IBM Project Vulcan - an inflection point

by Volker Weber

vulcanbrowser.png

I have been struggling to write this for a while, but I think Vulcan could be a major inflection point, where Lotus can leave behind the past and build for the future. Lets look at the challenges Lotus is facing and how Vulcan can solve them.

There have been two such inflection points in the first decade:

  1. In 2002 Al Zollar went on the stage at Lotusphere declaring the future of Lotus is J2EE. If you look at the current portfolio and how services on top of Websphere are evolving, Al was right. He just was unable to communicate how to get there, probably because there was no plan yet. Domino is still not there, and with Vulcan it does not have to.
  2. In 2005 Ambuj Goyal announced Hannover, a major redesign of the Notes client. This was very well received and gave IBM almost three years to fix Notes. Unfortunately IBM did not fix the classic client, but built a new one on top of a huge Java framework, that does not work well with desktop virtualization, a major trend that got started between 2005 and the time Notes 8 was done.

So what are the challenges today? You are probably going to disagree on most of them, but that's the world I see out there.

  1. Migrations to Exchange. I don't know why people would want to spend a lot of money to go from one proprietary closed environment to another, but they do. Money is often not an issue. I often hear "we don't want to be the last to leave Notes". The only way to fight this is to put out all the fires, and that proves to be a stretch on resources.
  2. Notes 8 (Java version) is fat. It's been put on a diet to make it work better in Citrix environments, but that does change the game. There is just a lot of files on your desktop. vowe will never run a Marathon, no matter what you do.
  3. Notes 8 (classic version) is not as fat. But it does not solve challenge #1. Notes 8 (Java version) would, but there is challenge #2, and frankly not very many people use the capabilities added through the framework. Composite applications are all but non-existant, uptake on widgets is slow and most admins are busy disabling them.
  4. Silos. Lotus has a broad portfolio and it does not integrate well. Stuff runs on different platforms in different clients. Users have to go from here to there a lot.
  5. IBM has woken up very very late on mobile stuff. They are now struggling to get back on the train. The good news is that they know they are behind and that they need to get this act together.

But something wonderful happened: you can finally write powerful web applications that users like to use. Look at Facebook, as a Notes customer look at the latest version of iNotes. And iNotes does not even use the latest technologies. Internet Explorer 6 is dying off, and with new browsers come new opportunities. Mobile gravitates around webkit. Even BlackBerry will get an update this year.

With Vulcan IBM paints a very bold vision. Keep the existing products. Add new APIs that let developers consume their capabilities. Demonstrate a web app that works just as nicely as Facebook does. Make it run on mobile, in a web browser, in Notes. Everything can run in Notes, because the least Notes can do is embed a browser.

In this new environment you can integrate everything. Notes Mail, Calendar (and that is the hardest part of all), Quickr, Connections, Sametime, everything Lotus has to offer. The user does not have to go from here to there. And all you need is a browser. You will continue to need a Notes client for your legacy apps. But that does not include the most used ones: mail, calendar, contacts.

If Lotus can pull this off, it's going to be the difference between running and flying. A new dimension.

Comments

The funny thing is years ago Lotus had a Notes client running in a browser (even local/offline). I think that was in time of Lotus Notes 4.6.

Tobias Mueller, 2010-02-15

I think of Project Vulcan as Connections 4.0, built on Portal technology with Portal capabilities but hiding the portal complexity from the customer. Ready to consume and contribute stuff from all other Lotus products. In Connections 3.0 first pieces of Project Vulcan are going to show up (i.e. Social Analysis). I think IBM should call Project Vulcan as soon as possible Connections 4.0 and thus give customers a clear perspective. And, by the way, of course integrate all of Java Quickr into Connections 3.0 or 3.5 the latest. That is the push Connections 2.5 deserves now and that will help to fight Sharepoint buzz.

Felix Binsack, 2010-02-15

Entschuldigt bitte, wenn ich auch deutsch antworte; ich bin mir nicht ganz sicher, ob ichs auf englisch so rüberbekomme, wie ichs meine.

Das ganze Browsergedöns hat für meine Begriffe einige eklatante Nachteile:
-- da wäre zum einen die fehlende Möglichkeit, Daten lokal runterzureplizieren. Klar, man kann einwänden, dass man heutzutage eigentlich keine Daten mehr lokal halten muss, dass bei Mobilgeräten das ohnehin nur schwer bis gar nicht machbar ist. Aber (und das ist der große Knackpunkt): nicht jede Firma erlaubt den Zugriff von draußen. Das ist ein Fakt. Kann man dazu stehen, wie man will, es ist einfach so. So, und nun die spannende Frage: was habe ich von einem schlanken UI (in dem Fall zähle ich den Browser mal dazu), wenn man nur unter sehr bestimmten Bedingungen Zugriff auf die Daten hat?

