Campaign to OpenSource Domino

by Volker Weber

Over recent years we have seen the decreasing traction of the Domino product line among enterprise customers, lower conquest rates in small enterprises and a lack of penetration in the SMB market. This decline in position of the product has continued despite clear IBM commitment to the ongoing development, marketing and support of the product line.

Two comments:

  1. The usual suspects will debate the issue.
  2. Open sourcing Domino is not going to happen. Nor would it help.

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2. Open sourcing Domino is not going to happen. Nor would it help.

Agree. When I saw this on Bill's blog I had to check the date. Thought I must have slept through the winter and woken on April 1st.

Chris Linfoot, 2008-12-22

I think Ian has missunderstood both Open Source and the Domino market.

Andy Porter, 2008-12-22

Agreed - open source is not realistic.

However, IBM could offer better options for small businesses, in particular startups. I'd love to see a scalable license for trying new web startup ventures -- let us develop a product for free, with a contract to pay licensing if the business succeeds.

But with current costs to run Domino, it is too big of a risk for emerging businesses without funding. You cannot commit that many dollars to IBM products when you are small and unstable.

IBM would have little to lose - maybe some admin costs associated with granting such licensing, but it could increase their long-term revenue if some startups succeeded under such a model.

And I would, of course, be quite willing to be one of the first to sign up for this. :)

David Armstrong, 2008-12-22

And the usual suspects agree with you Volker.

Bruce Elgort, 2008-12-22

Maybe Open Source was just a headline and some things have to change was really meant (I don't know)? The usual suspects are discussing this issue but if you rely parts of your business on Domino some issues just never disappear.

Henning Heinz, 2008-12-22

Why does this remind me of OS/2?

Stefan Tilkov, 2008-12-22

Because the OS/2 community asked for the same thing.

Volker Weber, 2008-12-22

The second half of Volkers point 2. and Hennings comment cut to the heart of the debate.

I do belive that Open Sourcing Domino along the RHEL/Fedora model would be one way of changing the market positioning of the product line. Would it help? I believe so, it would take 4-5 years for the change to alter the technical face of the product. During that 4-5 years the biggest transformation would be in the marketing arena and the ownership models that would be possible for the product. The major caveat is that such a transformation needs to be properly supported and exploited, if not, it will fail.

Radical change is needed, it is needed now. Is this the right change? ....

Ian Tree, 2008-12-23

Ed posted this on the IdeaJam idea:
"I don't mean to be cold water, but it is an impossibility to consider this approach.

This is a product that has been under development since 1984...20 million lines of code, some of which pre-dated WINDOWS, would not really make for a worthy open source project even if IBM could. There's a lot of IP in there that simply can't go "open".

Further, despite the doom and gloom FUD, IBM's revenues from Domino and Notes are substantial and *growing*, and it would make for a very difficult business discussion to say "oh, yeah, we'll just make it up on support"."

I just can't see what benefit could be derived from open sourcing Domino that would make the effort worthwhile, either for IBM or the community.

If the opensource community really want to do something of benefit, I'd push them toward creating a first class and lightweight mail/calendaring/sametime client for Domino, akin to a Notesbuddy on steroids. If IBM could support that effort by disclosing the necessary technical aspects to allow secure, reliable, fully-featured access to Notes mail files and Sametime from an opensource client, then you would have something that could be offered to all the Notes haters out there as a viable alternative.

Stuart McIntyre, 2008-12-23

creating a first class and lightweight mail/calendaring/sametime client for Domino
T-Bird plus Lightning plus Pidgin. Seeing Notes as a mail client is just half the truth, though.

secure, reliable, fully-featured access to Notes mail files
PHP has Notes-support. Maybe IBM could support the PHP Dev Team. But why should IBM do it?

After all i can't see the benefit in opensourcing Notes/Domino. Exchange isn't opensourced either. So why should Notes/Domino be opensourced? Notes/Domino is a secure, reliable, fully-featured client. Ok, with some flaws here and there. But after all it does work. Period. And: Notes is not just another mail client. The one qho sees Notes as a mail client, didn't get the trick.

Ralf Stellmacher, 2008-12-23

Red Hats whole business (and that also includes the complete JBoss J2EE stack) is probably still smaller than the IBM Lotus division, both by revenues and by profit. Of course there are benefits like having a more public development roadmap (currently there is just a R9 is coming in 2010 statement) and that it would be easier for customers getting involved but all that would also be possible with a closed source project too.
It will be interesting what will happen around Couch Db. It is an IBM sponsored project anyway.
@Ralf What you describe as some flaws here and there is a nightmare to others. You would normally think that companies that moved away from Notes are dreaming of the good old times every day. Unfortunately my experience is that those hardly ever look back. Not because Notes is so bad but because other technology has just grown up. I do really like Lotus Notes but also do not close my eyes about how hard it is to sell the concept of Notes in 2008, especially to new customers.

Henning Heinz, 2008-12-23

@Ralf: Maybe those didn't get the trick. But they've bought lots of licences, are the easiest ones to migrate away to something else and have no use for that big fat Notes client.

Oliver Regelmann, 2008-12-23

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