IBM Notes and Domino 9.0 Social Edition

by Volker Weber

Good news leaking out of IBM. Notes is finally dropping the Lotus moniker and going straight to version 9 instead of 8.5.4. Lotus is gone. It's IBM Collaboration Solutions now, all the way.

Other goodies:

  1. Notes Traveler enhancement include support for the To Do function on iOS & Android, Windows Phone 7.5/8 support and IBMi support.
  2. No-cost entitlements to enhanced Connections 4.0 Files and Profiles modules, Mobile access
  3. Activity Streams (requires Connections license) and Embedded Experiences (does not require Connections license)
  4. Notes Browser Plug-in allows users to access their Notes application from a browser

IBM won't make it this year. Looks like a Lotusphere, errrr Connect, launch.


I can understand the removal of the Lotus branding from products like Connections, to disassociate it from Lotus Notes and remove the perception that Connections is for Lotus Notes shops (and it's not). As for removing 'Lotus' from Notes... don't think it'll make any difference. Notes remains Notes, and the tide is flowing away from it. However, interesting that it's become 9 rather than 8..5.4... it certainly looked like there was more being added than one would expect in a x.x.1 version increment. However, perceptions will play a part again. Customers' propensity to move up a point release = high. Propensity to move to a major version (which is what a jump from 8.5.3 to 9 implies) = more of a challenge.

Darren Adams, 2012-10-11 12:05

Yes, I have heard these arguments before. And I think they made the right decision.

Volker Weber, 2012-10-11 12:07

Me too, I think this is the best thing to happen to Notes and Domino for many a year... A courageous decision, and the correct one.

Stuart McIntyre, 2012-10-11 12:42

I disagree, Darren. Tides are going, tides are coming. We're seeing strong commitments to the N/D platform. Those who are going "away" are mainly taking mail away. And the combination of IBM Notes/Domino 9 (love that, really) with the rest of the ICS portfolio should make competitors afraid.

Getting rid of the "Lotus" is IMHO the right step.

René Winkelmeyer, 2012-10-11 13:40

Golf clap for IBM.

Darren Duke, 2012-10-11 13:40

René, Darren knows both sides. And he is definitely not afraid.

Volker Weber, 2012-10-11 13:47

What does it mean? No 8.5.4 and a completely new Notes or just renaming 8.5.4 to 9.

Christian Tillmanns, 2012-10-11 15:07

@vowe: I know that Darren knows both sides. And "afraid" was mentioned more generally, not personally.

@Christian: renaming kind of thing

René Winkelmeyer, 2012-10-11 15:09

Yes, yes, but will version 9 work, that’s what we really want to know…

Ben Poole, 2012-10-11 15:22

One wonders about the reason for the renaming ... hmmm

Christian Tillmanns, 2012-10-11 15:38

Good decision !
8.5 was introduced in Jan 2009. It`s about time to release a new major version.

8.5.4 would support MS gossip that Lotus Notes has no future and is in "maintenance" mode while MS is already presenting Exchange 2013 features.

Olaf Boerner, 2012-10-11 15:43

Christian, "Social Edition" is a quite a big change that would call for a major release number. This is not a maintenance release. Darren has explained why you would disguise it as a point release.

Volker Weber, 2012-10-11 16:50

How big the change to "Social Edition" actually is remains to be seen. Lets see what happens the first time you run your custom apps. Will it still seem like a big difference? Has IBM re-hired a bunch of QA people, so we can be assured of a relatively low bug count on release day? Will it address the major issues people have with the 8.x code stream -- specifically, the size, the speed, the stability, and and the inconsistent behavior?

Andrew Pollack, 2012-10-11 19:07

You should know the answers to all these questions.

Volker Weber, 2012-10-11 19:34

The new features that will be introduced with the next version of N/D (TAFKA 8.5.4) do not justify a 9.0 in my point of view.
Who cares for branding ... if IBM likes, they may call it CC:Mail 2013 :-)
But I agree that customers may hesitate to upgrade their current N/D 8.5 infrastructure due to the 9.0 version step.