-- da wäre zu anderen die Pflicht, im Browser JavaScript angeknipst zu haben. Auch dazu kann man stehen, wie man will. Ich für meinen Teil hasse das wie die Pest und knipse nach Möglichkeit JavaScript, Java und Plugins (wie Flash und Konsorten) aus. Warum? Es ist weniger der Ressourcenverbrauch. In Zeiten, in denen 4-Wege-Maschinen mit tonnenweise RAM drin zur Grundausstattung gehören, ist das alles kein Thema mehr. Bleiben noch die Issues, die diese Mechanismen zwangsläufig verursachen. Vorrangig sind es auch Sicherheitsprobleme. Und schlussendlich: es ist immer noch mein Rechner. Von einem Anbieter mir vorschreiben zu lassen, welchen Browser, welche Browserversion, welche Plugins ich zu haben habe, das funktioniert nicht. Wer seine Inhalte, Daten, etc. nicht auf eine Art und Weise präsentieren kann, dass man notfalls auch mit Lynx noch drauf zugreifen kann, sollte sich die Frage gefallen lassen, ob diese Daten/Informationen es überhaupt wert sind. Warum? Aus dem ganz einfachen Grund, dass zunächst einmal die Daten/Informationen als solche im Mittelpunkt stehen sollten und erst nachgelagert die Präsentation selbiger Daten. Denn: was wir brauchen ist eine Mail. Ein Kalendereintrag. Ein sonstwie geartetes Dokument aus einer Notes-DB oder aus Quickr. Das viele Eye Candy drumrum ist insofern irrelevant, als dass es für die Aufnahme und Verarbeitung der Daten im besten Falle nicht notwendig, im schlimmsten Falle schlicht kontraproduktiv ist.

Bleibt also nur noch der Vorteil, alles "in einer Hand" zu haben und im Idealfall auch noch ressourcenschonend(er) zu sein. Wie gesagt: auf heutiger Hardware ist das kein Totschlagargument mehr, wie es noch für 5 Jahren war. Aber: wir haben nach wie vor das Problem, dass Java Applets unter 64 Bit nicht tun. Um nur mal eines zu nennen. Von jedem Hersteller, der solcherlei Plattformen anbietet, bekommen wir also vorgeschrieben, welche Systemkonfigurationen wir zu verwenden haben. Toll, damit hat sich Mickischrott schonmal in die Nesseln gesetzt. Aber auch das relativiert sich recht schnell: ist ein aktueller Firefox, der in mindestens einem halben Duzend Tabs je eine JavaVM startet in Summe wirklich ressourcenschonender als ein (Basic)Notesclient? Auf 3 von mir gerade und mal eben auf die Schnelle getesteten Systemen jedenfalls nicht. Insofern dürfte sich der potenzielle Vorteil recht schnell zu einer guten Idee relativieren.

Was bleibt dann also noch? Meiner Ansicht nach nicht viel. Und wenn nicht viel bleibt, warum würden wir das haben wollen? Oder geht es schlussendlich gar nicht ums Haben-Wollen, sondern ums Haben-Müssen? Weil IBM es immer noch nicht geschafft hat, einen vernünftigen Notesclient zu bauen (der unsägliche Java-Client wurde bereits hinlänglich gewürdigt)? Weil es IBM schlichtweg egal ist, was die Endanwender wünschen (der unsägliche Java-Client wurde bereits hinlänglich gewürdigt)? Oder weil man mal eben schnell auf einen Zug aufspringen möchte, der seit mehreren Jahren am Rollen ist, der aber verschlafen wurde?

Ralf Stellmacher, 2010-02-15

I am glad you did not elaborate on the other two inflection points: The move in and out of Garnet and DB/2. The first has been healed years later with the Xpages, the latter is just missed time.

Felix Binsack, 2010-02-15

Ralf, Du musst Dich ganz dringend mal mit aktueller Web-Entwicklung beschäftigen.

Volker Weber, 2010-02-15

einen Nachtrag hätte ich noch:

Wenn sowieso neuerdings nur noch der Browser als Anwendung für alles gilt (siehe Google-OS), könnte ja irgendein Schlauer daherkommen und gleich die Serverprodukte abkündigen. IBM bietet doch eh schon Cloudservices an. Warum also noch einen Domino 9 und 10 basteln?

