problems and outages by authorised callers".

Along with concerns over pricing, the Lotus Forum is also worried that from midnight on 31 August, current Lotus licence serial numbers will expire as IBM introduces the new licensing programme. "IBM did not give users much notice," said Moores.

The strategy adopted by IBM is similar to Microsoft's heavily criticised Windows and Office XP licensing policy in that it is being introduced rapidly. One member of the Forum told CW360 that "we only got notification [of the updated programme] on 27 July".

Lotus currently ships software without support. Users then buy additional per incident phone support. The lowest tier is the £2,166 10-incident pack, covering IT support during the normal working week. The new Passport Advantage programme includes premium 24x7 maintenance as standard.

Support for enterprise products such as Lotus Notes and Domino has traditionally come from third-party consultancies. Grant Pearson at the Lotus consulting practice, Peapod, said, "Business partners have tended to offer support direct to users. I am not sure what Lotus is trying to do here."

Tony Lock, a senior analyst at Bloor Research, urged users to talk to third-party suppliers about how their existing support contracts will stand following the 1 September changes.

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