Notes and Domino is going the way of Quickr and Smartsuite

by Volker Weber

Image: Felipe Menegaz

There comes a time for every IBM product where development gets transferred to BRIC. Domino Workflow, SmartSuite, Quickr. As folks in Littleton have been told, Notes and Domino will be making this transition as well. As it is nearly impossible to weed out Notes applications, there is work for years. Bugs have to be fixed, the lights have to be kept on. Notes is still making good maintenance money, and you can only charge for maintenance if you are actually delivering. Traveler is one of these pieces that made customers pay for maintenance, as they needed to get Notes data onto mobile devices.

Some of the better (known) Notes developers moved to the Watson team to work under Bill Hume who was responsible for the Domino server. Jeff Eisen became the chief architect. This is one of the coolest jobs at IBM right now.

Lotus' new hope is Connections. Many folks who have been developing XPages are now working on Connections. Connections is an expensive product and it is complicated. That is good for consulting, so brush up on your WebSphere and Connections skills. Be ready to compete with IBM Global Services though.

Connections has proven that it works well in Microsoft environments. When Connections 4 comes out, it will work with Domino and Exchange. IBM's future success in this space depends less on Notes.

Make your plans accordingly.


"As folks in Littleton have been told"

Who are the folks in Littleton? and Who Told them?

Mark Gesick, 2012-04-25

Quoting IBM:

The IBM Mass Lab is IBM's largest Software Development Lab in North America. A campus comprised of sites in Littleton and Westford, Massachusetts, the IBM Mass Lab brings together 3,400 of IBM's best and brightest minds in the industry to design and develop first-of-a-kind solutions to respond to customers’ computing challenges.

Who told them? Their managers.

Volker Weber, 2012-04-25

I find it a bit strange that you've put Quickr in the same sentence as (abandoned 12 years ago but still a cash cow) SmartSuite.

Quickr-D is actively being updated (in Littleton and China) and has a 3-5 year foreseeable future. The next major version is 2H 2012.

I said the same thing about longevity in 2001, but it keeps on going.

Rob Novak, 2012-04-25

The SmartSuite people would probably complain about being in the same sentence as Domino Workflow.

If I am not mistaken, Quickr development has completely transitioned to China. The STSM (Senior Techical Staff Member) flew to China in 2010.

Volker Weber, 2012-04-25

As far as I know, a lot of ND is already made outside of US. And by the way, the location is not a problem... Of course, the annoying info in this message is that ND could then be considered in "maintenance mode"... let's see...

As far as Connections goes, I consider it as a much more "classic" IBM software. Much like Websphere Portal when portals were the hype. Very powerfull but very complex, very demanding on infrastructure to set up and often sold for the wrong reasons and then a strong deception for customers.

Michael Bourak, 2012-04-25

If Notes and Domino is going to maintenance mode which I do not believe, I will not switch my clients to Connections. It is too expensive, too complex, and does not do the things that I need a web application server to do. There are plenty of alternative solutions.

Richard Moy, 2012-04-25

Until IBM announces they'll be taking the product the way of Smartsuite (i.e., maintenance mode) then I'll bank on Notes being around for the forseeable future.

Steve Pitcher, 2012-04-25

Would you expect them to issue a press release?

Jeff Gilfelt, 2012-04-25

I can't find my "SmartSuite slips into maintenance mode" press release.

Volker Weber, 2012-04-25

Hardy har. :)

No, I'm not expecting a press release. Maybe I am hopeful of a statement of direction. While I see Connections being IBM's focus, I don't see IBM abandoning Notes into maintenance mode just yet. Wishful thinking or perhaps I haven't seen anything indicative of this type of abandonement. Coming from a Smartsuite shop a few years ago, the info we got from our IBM rep was not to expect anything new. That was the writing on the wall for us.

Perhaps Ed Brill's post is aptly timed. The pessimist may say that maybe the boys will be going to Littleton to secretly plan the product's demise. I'd be hopeful they're discussing the plans Notes Social Edition and Notes 9, as stated.