Und das ist schlussendlich das, was mir daran so auf die Nerven geht: man wird über kurz oder lang gezwungen, seine Daten irgendwo hin zu schieben, man hat sie nicht mehr selbst und schon gar nicht unter Kontrolle. Das alles wird zwar unter dem Stichwort "Usability" schön geredet, läuft im Endeffekt aber auf nicht brauchbare Anwendungen (Offlinebetrieb) hinaus oder darauf, dass man seine Daten aus der Hand gibt (Cloudservices fremder Anbieter). Wollen wir das? Wollen wir uns wirklich entmündigen und potentiell auspionieren lassen unter dem Vorwand "Alles wird besser, schöner, einfacher und billiger"? Oder wollen wir nicht nur denken, sondern nachdenken und all den schönen Buzzwords auf den Grund gehen, sie bewerten und dann schlussendlich als zahlende Kunden berechtigte Forderungen an den Anbieter (das ist ja nicht nur IBM) stellen, der sie gefälligst zu erfüllen hat?

Ralf Stellmacher, 2010-02-15

Felix, NSF on DB2 was not an inflection point. It was a wasted effort. The Garnet decision basically killed the Domino Java effort before it started. No inflection point either.

Volker Weber, 2010-02-15

OK, Volker, let's call Garnet and DB/2 not inflection point but detours. The first one would have been an inflection point for Domino, if IBM had not killed it. The latter one was a dead end road.

Felix Binsack, 2010-02-15

We are getting there. I am not trying to point out IBM's mistakes, but where they turned in direction. This is another big one. At least as an opportunity.

And forget Quickr Java. That is all but abandoned.

Volker Weber, 2010-02-15

Volker, ich beschäftige mich durchaus mit der Webentwicklung. Ich behaupte sogar, dass ich HTML4, CSS2 und PHP fließend spreche, JavaScript zumindest ausreichend. Wenn du mit "aktueller Webentwicklung" nun HTML5 und CSS3 meinst, gut: da muss ich passen.

Und genau aus dieser Erfahrung heraus meine ich ziemlich gut beurteilen zu können, dass man Oberflächen auch so zusammenbauen kann, dass zum einen alles wesentliche sofort ersichtlich ist und zum anderen dabei auf Klickibuntischnickschnack sehr gut verzichten kann. Nicht alles, was möglich ist, ist auch nötig. Nicht alles, was man als notwendig ansieht, ist auch technisch bedingt notwendig.

Zumal es ein ehernes Gesetz der Anwendungsentwicklung ist, dass Frontend- und Backendfunktionalitäten strikt getrennt zu sein haben. Mit JavaScript wird das Konzept oftmal aufgeweicht, indem Backendfunktionen ins Frontend (sprich: Browser) verlagert werden. Das ist einfach kein Stil.

Ralf Stellmacher, 2010-02-15

Apropos Stil, Du machst mir das wirklich ziemlich einfach:

Browsergedöns, hasse das wie die Pest, Flash und Konsorten, Mickischrott, Klickibuntischnickschnack

Mit anderen Worten: Du weisst schon alles. Das ist übrigens der Punkt, wo man alt wird. :-)

Volker Weber, 2010-02-15

DISCLAIMER: I only know some LS slides and press releases, so excuse me if I am wrong about Project Vulcan.

I think you and Felix are right and it's an important message: Project Vulcan is/will not (be) based on IBM Lotus Notes/Domino. You may be able to integrate it, but it is not a must. I agree with Volker that IBM should be courageous enough to understand Project Vulcan as inflection point, even at the cost of backward compatibility. But don't be naiv, it is proprietary technology (like XPages) and you have to use IBM products to fully leverage it.

I really like Lotus Notes 8.5.x, but I really know how expensive it is to deploy a full blown native client to thousands of workstations.

Many customers are using thousands of applications and that is always the argument for a Notes client deployment, but how many customers are REALLY using state-of-the-art Notes programming means? Most of these so called applications are Mail-In-Databases, discussion dbs, teamrooms, Office libraries, and other low-tech apps on the 1990 years level of programming. Or even worst, customers are mainly using Email & Calendaring.

The latter is a commodity service in my point of view, no matter what product is used to deliver Email & Calendaring "services" to the users. So, why should you rollout a piece of software, which potential is never leveraged? And I think it is not only IBM's fault, what about training for your employees, beloved customers who are always blaiming at IBM?

I've done more than 10 8.5.x deployment projects in 2009 and guess how many administrators got an appropriate 8.5.x update training? End user training for Lotus Notes 8.5.x? mmmh, have to use a dictionary for that ...

I think the benefit of a migration from Notes/Domino to anything else (not only MS products) is that customers are really thinking about their
IT infrastructure zoo and there current and future needs and are able to build a completely new environment based on these updated needs on a green field (and are spending millions of dollars they were not willing to spent for appropriate employee enablement in the past).

