What is the future of Notes/Domino?

by Volker Weber

After reading a comment that IBM should be talking about Notes 10 early 2016 or else, I was wondering about the current roadmap. Icon UK in September seemed not too long ago, so I went through the slides.


Apparently IBM sees Notes/Domino now as part of the Connections platform.


Notes and IBM Client Application Access (the artist formerly knows as the Notes browser plugin) are labelled as Client/Server Legacy.


And there is a "Notes/Domino Next" scheduled for 2H2015 and another one for 2018 and beyond. I have not heard anything about this next version of Domino, but this particular slide is from April 2015 and looks rather generic. What is Notes/Domino Next? 9.0.something?

IBM (and customers) never got anything out of the humongous boat anchor Eclipse Client Platform that bogged down the Notes 8 client. Even Symphony is gone for good. It was the wrong move and the wrong time. Now it's legacy and apps should be accessible from mobile and browser. IBM can still make money from the CALs required to access those apps.

I see a gap opening between IBM's effort to move to a cloud business and stubborn German customers who don't want to have anything like that. Verse on premises appears as a 2016 deliverable, but much like I had doubts about that happening "in the second half" as announced at ConnectED 2015, I cannot see it in 2016 either.

Any thoughts?


Going back to the old Lotus vs. Microsoft mindset, here's the main difference I see. While both companies still have large roadmaps for the upcoming years (and whether or not there will still be Product X in the future), they act VERY differently in between those mile markers. Microsoft is rolling out new features and updates to their core platform (I'll assert that the platform is O365) on a monthly (if not weekly) basis. You're getting new value continuously. Yes, there's some churn, but I think it's positive. IBM seems to be frozen until the "next release" comes, and then you have to decide if you're going to install it. I don't know how they're doing on the cloud side, as I never hear it discussed in tech media.

I could be completely wrong on the IBM side since I don't live there any more. But from the outside looking in, it seems to be waterfall vs agile (if you want to apply those terms to companies).

Thomas Duff, 2015-11-25 16:53

I don't care about the Version number (which is of cause important for marketing and most descision makers).
Really missing is the evolution of the on prem area in the Notes/Domino brand.
There is functionality that cannot be provided by FixPacks/FeaturePacks.
I want IBM Verse on prem as soon as possible or at least the modern UI design of the mail file (iNotes next, which is Domino based)!
Unfortunatly, IBM needs to much time to provide a on prem version of IBM Verse and underestimated the cloud resistance in Europe (it's not only Germany in my point of view).
Just to be clear, I think that most parts of IBM Verse on prem will not be Domino based, in my Point of view it's only the mail part used as landing page for all the rest.

As 9.0 was titled 8.5.4 until one month of before GA, we may see the same kind of marketing magic with 9.0.2 once again ...

Christian Henseler, 2015-11-25 17:37

On a recent event in Milano Jeff (himself) demoed some pretty good stuff from the IBM-internal Verse implementation.
I spoked at the demo centre with an engineers and they confirmed that the on-premise version is delayed. "they are not ready yet". I assume we will hear the announcement at Connect.

goran angelov, 2015-11-25 17:47

Well, that is the new normal. Development of cloud services is way more agile, you get immediate feedback, and that fills your todo list. Finally you may be able to create an on premises installer, instructions on how to operate it, and then deliver it to your enterprise customers who will kick it around for a year, and then may or may not deploy it. At which time the cloud has already revved four times at least.

I don't know whether IBM will ever do a Verse on premises, available to the general public. Have you been able to get the Outlook 2013 access, that has been deployed at some IBM customers for quite a while? And that now runs into changes done to Outlook 2016?

Everything that IBM does with Domino smells of cloud.

Volker Weber, 2015-11-25 18:48

I would not expect a Verse on premise announcement at Connect. Latest I have heard about its release was "late 2016". Haven't they announced it for late 2015 at ConnectED?

There have been some small announcements about something to be delivered soon, probably with a new fix pack (Lucene, JDK 1.8, external view indexes etc.). This might be the Domino "Next" of these slides. See also this discussion:

Oliver Regelmann, 2015-11-25 22:43

How about we just say that Notes/Domino is in maintenance mode? It gets the job done for existing customers and they do patch security exploits when they pop up.

Bruce Elgort, 2015-11-25 22:49

You have to wait for the keyword "strategic" being uttered.

Volker Weber, 2015-11-25 22:50

Bonus question: What's the future of my Office documents?

What's the problem with Connections, Verse, Watson and various other great technologies and solutions IBM is showing these days being the future of Notes and Domino?

I my world Notes only needs two things:
1.) make the Browser Plugin (or whatever it may be called whenever) work on at least iPads. Yes, I'd happily look at some ugly looking apps (that I made look ugly) as long as I can halfway (I'm not asking for wonders) interact with them on on iPad. Just don't blame IBM for too small fonts, buttons etc.
2.) a modern browser in the rich client that keeps up with all the bells and whistles needed for state-of-the-art webdev.