Christian Henseler, 2012-10-11 20:06

I do think that the Embedded Experience, the Activity Stream and the Notes Plug-in are very significant. You may know that there were initial plans for two releases, one with and one without the enhancements. A maintenance release and a new product. Too complicated. Then "Social Edition" was supposed to be an add-on to a single release.

I like the new move. It's bold, and it confirms the commitment to full releases, instead of sneaking in maintenance releases to the 8.5 codestream.

As far as branding is concerned, Lotus smelled of "old". I am happy they are now dropping it quickly. It won't change much, but it does get rid of the baggage.

Volker Weber, 2012-10-11 20:25

Volker, If I knew the answers to those questions that knowledge would be under NDA (and I only know the answers to some of them). I asked them, because I think they are important questions to be asked loudly and frequently.

Christian (et. al.) I don't think the name change or the version number will impact core Notes/Domino add/drop/hold decisions much at all. It may help them with Connections. To impact the core N/D market much, IBM would have to radically alter their entire marketing and advertising stance and that just doesn't seem likely.

Andrew Pollack, 2012-10-11 20:27

How exactly should it help to ask questions which may not be answered?

Volker Weber, 2012-10-11 20:30

Vowe, I think you're smarter than that so I'm going to assume your response is more than a little disingenuous. If IBM's customers are publicly calling into question things they believe need fixing, it adds some pressure to actually address those concerns. By itself, surely not enough pressure. Combined with other things -- it can't hurt.

Andrew Pollack, 2012-10-11 20:38

Oh, now I feel the pressure building up. So powerful. Wow.

Volker Weber, 2012-10-11 20:41

A turd is still a turd, no matter what you call it.

Colin Williams, 2012-10-11 23:44

@Colin ,I normally browse vs contributing but ..

thank you for your detailed analysis of the product functionality.. I think the discussion was on branding and marketing , I have to admit that I was interested in the discussion, both parties engaged in an articulate debate. Such a vulgar dismissal of a product that has a lot of devotees and dedicated development team, is not engaging. If you have an opinion express it in a rational manner.

Eileen Fitzgerald, 2012-10-12 00:48

Second Eileen's comments.

In that vein...It would be nice if the Notes client was simplified/slimmed somewhat. With all the UX stuff that IBM does, they must have an idea which popular features are buried behind way too many clicks, which icons people can never find, and what things Notes just doesn't do well. Perhaps a major release (and slight delay) will give them the opportunity to make some UI changes and tick off the top 10-20 Ideajam suggestions.

Alternatively, if these would be too much of an investment for the main Notes client (or the changes would be too costly in terms of support or customer resistance) perhaps version 9 will allow them the opportunity to change strategy in some other way - for example, to expand traveler support to desktop apps, perhaps...I know many who would love to have Traveler for Mac Mail, etc

Echoing some of the others, a new major release gives IBM the opportunity to pause, reorient, and clearly define their direction going forward. I hope they use the opportunity...and "IBM Notes/Domino" sounds quite promising.

Sam Sawatzky, 2012-10-12 01:23

Colin, that's a cheap shot. Whatever may be happening in the market, Notes is a great product. I may have joined Microsoft, but I hold some affection for Notes and during the past year I have corrected people who scoff at Notes as old and clunky and something that people can't wait to move off. Their opinions are out of date and ill-informed. It has some great features - some which aren't in Outlook (and I wish were in Outlook). Yeah, Outlook has some features which aren't in Notes. That's not the point. Domino is a fantastic server platform too. It's extremely worthy competition.

I guess I'm not party to the strategy any more, but it seems strange that the upcoming version was a point release... now it's a major release. From what I'd seen of the new Notes client it seemed there was too much new for it to be a point release. There's no rules for what constitutes a major release - just ask Mozilla. What version of Firefox are they up to now? The Notes / Domino release cycle traditionally alternated between focus on the client and server... I guess it's the client this time.