It's not because Notes/Domino is "legacy" (I really don't understand why Domino should be legacy, the oldschool apps are legacy) or other products are better than N/D.

Why are many customers not redesigning their infrastructure on the basis of the latest IBM product offering, but on the basis of competitors' offerings?
Perhaps a problem of lost confidence and promises not being fulfilled in the past?

(Don't take me wrong, promises made by others are not guaranteed to be fulfilled, either) :-)

So, is Project Vulcan only another nice try? It's up to IBM now and I am really looking forward ...

Christian Henseler, 2010-02-15

Lustige Diskussion das mit dem "Rich-Client" vs. "Browsergedöns":

Erstmal wage ich zu behaupten dass der Outlookwebaccess (OWA) einer der Hauptgründe des Erfolgs von Exchange gegenüber z.B. Notes war/ist. IBM hat viel zu lange auf dem "Rich-Client" Konzept herumgeritten und Webfähigkeit in meinen Augen immer nur halbherzig nachgeliefert.

Die Bedenken von dir Ralf, dass am Ende alle meine Daten in der Cloud liegen und die z.B. von Google kontrolliert und beherrscht wird kann ich nachvollziehen. Trotzallen ist offline Betrieb für mich inzwischen fast schon ein Schimpfwort. Ich habe 4 Rechner, ein Smartfone und zudem noch die Arbeits-Büchse des Kunden vor mir. Wie denn bitteschön soll ich alle meine Kontakt/Kalender/Adressdaten abgleichen? Ne, das Einrichten meines Mailclients, früher das Erste was ich am neuen Rechner gemacht habe, das spare ich mir inzwischen.

Trotzallen soll man rich-clients nicht totreden. Auf dem Hauptrechner läuft nach wie vor ein Rich-Mail-Client, und auch z.B. Office sehe ich keineswegs gut im Browser aufgehoben. Aber man stelle sich mal vor, man müsste für z.B. Ebay, Youtube, OnlineBanking, GoogleMaps und den tausend anderen Dingen jedesmal einen Client installieren und pflegen...
*bbbbrrr*grauslige Welt von der wir kommen....


Roland Dressler, 2010-02-15

Mit anderen Worten: Du weisst schon alles. Das ist übrigens der Punkt, wo man alt wird. :-)
Dass ich alles wüsste, habe ich nie behauptet, werde ich auch niemals behaupten. Ob ich alt werde oder bereits bin, das sei dahingestellt. Aber es stimmt insofern, als dass ich Modemsteuerbefehle auf der Konsole eingeben musste, um mich auf Mailboxen einzuwählen. Dass ich die ersten Internet Explorer und Netscape Communicator Versionen noch kennengelernt habe. Dass "das Internet" noch die Summe aller Protokolle war und nicht schlicht auf http und eventuell noch POP/SMTP reduziert wurde, wie es der heutige Sprachgebrauch nahelegt. Dass das Internet mal ein Raum war, in dem sich Profis getummelt haben.

Und ja: ich trauere diesen Zeiten ehrlich gesagt etwas nach.

Ralf Stellmacher, 2010-02-15

Christian, I do not agree that there are only low-tech apps out there. True, there are lots of low-tech apps. Lotus Notes is still an excellent rapid application development platform. But there are lots of complex and deeply integrated applications too, even if they do not utilize the full feature set available.

Felix Binsack, 2010-02-15

[Chauvi-Kommentar gelöscht. Ich dulde diesen herablassenden Stil nicht. Such Dir 'ne andere Baustelle. vowe]

Ralf Stellmacher, 2010-02-15

Too good to leave out, sorry.
In my opinion many people move to Exchange because they want to move away from Notes. The easiest way to move away from Notes and Domino probably is moving over to Exchange.

I am aware that people put Notes on Citrix but consider it a bad move. You lose almost everything that Notes currently shines at. Build in security, replication, off-line access and much more. It just does not make sense. Unfortunately you cannot tell customers when something does not make sense. In addition Notes is not the only application around and there certainly is a benefit moving to Citrix for many other desktop applications. I consider the Java client a fail but IBM did an hilarious job telling people that only Java will make the Notes client look prettier.

You cannot deploy Composite applications and widgets until you have not eliminated the last basic client or older version in your company. For many companies rolling out a Notes client release is a multi year effort. I don't know f they just do it wrong. In my humble opinion IBM gave up the old client too early but it now is too late.

Microsoft has been so busy in fixing Windows Mobile that they wasted a lot of time and resources. Of course Google is ahead in this area.

And for some comments. XPages probably replace Garnet but Garnet at least offered a chance that you would have been able to deploy apps on a Domino server that normally ran on Tomcat. For example products like Confluence. Of course those would not use nsf as the datastore but at least the Domino server would have been able to host hundreds of applications and probably being used for authentication (LDAP). And that was many years ago. Indeed a powerful idea, maybe too powerful at that time. The engine that currently runs XPages is crippled. It does not have to but IBM still seems to be afraid of something.