Those two things would help transition between XPages/Portal apps/MS technology/anything browser used from within the rich client for those who want to, and mobile use on iPads, flanked with whatever companies make available through browser clients.

And if 1.) can't work (I'm not smart enough to tell), then 2.) should suffice. It's up to companies whether they innovate using XPages, Bluemix, Portal, Connections, Sharepoint etc.

Somehow the Excelsheet I created 1990 doesn't look any better in Office 365 - my bad. Oh, and my animated fireplace GIF doesn't look better in a modern browser.

Things may be taking longer than one would wish. I've seen real world implementations of Watson, though, that go far beyond "talking to a phone" or "mere programming-like machine learning". I've seen IBM come up with some really good looking, exciting and nicely working stuff recently.

So, what's the future of Microsoft Office and Email? New colors? The next new ribbon? More personal productivity stuff? (oops, Enterprise, anyone?)

Tell me about all the innovation around Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook and such in the last and next 5 years that made/will make people more productive.

What customers want more and more is stuff to work on tablets and smartphones, plus "get rid of anything that's holding them back". Notes isn't holding anyone back. It's email per se, workload, complexity, consumeration, speed of market developments, technological development, increasing number of new devices and many other things.

Funny how customers who "won't ever go cloud" suddenly go Office 365 - so, is that Office 365 in the cloud? Or is it run on premises? Or is it actually just a different licensing model? Smart how Microsoft names all of it Office 365 - the license, the being in the cloud, on premises functionality, too?

Maybe IBM should just call all their stuff IBM. Everyone would know IBM, and everyone would have it. Everyone else must then have it, too.

You can spend four years to make a switch or spend four years innovating what you have (yes, that may well mean replacing some old Notes apps with some good new stuff - whether with IBM technology or elsewhere).

Florian Vogler, 2015-11-25 22:59

Well, if mobile and browser access is what people are looking for these days, then i guess, it's fair to say, that IBM is delivering enhancements in these areas quite frequently and doesn't wait until the "next release".

Erik Schwalb, 2015-11-25 23:29

Sorry, etwas Off-Topic, aber die Diskussion hat mir einen Impuls gegeben: Auf die weitere Notes-Lizenzverlängerung verzichte ich jetzt mal für meinen "Betrieb". Dann kann ich einer Migration auch nicht mehr ewig aus dem Weg gehen und muss mich nicht mehr täglich über Notes auf dem Mac ärgern. Manchmal brauch man so einen Anstoss. Danke.

Peter Meuser, 2015-11-25 23:32

I spoke to an exec at IBM two years ago. There were plans to move the internal browser from FireFoxESR to Blink. I think IBM's development in Verse for Chrome shows this to be a very real possibility. If they can deliver IBM Verse offline via a new Notes client maybe they will have something. They can finally drop all backwards compatibility bs that has been keeping them back. Backwards compatibility being maintained by the IBM Client Browser Access Notes plugin thing that will certainly change its name again.

The Verse component is confirmed to be using an OSGI plugin to the Domino server so that part is Domino. Since its an OSGI plugin it could run locally on a machine using the Client similar to running xpinc. But the search is not Domino and uses another server. The engineering team is thinking of delivering an appliance via a VM; I really like this idea.

As far as the future of Domino, We all know it's bleak. The product will continue to change and evolve as long as IBM is a company, they will offer this product to their customers which will become fewer and fewer. Expect more activesync based access, more REST, less proprietary access. But do not expect this ship to get turned around.

Pat Sawyer, 2015-11-26 00:36

It's interesting to read most comments are people treating Notes/Domino as mail. If you were just using Notes/Domino for mail, then yep, you should probably switch.

Carl Tyler, 2015-11-26 05:34

Carl, the companies I am dealing with struggle hard to get rid off their many classic Notes apps. They never moved over to XPages. I know - this is all THEIR fault. They just do not see this wonderful solution (fewer and fewer people care of).

Peter Meuser, 2015-11-26 07:36

It is so sad. Our user like the possibilities we can provide with the notes client which are pretty impossible to do in a browser client. For example how can i provide global key listeners in a browser client? We use them for our CTI App in Notes. You can simply press STRG+F12 no matter which application has the focus and get a dialog to select a telephone number to dial. Very easy to do in Notes, but pretty impossible in a browser only application. Or how to do Popups in the system tray to signal incoming calls? And this is only two examples for features we have today in the rich client for which i have no idea how to do this in a browser environment.

Ralf M Petter, 2015-11-26 08:24

according to this roadmap who will invest more in notes/Domino? or IBM-Software?
I do not know anyone !!!

