Lotus, this is going to hurt a little

by Volker Weber


I was attending a Lotus community call (newspeak: IBM Collaboration Solutions Community Meeting) today. And it turned into a train wreck. What attendees expected to hear: "This is how the Lotus brand evolves." What they heard instead: "Social business blah." It is pretty clear, that Lotus as a brand is toned down. IBM Lotus Forms, IBM Lotus Connections, IBM Lotus Sametime. Next up: LotusLive. This makes Ed Brill officially the captain of a luxury liner that bears the name Lotus. It does not have to hit an iceberg, but there is precedence.

If IBM cannot will not explain to their faithful in 60 minutes, what is becoming of Lotus, the brand, the products, and how it all fits together, they certainly cannot do the same in 30 seconds to a customer. And 30 seconds is a long time to say "Exchange, Sharepoint, Lync, you got it".

I heard today that a huge IBM customer with 180,000 seats is moving everything to the Microsoft stack. This is a heavy duty, all white-collar Notes user. I am not at liberty to disclose the name of that customer, but IBM has seen this coming for half a year.


It's a two lane highway (to use an IBM euphemism). Except one appears to be a dead end.

Darren Duke, 2011-06-28

I think the point of the call was clear. It wasn't "here is what is becoming of the Lotus (or any of their brands will be) but what we are trying to with bundling individual products to look like solutions".

I am not saying I agree, just summarizing in my posting.

Chris Miller, 2011-06-28

It wasn't "here is what is becoming of the Lotus (or any of their brands will be)

I beg to differ. This is the subject of my invitation from June 6:

IBM Collaboration Solutions Community Meeting - Is the Lotus brand going away?

And the answer to that question is way overdue. Lotusphere 2011 would have been the perfect time (and place).

Volker Weber, 2011-06-28

As I told some friends:

Tuesday, 28 JUNE 2011: The Day The Music Died...


Rocky Oliver, 2011-06-28


Thanks for posting this. I was on the call today as well. As a gadlfy that is generally too nuclear, I generally just sit and watch but I will comment here today...gently...

I think your one line needs to go from ...

"If IBM cannot explain to their faithful in 60 minutes..."


"If IBM will not explain to their faithful in 60 minutes..."

IBM knows exactly where the Lotus brand is going: away. For very good reasons, they will not say that and that is good for our community.

To my fellow Business Partners I say this:

IBM is changing very quickly. Much more quickly than many of you realize.

None of us will be along for the ride in our current incarnations. Some of us will not be along for the ride at all.

Evaluate your plans, personal and business, keeping in mind that the business technology future is very likely going to morph into some form of The Matrix + The Borg + FaceBook/Twitter/etc. That is not necessarily bad but it is a VERY big shift from the way we operate as Business Partners today.

Russell Maher, 2011-06-28

Makes sense. Changed.

Volker Weber, 2011-06-28

Uh...wow...I was speaking metaphorically for you to change your posting but hey it is your blog so of course you can do as you please.

(clamming up again now)

Thanks again for your post.

Russell Maher, 2011-06-28

As I said, the change makes sense. And regarding your advice to fellow BPs, I have said it before.

Volker Weber, 2011-06-28

... the business technology future is very likely going to morph into some form of The Matrix + The Borg ...

Martin Hiegl, 2011-06-28

Being involved with IBM for 32 years, I am through too many of these half followed through re-marketing programs, OS/2, microchannel, db2 everywhere, Lotus Foundations, now with the half supported LotusLive program. Over and over again the SMB efforts don't have the champion in side or the Marketing to succeed. Never a clear honest Message. But this time is different. Like corporations moving jobs to other countries and leaving the people behind IBM is doing that to the faithful. The people who have championed their product, which IBM never really liked. They've been trying to kill this Brand since they bought it. But now with the shift they are making all our certifications worthless. Leaving older workers with a resume that will not have a current technology on it. With no workers with experience on their products. So we've invested our lives work into their products so they can make money and now they close the plant and move the work to ty to somewhere else. We've been fighting the fight against MS, a lot better and harder then IBM Marketing has over the years. And what will this say to the next generation of workers. "You can't invest too heavily in IBM because they will abandon you with out a thought" we've been in a dog fight with MS for decades. And we've made money doing it, But betting everything on Connections then new 1980's version of a portal that didn't catch on then and may not catch on now all while you have a solid base in Lotus Notes is risky and may just kill the product line saving IBM the cost of rebranding. I have 14 more year till retirement and will invest in other things as my efforts in SMB with IBM's products have not been fruitful. I'll keep digging into major companies who have or are freezing Notes as an email system only and ride my time out. And leave the mess to younger men who don't know about loyalty to and from your employer and will only work with the vendors that make them the most money today and keep looking for the vendor with the highest profit margin for them. Leaving major vendors with out a solid BP base to support their programs and pushing to costs back on them raising their cost of doing business and making their products less attractive because there is no vendor\support base.
It's a death spiral in the market space for IBM\Lotus and a sign of the times. Mo' Money at All costs.

Charles Reid, 2011-06-28

I love to comment but I missed the call. Do you know if it is going to be replayed.