DB/2 was a wasted effort but I consider nsf an ageing data store nowadays (and its core still seems to be 16-bit). It still is the reason for many "You cannot do that with Notes" discussions. Maybe people don't want applications with hundreds of views and they want better query/reporting capabilities. I don't know if you need SQL for this and what other products like CouchDb and or Google Big Table offer in this area. But Connections is based on SQL and it seems to work for collaborative applications. I would sacrifice off line access at the application level to get some of those features. I have to admit that products like MySQL work very well nowadays (and for everything else there is CouchDb or the Cloud).
Now that I see that many companies have already moved, the ones that still rely on Notes and Domino often have a lot of "legacy" stuff. If the concept is to retire everything and redevelop in XPages I am afraid that many will not do this. As I have read somewhere else. Those have the money to move but not the money to stay. And honestly if I have to redevelop everything for the browser I am not sure if I would rely on XPages and the Notes Storage Facility. I am not against Vulcan but I think IBM has to lower the hurdles that customers get there. Or you just rely on getting new customers. If you give up the mail platform you can still win on the collaborative / application level.

Henning Heinz, 2010-02-15

Ok. So how do we get back to discussing Vulcan?

Volker Weber, 2010-02-15

@Roland: Sowohl für reine Online- wie auch reine Offline-Ansätze (wohl gleichzusetzen mit "Fat Clients") lassen sich immer Gegenargumente finden. Insbesondere Kontakt-, Kalender- und Mail-Daten möchte ich z.B. persönlich auch offline zur Verfügung haben, sonst würde ich in so manchem Funkloch wirklich dumm dastehen. Genau hier zeigt eine ("schwergewichtige"?) Lösung wie Notes (oder auch Outlook) durchaus seine Vorteile. Ich habe auf jeden Fall meine Daten auf meinen diversen und wechselnden digitalen Begleitern (Notebooks, Netbook, BlackBerry, iPhone) immer aktuell und zuverlässig abgeglichen. Wenn ich dann auch noch zusätzlich online, also per iNotes (oder OWA) darauf Zugriff habe, kann ich mir kaum noch eine nicht abgedeckte Nutzungssituation vorstellen. Es gibt also kaum die EINE Lösungsarchitektur, sondern eher eine möglichst flexible Architektur, die sich verschiedenen Nutzungssituationen anpaßt. Hier zeigt Notes - trotz seines Alters - interessante, wenn auch nicht immer perfekte Ansätze. Welche Fat-Client-Plattform löst z.B. so elegant wie Notes das in der Natur der Sache steckende Problem der Software-Distribution? Selbst Eclipses Updatesites sind in diesem Punkt nicht wirklich vergleichbar. Aber all die schöne Plattformtechnik nutzt nichts, wenn die Akzeptanz fehlt und die ist beim Benutzer und CxO-Entscheider nur über die Benutzeroberfläche zu gewinnen. Die Screenshots von Project Vulcan sehen ja zumindest schon nett aus...

Peter Meuser, 2010-02-15

Na gut, dann müssen wir mal den Zahn ziehen, dass moderne Browser-Apps nur online funktionieren. Mit HTML 5 braucht man dazu nicht mal mehr Gears.

Volker Weber, 2010-02-15

@Felix: Yes, of cause, there are state-of-the-art applications, but my point is: Most of the current customers are not leveraging the power of Notes/Domino and it starts with a knowledge problem how to apply all the new hot technology provided by N/D, because of missing training.
It's not a problem of available technology, but empowering your people to use them. Project Vulcan won't change this, because a fool with a tool is still a fool.
Migrating to any other platform is only masquerading the very problem that many organizations are not investing enough in training, because at first start of cause, people are trained.
In regards to Project Vulcan: In my point of view it is critical on which technology/product foundation Project Vulcan will be realized.
If IBM forces N/D customers to buy Lotus Connections, Sametime, etc... or with one word "anything from IBM", I doubt that it will be a success story, because I know many pure N/D customers who do not want to invest in DB2/Tivoli/Websphere stuff all new versions of Connections and Sametime are based on.
In my point of view the problem is system complexity and missing know how.
If a customer has to invest in completely new technology (from the customer's perspective), why should the customer necessarily buy the IBM products Project Vulcan is based on?
So, it will be critical for success to offer a smooth migration path and by starting to talk about Project Vulcan right now as a vision is OK, because people are (re)thinking about their strategy.
On the other hand it is dangerous for IBM to unsettle their customer base once again ...