Steve Pitcher, 2012-04-26

I work with quite some of the engineers in Pune and Beijing and I found a lot of talent and willingness to innovate, so from my point of view having Notes in AP could boost delivery quite a bid.
Seeing India and China as mere US workbenches is an outdated model

Stephan H. Wissel, 2012-04-26

Well, software dvelopment works best, if you can keep your existing developers on the product. Can you name a Lotus product that got a boost from being transferred to BRIC? Or in the other directionn if that ever happened.

Volker Weber, 2012-04-26

A good reality check for the enormous talent of the IBM BRIC development capabilities is Lotus Symphony. This probably is the level where IBM is going to compete in the future (and probably enough for some).
And QuickR remains a horrible product, no matter where it is being developed.

Henning Heinz, 2012-04-26

Are any of you IBM Design Partners ? We are and I can tell you IBM is putting a lot of efforts into Notes and Domino - so no - I don't think it is going into maintenance mode anytime soon.

Quickr is a different history having Connections doing some small overlapping and unless Quickr goes into the oneUI and it gets easier to work with behind scenes the future might not be that bright.

@Richard - Connections is not the replacement of Notes. You can use Connections as a complement to your messaging (no matter what that is) and it is not intended as development platform as Microsoft is doing with Sharepoint and that's why even the simplest application development effort in Sharepoint is at least 2-3 times what it takes for Domino developers.

Luis Guirigay, 2012-04-26

hah...I think you jumped the shark with the 'toxic apps' comment earlier this week:)

Mike McPoyle, 2012-04-26

If you are in a corporate where Notes and Domino are well established technologies and you are using the full stack you probably don't have to care much.

If you work for a company that is a bit uncomfortable with Notes, as it currently is, but you hoped that IBM is developing the new uber lightning fast client and finally bringing nsf into the 21st century then you should start to worry.
It is not going to happen.

If you are already on Exchange and have some Sharepoint you should invest heavily in learning a new technology that is NOT XPages (my opinion).

Technology is moving fast and IBM is already behind with Notes and Domino in may ways. Those who say that developing with other technologies is always 2-3 times slower in many cases know nothing else besides Domino and maybe some J2EE stuff (at least this is my experience).

Connections is hot at the moment but I don't think it will ever employ as many people as Domino once did.

Henning Heinz, 2012-04-26

@Henning - Just for your FYI.. I am talking about Sharepoint Developers with no Domino experience... we have a Microsoft Practice and an IBM Practice so we can sell you both..

BTW... I'd love to sell you a Sharepoint project... is every's sales rep dream.

Luis Guirigay, 2012-04-27

I have responsibility for the collaboration products at IBM including Notes Domino and Connections. I understand the need to create sensationalism when you are a journalist. It is what sells tabloids every day. There is absolutely no truth that Notes and Domino are going away. BRIC is absolutely a viable base to do development. We have many great products that are built at different labs around the planet. As we speak, I am sitting in Littleton with the entire Messaging leadership team planning our roadmap into the future . The team says hi. Falsehood that goes unchallenged turns into fact.
Jeffrey Schick
VP of Social Software

Jeffrey Schick, 2012-05-02

Thanks, Jeff.

I am not saying, Notes & Domino are going away. I am saying they are going to BRIC. Just as Quickr did, and other products before Quickr.

I am saying this because management has made it pretty clear to developers in your team that they should volunteer to move there, or be ready to train their replacements.

Have I been lied to?

Volker Weber, 2012-05-02

It's all part of a broader IBM pattern; e.g., see this take from Cringely

Peter O'Kelly, 2012-05-02

Peter, we covered this elsewhere.

Volker Weber, 2012-05-02

Volker, we have a very strong Notes Domino development team based in Littleton/US and would continue to do so... and no, we are not holistically moving the development to BRIC, we have certainly strengthened our development activities there and other labs around the world.