Interesting times ahead, seeing how it will be interpreted by the Notes customers.

Darren Adams, 2012-10-12 01:42

Ok, fair enough. How about lipstick on a pig? No wait, that was 8/8.5 "Standard" wasn't it.

A name change feels late and desperate and will have little to no effect on how people perceive the product...especially if they're looking to move off it. I too hold great affection for it (especially Domino) and we continue to use it to do amazing things. But the reality is this customer won't be fooled by a name change. Notes is Notes is Notes and it still runs on that unholy Eclipse thing they bolted onto it in version 8. So go it must.

I'm not sorry nor sad. Quite the opposite. New shiny things will take its place. And play I must.

PS, I'm still amazes me that people still hold out hope that IBM will fix the the things that are broken. I've wished those same things for 10+ years with an almost fundamentalist devotion. To a software product I _at work_ no less! Then I woke up. Wake up.

Colin Williams, 2012-10-12 03:08

Nicely stated, Darren... I had to clarify a similar point to someone in our company today who was making a presentation about our migration project. The statement was that Notes/Domino was an unsupported platform. I said "just to be clear, it's an unsupported platform *in our company*. As a software offering from IBM, it is very much a supported platform that is being upgraded and enhanced on an on-going basis."

Thomas Duff, 2012-10-12 03:43

@Colin: being constructive wasn't so hard, now was it? ;-)
Although I'm not that negative, I recognize several of those thoughts. Personally, I won't be "playing with the new shiny things", since developing is what I do best and that is not a good fit with the current company strategy around collaboration.

Jan Van Puyvelde, 2012-10-12 10:02

With "features that will be introduced in the next version of Notes/Domino" I've meant native Notes/Domino features.
Activity streams, Embedded Experience and a lot of the Social Edition stuff depends from a IBM Connections backend infrastructure and cannot be used if no Connections is available.

With this in mind, they may have renamed Notes/Domino 9.0 back to Workplace 2.0, because we see with N/D 9.0 exactly the same strategy used to promote Workplace 2.0 back in the past:
"Hey we now have Social Mail in Connections", but that offers only a fraction of functionality of the existing products.
Deja vu...
I don't want to be misunderstood. Connections 4.0 is a great product and the integration of N/D with Connections makes sense, but in regards to many of the new features, N/D is reduced to another client/frontend/consumer for Connections.
I know there there are great new features in the next version of N/D, I am really very very happy about the new Single Login/Single Sign on mechanisms, but again, these native N/D features do not justify a 9.0 in my point of view and I think the 9.0 step is dangerous...

Christian Henseler, 2012-10-12 12:17

The Embedded Experience does not depend on Connections, IIRC. Discuss.

Volker Weber, 2012-10-12 12:26

In my point of view, with the current product/marketing strategy, IBM is not trying to improve Notes/Domino as the product we know from the past, but to find a vector/injection mechanism for IBM Connections.
The future is Connections, not Notes/Domino.
Did you attend last years Lotuspheres OGS?
2h slot, perhabs 5-10 Minutes Notes/Domino, the rest Connections, Connections, Connections.
Why has Lotusphere been rebranded to IBM Connect?

Do you need more signs to forecast the future of Notes/Domino?

And again, I don't want to be misunderstood.
I am not complaining about Connections at all, it is a great product.
I am not complaining about IBM that it is the wrong way.
I only think that in fact, IBM is more focussed on other products than Notes/Domino (at the moment), which again is not meant as a negative statement against IBM.

Christian Henseler, 2012-10-12 12:42

A point of agreement with Christian, observing as an outsider, it's pretty clear that Connections is now the flagship product for ICS. But providing integration between Notes and Connections can only be a good thing for IBM's collaboration strategy. I remain an admirer of Activities in the Notes sidebar.

Darren Adams, 2012-10-12 12:56

It's never too late to make a change. Apple dragged themselves out of oblivion years ago. Perhaps Notes/Domino can make a come back? Unlikely though.

Thomas Leriche, 2012-10-12 17:17

I am sorry but 8.5.4 is now gone is not good news for some.