Richard Moy, 2011-06-28

Yes, it is supposed to be available, if somewhat later.

Volker Weber, 2011-06-28

This change has been hinted at strongly since at least last iLug. And so Its odd, really, as we'd all expected to hear something about how the change is going to happen today on this call.

I have a few (abusive) personal emails from senior XXXXXX execs, one which said:

"Grow a pair".

Perhaps I could ask this senior XXXXXXX exec to perhaps reflect on this statement, and perhaps apply it to the very thing that he's supposed to be doing?

Just a thought.

---* Bill

Bill Buchan, 2011-06-29

Ok, so what did they say?

Adam Osborne, 2011-06-29

Well the tenor of the entire presentation and following debacle of a discussion certainly was disappointing, irritating but at the same time not surprising at all.

The reality is that you see at least today that they aren't out here commenting on these blog posts that we're getting it wrong. They know they can't, they know their only plan is to lump the 'toxic assets' they want to eliminate into one bucket while saving a few others.

IBM isn't unique in actively working to scrap a product, aligning them for failure so they can issue the 'difficult business decision' press release some time later.

The explanation that it simply means embedding them into other solutions, and that it's just another way of thinking about how they are sold...how many of us really believe that? I doubt many.

What would be interesting but yet won't likely happen is that once the final days are announced they act to open source the core ND code. At that point perhaps it would become one of those niche community systems that flourish in some other way like things like Joomla have.

We are an IBM Business Partner. We still will be no matter what IBM does with Lotus. That's mainly because our company isn't Lotus centric. We do Notes & Domino, sure. We can do Sametime etc too, but Lotus isn't our lifeblood. But, if Lotus Notes & Domino WERE what I was counting on as a partner....I'd be looking for an exit plan.

The other thing is that while Sametime and Connections & Quickr may be seen as popular, the reality that simply dropping the Lotus name from them won't necessarily help sustain them or grow that business. The link will always be there even if they call it IBM WebSphere Sametime.

They are going to lose those large customers. It doesn't matter that IBM doesn't say something about it. The community is doing it for them. Remember Microsoft's comments to customers about being the last company on Notes? They now have a lot more fodder for that conversation. The defection won't necessarily all happen through the rest of 2011 but it sure as heck will in 2012 as those renewals come up. Expect them to drop off at a rapid rate.

Customers deserve better than this. Partners? Well we are used to being treated like crap. :)

Too bad the community is officially just noise. Suppose it has been for awhile in their eyes.

Kevin Mort, 2011-06-29

Open source ND ?

Its been discussed on ideaJam.net before.

Don't get me wrong - I think it'd be a good thing. But given the general lack of Cohones...

---* Bill

Bill Buchan, 2011-06-29

Time to look at some history. I hope it does not play out this way.

Adam Osborne, 2011-06-29

@Bill, I’m still LMAO at the idea of a senior exec telling someone to “grow a pair”. The words “pot” and “kettle” come to mind… (explanation).

Ben Poole, 2011-06-29

The word "Lotus" is going away as is the other brand names. The products themselves are still the same.

(5 second web search)

> He confirmed that over the next two years that IBM will be retiring many
> of it's brand names by the end of 2012. Products (think Sametime,
> Connections and more) will not be going away at all. Brands like Lotus,
> Websphere, Tivoli and DB2 will be folded in.

This isn't news.

> but IBM has seen this coming for half a year.

Hardly news either. Discussed here.


Simon O'Doherty, 2011-06-29

Our strategy (Marketing) is available through a Google blog search. Oh well.
There are not many active Notes and Domino customers with 180.000 seats anymore (at least in Germany).
Probably hardly any of the big migrations recently were because of the Lotus brand either. Not a big problem for IBM as it seems but I feel a bit sorry for all those blindly following their strategy.

Henning Heinz, 2011-06-29

@Henning, I was just pointing out that this has already been discussed at least over a month ago. I just pulled those out as I was reading at home.

It isn't a surprise that this is happening, and the products are not vanishing just because the branding name is being removed.

Simon O'Doherty, 2011-06-29

Volker, you've nailed this.

I'm not against dropping the name "Lotus" at this point. Not at all. This announcement/non-announcement, however, is the most incredibly fscked up way it could possibly have been handled.

The message went out to partners but apparently not journalists, so by the time it got out it had been folded, spindled, and mutilated.

I can't find any comprehensive statement anywhere about what is ACTUALLY changing. I don't know if only the names of the products change (or if they don't). I don't know if the products I specialize in will change in name, in license, or if their features will be distributed across other products. I don't know if the people I work with in support, development, etc. will still be organized as they are. I don't know if the conferences I participate in and the community that I'm a member of will still exist.

I'm not sure I can remember ever seeing a more poorly handled marketing move.

Andrew Pollack, 2011-06-29

I niche question is all the certified people, are they going to give us new certs, since the product is no longer a Lotus Product, ex sametime. Then they should give us new titles so we can use it on resume's and advertising. I know they don't respect the certified community and I know the program is an after thought for them, with minimal benefits or resources given to it. So I guess it's too much to ask them for anything at all.