Sandesh Bhat (VP, Messaging & Collaboration Development, IBM Software)

Sandesh Bhat, 2012-05-02

Thanks for the clarification, Sandesh. I am sure your very strong Notes Domino development team will be glad to hear this. And remind you if necessary. ;-)

And Jeff, we don't sell tabloids around here. We don't even like them.

Volker Weber, 2012-05-02

Thanks, Volker; I found my way to this discussion via your related Google+ post, and didn't stop to read all of your other recent blog posts before sharing the Cringely reference.

Peter O'Kelly, 2012-05-02

Peter, nobody is on Google+. It's a ghost town. Seriously though, I did not expect you to read everything else. Just wanted to avoid to take this discussion to the more speculative level of Mr Cringely.

I do however have a déjà vu from my Redbooks sensationalism. As it was then, I would very much like to be proven wrong.

"Niemand hat die Absicht, eine Mauer zu errichten."

Volker Weber, 2012-05-02

Thanks for the clarification -- I find the Google+ "ghost town" increasingly valuable these days, and I believe traditional bloggers are going to need to develop consistent criteria for guiding discussion venues (history repeats -- another "contextual collaboration" conundrum...).

Tangentially connecting discussion threads, it will also be interesting to see how the established enterprise communication/collaboration software players adapt to the competitive combination of Google Apps, Google+, and Google Drive, once Google finishes consolidating its services.

FWIW I think the latest Cringely series drifted a bit after the first couple posts (e.g., I think his Oracle analogy was way off track), but I believe he is asking some important questions, and I find it interesting that IBM has not bothered to attempt to refute his allegations (at least as far as I've seen). IBM appears to be doing exactly what investors such as Warren Buffett want, optimizing for shareholder value, but the longer-term consequences for other groups, including IBM customers, partners, and competitors, have yet to be determined.

Peter O'Kelly, 2012-05-02

I think IBM believes the discussion goes away if they ignore Cringely. And that might actually work.

IBM sometimes is less "social" than they would like us to believe. I know for a fact that employees and partners have been "asked" to stay away from my site, unless ... Jeff and Sandesh don't know of this ban, since they are higher up. ;-) Anyway, I welcome any clarification.

Volker Weber, 2012-05-02

I am getting in a few translations from underlings, set in blockquotes below.

"Notes & Domino is not going away"

That's two things: "It will be in maintenance for a long time just like any other IBM product" and "It's not going away because we have a few people still working on it".

"BRIC is absolutely a viable base to do development."

And much cheaper. No contest.

"We have many great products that are built at different labs around the planet."

That's true. XPages was built in Ireland. Most of the team now work on Connections. Maureen Leeland moved to Connections as well, which now leaves just two devs on Domino Designer.

"Volker, we have a very strong Notes Domino development team based in Littleton/US and would continue to do so…"

Indeed. They keep the cloud version of Domino running. That is not what you buy to run on premises.

"we are not holistically moving the development to BRIC"

Of course not. Instead we assign devs to other projects like Connections and Watson and let BRIC take over.

Volker Weber, 2012-05-02

do the underlings tell you who was announced today internally as the new chief architect for Notes, and where that person is based? or the people working on that same team? Or the size of the development budget for this product that supposedly has "a few people still working on it"?

You know that Jeff, Sandesh, and i can't say everything we would like to say in public, so you can post away without direct refutation. But on behalf of the hundreds of people worldwide who work on Notes, Domino, iNotes, Designer, Traveler, SmartCloud Notes, Expeditor, LEI, and every other component of this product, I want to say clearly that the underlings are telling you what they want you to hear. To my colleagues, I'm not sure who I spent the day with in Littleton but it was more than "a few people still working on it".

Ed Brill, 2012-05-03

Thanks, Ed.

I want to say clearly that the underlings are telling you what they want you to hear

I am pretty sure that is exactly what everybody is doing. They tell you what they want you to hear. And they don't tell you what they don't want you to hear.

I am sure I will hear further bits and pieces. It's a developing story and there are so many people involved, their lives and careers, their pride of the work they have done. They are holding on to it dearly.

Volker Weber, 2012-05-03

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