Christian Henseler, 2010-02-15

Well I don't think you can argue much about HTML5 support. Now that the rich client died of fatness I am all for leveraging the browser. I am exited about the client experience but am a bit hesitant on the server side. I have not read much about the back-end of Vulcan. If I understand correctly there is no real Vulcan server. So I am a bit afraid that IBM will build something that is difficult to handle and offer cloud versions as the easy to run solution. For IBM this would make a lot of sense.
@Christian I don't buy that Domino customers are just fools. If one can handle complex systems like SAP they should be clever enough to run something like Notes and Domino in a smart way. And many of those rely on external consulting anyway. If those are fools too then IBM is in danger.
Pure N/D customers as you describe them should carefully think about their setups anyway. It will work for many years to come but I doubt that it will move forward. But you won't have to buy all those new software packages. They will be available under limited use licenses for free or at small fees. At least this was the case in the past.

Henning Heinz, 2010-02-15

Funny discussion. To me it looks like the rich client is not dead at all. You just get (once again) more development options, which is great.

If you want to develop solutions with a high interaction with the client machine, use Java or Lotusscript and create apps for the rich client: Interact with other (Domino/standalone) applications by using Composite Application technology, automate Office Suites and other locally installed applications from a CRM system or use some highly graphical UIs that would be hard to be built on the web.

To create something that works both on the web and in Lotus Notes, XPages is a cool new technology offering. It's quite easy to put together small applications in a rapid application way. If you come from Lotusscript, the Javascript of XPages should not be really difficult to learn.
You can do a lot with it. And for experts, the XPages engine (and the JSF framework it's based on) even offers a lot more to develop complex application architectures (in which you can also seemlessly call Java code for -advanced- things).
It's pretty logic that IBM will try to develop more and more things using XPages, simply because they can save the time to develop for two platforms. XPages on the Notes client currently has some limitations that make you feel you are only using a web application, but I'm sure IBM will close that gap more and more.

Regarding Project Vulcan, until now I haven't really seen a lot more than a few screenshots. It looks like a universal inbox, something like "Facebook for business users" that aggregates mail, calendar and other data sources in one giant news feed (with inline editing) - which is a great idea and I'm sure fun to use.
Maybe they start with it as a new client home page offering, maybe it will directly replace the Java based mail/calendar UI.
Customer application will follow this trend because most of the business processes start or end with email or calendar and you want to have a smooth process without different media (Native/Web UI).

But the Notes client is a bit more than just mail and calendar. And you can already do all that stuff in 8.5.1 with some coding (using XPages and Eclipse plugins). If IBM does it, they can define standard APIs that business partners can leverage to add their own content and they can create some boilerplate code to easily integrate legacy Notes apps. This is what will make the technology fly: bring everything together in one place which is not a Websphere server with 4 GB+x memory requirement. ;-)

At Lotusphere 2010, IBM announced that future versions of the XPages runtime (on client and server) will have OSGi support, which is the plugin model of Eclipse. That way, IBM and all the business partners can add their extensions by using a standardized system.
The fact that they will also add OSGi support on the Domino server side is really funny.
To all those people writing that the Java client is dead: In a few months, the technology of the Java client will not be dead, it will even spread out to the Domino server to empower the XPages architecture ;-).

At LS10 IBM also showed web based collaborative editing of documents, something like "Symphony for the web" or "IBM wave" (comparable to Google wave).
Of course this technology will get more powerful over the years and have more and more features. But I do not see yet that it can fully replace a Symphony rich client at the moment. And I don't expect that Symphony 3 will be the last rich client based Symphony version. They will continue to work on both offerings and time will tell if customers are completely happy with cloud offerings and replace all their workstations with Chrome OS machines, iPads and any other thin clients with a browser.
As long as IBM has solutions for all those platforms that customers want to use, change is not a bad thing. They are not doing rip and replace, the old stuff will still work.

Karsten Lehmann, 2010-02-15

Gesteht IBM mit dem Ansatz von Vulcan nicht eigentlich auch das Scheitern von Notes 8.x ein? Nach mehr als zwei Jahren Verfügbarkeit ist der Eclipse-Client nicht wirklich in den Unternehmen angekommen. Ich erlebe z.B. weiterhin Notes-Shops > 1.000 Benutzern, die gerade auf breiter Front anfangen Citrix auf 32-Bit Basis einzuführen (!). Dies impliziert fast schon, daß sich der Einsatz von Notes Standard verbietet. Gegen einen kurzfristigen Wechsel von Citrix XenApp 32-Bit auf 64-Bit (was in Zusammenhang mit Notes Standard unabdingbar ist) raten aus Erfahrungen die RZ-Betreiber gerne ab, da sie die 64-Bit-Welt noch nicht im Griff haben und den Aufwand/Ressourcenbedarf eines Wechsels scheuen. Kommt Vulcan schnell genug in die Gänge, wird das dann vielleicht auch nicht mehr nötig sein. Wenn nicht, sicherlich auch nicht mehr, weil dann die Outlook-Migrationsbefürworter Oberwasser bekommen. Es ist sicherlich naiv zu glauben, das hätten kluge Köpfe bei IBM nicht schon selbst erkannt. Ohne Wendepunkt in der Notes-Entwicklung sieht es insbesondere für die auch so von IBM geliebten größeren Installationskunden im Kundenstamm dunkel aus.