I amongst what I suspect is a growing number of users are probably a bit concerned about further delay.

It was originally announced that support in 8.5.4 would be in train in Q1/12

We are a year down the road with no release and now it isn't even likely to appear until a later version !

So what is the new timeline now and is this realistic?

Alec Spyrou, 2012-10-17 00:28

Alec, there is no official timeline. I would bet on 1q13. And don't worry about the number. 9 is just a different number from 8.5.4, but it refers to the same thing.

Btw, that press release makes no mention of 8.5.4.

Volker Weber, 2012-10-17 01:04

N9SE Sees exiting. The social capabilities is great. More information on the extended experience is needed. What we see at customers evaluating CRM and ERP software is that they are tailored to MS Active Directory and/or Exchange. Suppliers of those products get all fuzzy and stressed out. 'We do not integrate well with Lotus, you want your products you must migrere to Exchange'. Arrogant, yes but still a reality. Is embedded experience the solution? Bring external application in to Notes 9 SE instead of letting Notes mail integrate well with external applications. Microsoft owns the catalog service (Microsoft AD) that is defacto standard. This will always be a challenge for the Notes client.

One other note, with this release we se N9SE becoming Connections enabled Notes Mail. With Connections Mail 1.0 we see IBM Connections becoming mail enabled. What path should customers choose? When will IBM Connections and the N9SE merge into one?

Christian Herĝ, 2012-11-15 08:56

Working at Lotus Corporation and now IBM specializing in IBM Collaboration Solutions (IBM (Lotus) Notes/Domino, IBM (Lotus) Sametime, IBM (Lotus) Quickr, IBM Connections, etc, I have seen IBM rename its collaboration software products from Lotus to IBM over the years. Notes/Domino is the last in a long line of collaboration software offerings from IBM to have Lotus removed from its name.

IBM is developing integrated collaborative software functionality into IBM applications like FileNet and industry focused software offerings. I applaud this integration because it strengthens the value of collaboration by placing the functionality where a user needs it to a specific job. I may sound like an IBM commercial but speaking as an end user, I am tired of jumping out of Lotus Notes to view things like CRM, HR applications, and other applications which don't reside in a Domino datase. I would rather have my inbox where I can see it at all times while I am working in other applications.

Over 400,000 employees at IBM use IBM (Lotus) Notes and Domino and IBM Connections. You are probably saying "so what"? This isn't a surprise! What this large install base provides me is a view into the pitfalls of using email to do all collaboration. Don't get me wrong, the inbox will probably never go away in the business world. However, the trend in our evolving social world is to share information on the web vs. sharing it in a private inbox. I've been in the Lotus space since Notes 2.0 at IBM and Lotus when it was a separate company. So I have been a specialist on enterprise email for quite a while. With that said, I would rather be able to find information on the intranet/extranet than wait for someone to send me the information stored in their inbox.

For those of us who aren't plugged into social networks as a way of collaborating, we are soon going to be out numbered by those who are. These people expect social tools to be at their fingertips while at work.
IBM's strategy with email is more about staying current, catching a wave before it crashes into the shoreline, and plain survival in a social world.

Hazel Oetjen, 2012-11-25 18:16 thanks to everybody who contributed to this blog, even the t**d lover!! While I have a long way to go, the context of N/D 9.0 Social Edition and the importance of embedded experience and activity is much clearer to me now. I can't begin to enumerate the number of instances I have programmed links to CRM, ERP and other systems using ReplicAction or LEI to migrate data into Domino databases for integration into Notes apps. And even though some of the connections were "real time", it was on demand, e.g., when the Notes user needed the current A/R balance for a customer, sales call status, etc., etc. No true real time display of activities, status or data changes, etc.

I guess this means I now need to set up an IBM Connections environment along with our 8.5.4 managed beta, soon to become the 9.0 public beta, in our shop and do some hands on evaluation.

Thanks again

Bill Palmer

William Palmer, 2012-12-11 03:54

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