Charles Reid, 2011-06-29

Richard, you didn't miss anything. IBM did not say anything important and what they left out spoke volumes. The Lotus brand is being dissolved before our eyes. It will be rolled into something else as a part of some IBM (marketing) bundled solution and then that solution will then be eliminated within the next few years as well.

I have no desire to learn, use or work with anything to do with Websphere because I do not know Linux (cannot afford to take the time to learn it these days), cannot afford the outrageous costs of the software licensing and will certainly am not interested in investing in the hardware required to run it.

I can and do run Notes/Domino and XPages on my current hardware. I can learn JavaScript since I know LotusScript. CSS and HTML are easy enough to pick up and there are enough examples out there to make learning them easy. Java, that is a different story, but until I really need to use it I can ask my friends to help me out with code samples that I can work with.

Roy Rumaner, 2011-06-29

Roy, funny you say that about linux because of all the stuff you mentioned, Linux is by far not the hardest to get into -- especially from the standpoint of hosting a server.

The rest of your point though, is well made.

Andrew Pollack, 2011-06-29

one advantage, we can save the money going to LS12... will miss the hogride.

Marten Vosmer, 2011-06-29

Was the strategy was to take the cart, put it in front of the horse and then race the horse into the cart giving it a bloody nose or worse?

They can hide behind the Lotus name and damage it all they want but ultimately we all know it's an IBM brand and mud sticks.

I'm sure that the very public attempts to drag a coherent story out of IBM are unhelpful until IBM gets that story straight which it clearly must do.

Jason Hook, 2011-06-29


This sound like another PR mess created by IBM just like the one with Foundations just not too long ago. Domino is really the only product that IBM has that is unique and IBM does not seem to figure what they want to do with it. If you look at the capabilities of Domino, it is really the ultimate social business platform.

Traveler is really part of Domino, Quickr uses Domino, Connections and Sametime have already be rebranded as part of IBM especially is they are Websphere based or whatever IBM calls that now.

To create my Web applications, I use HTML, Javascript, Dojo, CSS, and LotusScript and XPages agents. This all comes together as UXPages, separation of form and data. My applications if needed will easily be ported over to php or any other platform. Since IBM can not make their minds up in their direction, I have to be really to switch to something else if needed. I am not a big fan of Java and with new platforms evolving like node.js and couchdb, many of the functions that Domino is providing at this time can be duplicated without the need for learning Java.

I love Domino, but how is IBM going to help me make money sell and creating application. Oh I can't sell it anymore under the new guidelines.

Richard Moy, 2011-06-29

Mmh, this all might explain these solutions found in lots of Lotus technotes lately:

"The problem will be fixed in a future release if there is one."

Oliver Regelmann, 2011-06-29

Oh, you can't make that one up.

Volker Weber, 2011-06-29

@Oliver http://blog.darrenduke.net/darren/ddbz.nsf/dx/when-ibm-is-not-going-to-fix-a-problem-they-let-you-know-this-problem-was-resolved-as-no-plans-to-fix-ever.htm

Jason Hook, 2011-06-29

That is an honest to the bone answer. I like that.

Volker Weber, 2011-06-29

Thanks for the posting. As a long time Advanced Business Partner I have been continually frustrated that IBM seems to be so sanguine about the erosion of the user base.

Over the years I have called various reps and advised of long time enterprise accounts that were very frustrated and considering a move away from IBM technologies. The replies? Vague emails and calls of interest and then nothing.

Currently, I am dealing with two very large international firms and one of largest state health agencies in the US - all are on Quickr and all three have advised of their intent to move off of Quickr to SharePoint. What kind of reaction do I expect when I tell the latest IBM Manager of the Month of this dilemma? Nadda.

Jim Engle, 2011-06-29

Unbelievable. 20-some years down the drain. Let's put our years of teeth-gnashing to work and buy it back from IBM before they sell it to a museum. BPs unite!

Lee Salzman, 2011-06-29

i was thinking about the process, and that IBM really doesn't value the small BP or the Certified community. And I was wallowing in my dis pare but then I thought who is sitting around the table deciding where we go with what tech. ooo wait... that's me.... and Management. So IBM may want to go Left but I can be like that mule at the resort in PA that wanted to rub me off by scraping trees and just take the position that we "freeze" at 8.5.x for the next few years and not go in the direction IBM want to steer us. We've been the inside sales force for IBM for decades and they don't recognize us. So we must not be of any value to them. So we don't have to push for the next upgrades, we can tell management that to go to connections is a total change in the way the company does business, that it will open tons of issues about confidential material being released. We can open the records management issues. We can tell them it will lead to a reduction in Middle management jobs. Since IBM doesn't care about us, then why should we "sell" their ideas. We don't have to move we can stay the same and do our business fine. We can sell that it's going to take a big investment in training and changes to corporate culture to make web 2.0/connections work. We can say we don't have any webspere trained people to move in that direction. The Lotus community is made up of people that "sit at the Table" we don't have to go in the direction that we are being steered, we can brush them up against a tree and see how they like it.

Charles Reid, 2011-06-30

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