@vowe about Gears: Da habe ich wohl eine brauchbare, offline-fähige Ist-Lösung aus dem Themenbereich Messaging/Groupware übersehen - lerne aber gerne dazu. Was nicht ist, kann aber natürlich noch werden (schließlich schauen wir hier etwas in die "Zukunft")

Peter Meuser, 2010-02-15

I am really surprised that obviously many N/D shops don't use this product to build custom applications. Of course this is why you use Notes instead of Exchange.

How are they dealing with the need for typical workflows applications or document repositories (including application-specific functionality)? Excel? Mail?

Aren't they using data classification where confidential or secret data has to be encrypted in storage?

This thread is mainly about mail, calendering, discussions and social software. This is part of my reality but there's a lot more.

In Notes, a workflow application of medium complexity (a couple of forms, rich text "support", connection to orga database and other master data, three levels of security, encryption, views and export for Excel reports) can be built in like 10 days.

Is it just me or aren't there too many platforms around which can do the same?

Dirk Rose, 2010-02-15

Dirk, you are right with all these great genes of Notes to build workflow application. We have to ask, why it just happen too rarely.

- Missing awareness of the product at all by the company leaders (iPhone and friends are much more shiny)?
- Missing understanding of the platform by the heads of IT?
- Missing knowledge of the platform by the people building apps inside the companies (yes, we all get old and at least alone with the product ;-) ?
- Missing focus on making work life easier by building workflows apps (budget is already burned by ERP and infrastructure)?
- Missing UIs which make Notes apps look like coming from this century? Or: Missing sexiness at all? (Ok, XPages are coming slowly...)
- A missing consistent product development line from IBM since years (just remember details like the introduction of an "integrated" office paket inside Notes without the function "send document by mail")?

Building simple and secure workflow apps with Notes is really fast and exporting data to Excel (via good old OLE automation!) no wizardry, but: Will this be enough at the end?

Peter Meuser, 2010-02-15

@Dirk be careful. In 10 days you could probably build a workflow application but chances are high it would smell a lot like what is called legacy or old stuff.
@Peter If you look at the Zollar statement in (1) I am not sure if the inconsistent product development line from IBM is true. They just did not deliver, what many had hoped, but IBM never said or promised.
And sometimes I am a bit shocked that there is still the assumption that collaboration can only be done with Lotus Notes and Domino.
And yes, it seems it is hard to talk about Vulcan in this context. Maybe a few more (larger) screenshots and some background information from IBM would help. IBM sold the Vulcan preview as some kind of a roadmap but at least for me, who was not at Lotusphere, IBM left many unanswered questions.

Henning Heinz, 2010-02-15

@Henning - Vowe said it best:

But something wonderful happened: you can finally write powerful web applications that users like to use.

I would agree about the 10-day workflow app, unless said app was delivered via browser and XPages. Then it's modern and trendy, assuming you're not limited by (or can work around) NSF's indexing limitations.

@Everybody - I can't stress this enough: IBM is really, REALLY pushing forward with XPages development. I think part of the "problem" is that they're moving SO fast now that people are having a hard time keeping up -- especially with the speed at which Notes/Domino development has moved in recent years past.

Designer is now a free download, there's talk of free (or close to it) Domino development servers available in IBM's cloud, the Amazon EC2 cloud, and more. MUCH more. And I can't talk much about 8.5.2 (NDA and all that) but to quote Tim Tripcony's blog: It's gonna be c-r-a-z-y.

More info from IBM is needed regarding Vulcan, but it's coming. They promised Vulcan-related development toolkits mid year IIRC. IBM knows they need to blaze forward on this, and fast.

Erik Brooks, 2010-02-16

@Erik While I don't doubt that you can do it in XPages "a couple of forms, rich text "support", connection to orga database and other master data, three levels of security, encryption, views and export for Excel reports)"
just does not sound like a XPage project. It reads more like a classic Notes application (nothing wrong with that).
And yes 8.5.2 rocks as did 8.5.1 and 8.5.0 and every Notes 8 release where people said that it rocks.
To add to the topic. The second part of this short video shows HTML 5 offline access.

Henning Heinz, 2010-02-16

This is a very nice finger exercise shown in the video.

Give me the Notes base PIM functionality (and a little more of course) on this platform, still a smaller footprint than Notes and the same ease in customizing/developing the given functionality - I will buy it right away...

Maybe just a question of time and maybe the backend will be driven by Domino? ;-)

Peter Meuser, 2010-02-16

Back to Project Vulcan:

Project Vulcan is Lotus Vision for the future workplace, integrating services from Connections, Domino, Quickr, Sametime, your own custom apps and more. It will be available on premise and / or via SaaS.

One important message from the OGS to the customer base was: Project Vulcan is NOT A NEW PRODUCT. This is good for Lotus customer base, i.e. customers will receive Project Vulcan as part of regular software maintenance without having to pay extra license fees :-)

If Project Vulcan is not a product it must part of an existing product or rather, an existing product (or several of them?) will develop to the vision of Project Vulcan. Now, which products will that be?

Will Project Vulcan be the next Lotus Notes Release? In the OGS Project Vulcan was demoed within Lotus Notes. And the fat / rich client will add many benefits to Project Vulcan, that will not be available in browser clients, here are some:

- Office Integration (aka Symphony)
- Offline Capabilities (far beyond HTML 5 / Google Gears)
- Video Conferencing (with up to 8 counterparts)
- Unified Telephony (integrated softphone)
- Windows Desktop Integration (or should I say legacy app integration?)
- File System Access and Encryption for local files
- Plugin Architecture based on Eclipse RCP, that goes far beyond pure frontend extensions like Gadgets or Widgets

Sure, Project Vulcan will run in Lotus Notes and will tightly integrate all sorts of information and services from Domino servers. But I would be extremely bewildered, if Project Vulcan would only run in Lotus Notes. Of course Lotus will try to attract Non-Notes customers (i.e. Browser only) for this new and shiny piece of software. Project Vulcan will integrate Lotus Live iNotes mail services and later on, maybe even with third party mail service integration.

So, I assume, for new customers Project Vulcan will be a new product, for existing customers it will require some new hardware or SaaS. IBM, please help us understand! This time it is a bit more complicated then to decipher “Hannover” to “Notes 8”.

Felix Binsack, 2010-02-16

Erik Brooks wrote:
> @Everybody - I can't stress this enough: IBM is really, REALLY pushing
> forward with XPages development. I think part of the "problem" is that
> they're moving SO fast now that people are having a hard time keeping up
> -- especially with the speed at which Notes/Domino development has
> moved in recent years past.

Maybe, but it isn't enough.

First, developing in XPages is PAIN. You dont have normal JS editor, you dont have even simple documentation! How we are supposed to work with it?

Second, why should we need XPages, when we could use PHP for example? PHP is free, there are millions of experienced developers worldwide. There are lot of libraries, nice IDEs with good JS and SSJS support. All this is missing for XPages.

I think, in the world of web development no one really interested in XPages, except hardcore Notes programmers. But programmers dont make decisions, CIOs do. And many many CIOs consider Domino as legacy platform for email. It is extremely hard to change their minds, and frankly speaking IBM is doing not much, I could even say IBM doing opposite.

Alex Karonski, 2010-02-16

Alex, I strongly disagree. I don't know what experience level you have with XPages, and what lead to your conclusion.

Actually, developing with XPages is fun, fun, fun. And very productive.
You should compare XPages with developing with pure JSF instead of PHP.

The opinion of CIOs, CEOs and whatelse C's there are is hard to change, I agree on that. But the best way to change it is to provide great apps. And IBM, it's partners and the community are doing that.

Julian Buss, 2010-02-16

@Henning - You're right, it does read like a classic Notes app. But my point was that you said things would be "legacy or old stuff." I think that with XPages it's fairly simple to shed the "legacy" look and feel.

@Alex - Documentation could definitely be better, but that is improving (the IBM Xpages/8.5.1 Web Dev Redbook is very good.) If you've got a project that's better suited for PHP than XPages (really, JSF), then I would argue that you've got a different set of requirements. JSF (and therefore XPages) has many, many advantages over PHP.

And the simple fact that XPages are written in JS/SSJS opens them up to far more people than even PHP. But I agree: IBM does need to shake up interest in XPages web dev -- hopefully that will happen soon outside of the Notes/Domino world. For the Vulcan vision to take off they will need to do so.

Erik Brooks, 2010-02-16

It's not a case of "if the technology can do it." that much is already clear. But rather ... Does anyone know it can ? sigh!

Giulio Campobassi, 2010-02-17

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