Christian Sadeghi, 2015-11-26 09:09

My concerns go deeper than just N/D and its future. Verse has been called a saviour for IBMs email business and it could have been huge, if IBM would have been able to keep up the pace of excitement and announced features as well as the on-prem version.
The reluctance of many companies to move to the cloud was underestimated or, and that's my concern, it was never intended or possible (budgetwise, not technological) to deliver on prem and to keep the customers on an IBM platform. This ongoing demise made it clear to a lot of customers that they HAD to move somewhere safe. That's what I'm seeing in our customer base. Apps will stay, they will run with little maintenance for the next years to come. Even cloud offerings are valid options now (if I have to move why not ?) - but one decision is a clear pattern - customers move away from IBM. Some because of the product, some because they doubt the companies ability to sustain. And that's a really bad sign.

Heiko Voigt, 2015-11-26 09:50

Very true Heiko but I think it is more a good sign that customers seem to not accept IBM's "charge for nothing" approach anymore.

Henning Heinz, 2015-11-26 11:10

On premises maintenance customers are getting fleeced. My guess is on-premises Verse with ship along with Notes 10.

Adam Osborne, 2015-11-26 11:45

I have discussed this with a few industry insiders in March of this year. The consensus was that nobody will ever deploy Verse on premises. Too many moving parts.

Volker Weber, 2015-11-26 11:50

@Carl Tyler: This is no longer the question! They first move mail (calendar, tasks & contacts / rooms & resources). All things behind that will took some time, but it will be done ...

Andreas Weinreich, 2015-11-26 12:24

"Too many moving parts." I think that's one big part of the problem. Every IBM solution is overly complex, look at a Sametime infrastructure for example, or their attempt to try to put all the new SSL/TLS stuff into the IBM HTTP Server instead of Domino, or Traveler certificate authentication which requires Mobile Connect for LTPA token creation if you want a reverse proxy in front of your Traveler servers, or Connections, or Verse... It seems IBM designs architectures for 2 target environments: Fortune 500 companies with a huge number of seats, huge IT staff and all the experts needed to keep all the parts moving in an on prem environment, and their own cloud platform for all the remaining customers.
This complexity might be required to allow everything to scale out well and handle massive workloads, but small / medium sized businesses with a small datacenter and a handful of admins with the demand for simple, elegant, appliance-like solutions that just work are obviously not a part of this strategy. Solutions like Domino...

Carsten Lührmann, 2015-11-26 13:54

@Volker: besides running a Connections/Sametime/Domino Infrastructure on prem which can be daunting - what more moving parts does IBM Verse add to this Combo ? Am I missing something besides Lucene/Solr and the "we-will-all-be-happy-with-Watson" promise that's not even available in the cloud yet ? It's "only" an HTML5/REST based mail client after all, ah new interface in most cases... .

Heiko Voigt, 2015-11-26 14:54

@Florian "what's the future of Microsoft Office and Email? New colors? The next new ribbon? More personal productivity stuff? (oops, Enterprise, anyone?)"

Have you followed Microsoft in the last year? Delve, Sway, Planner, GigJam. Amazing advances in OneNote. Acquiring Accompli, Sunrise, Wunderlist, VoloMetrix. Releasing Word, PPT and Excel for iPads. Microsoft Garage releasing OfficeLens, OfficeMix, Social Share, Invite, Collaborate, InstaNote, Send, Snip.

Microsoft is killing it in personal productivity and team collaboration.

Do they have issues? Absolutely. But dont discount the tremendous strides they are making.... Because customers certainly are not.

Alan Lepofsky, 2015-11-26 17:45

Thanks, Alan. This discussion is getting more interesting with each post. It really helps to have more than one vantage point.

Volker Weber, 2015-11-26 18:02

Alan, on the first view, the new "work" of Microsoft seems to be amazing. Then you try to integrate some stuff in a typical enterprise environment (in Germany):

1. OneNote Touch lacks most of the amazing functions.OneNote 2016 (with all the amazing features) does not doing very well on a Surface (even with a pen!)

2. Accompli, now Outlook on iOS does not care a lot about enterprise security.

3. Office Mobile apps for iOS can only be managed with Intune, because MS does not care about existing standards like Managed App Config that would allow other EMM vendors to integrate the apps

4. OfficeLens works amazing if you don't care about your documents processed in the cloud...

... (should I continue with the progress with Windows 10/Mobile?)

Peter Meuser, 2015-11-26 18:24

You're welcome Volker. One of the first things I learned in the analyst world was to remove any biases and be open to change.

Alan Lepofsky, 2015-11-26 18:29

Alan, well said. Works even if you are not an analyst ;-)

Armin Auth, 2015-11-26 18:53

@Thomas Duff,

IBM Cloud Connection is the same as other Cloud solutions. Frequent new features released on a monthly or so basis.

Michael Kobrowski, 2015-11-26 18:54

Armin, Alan was paid by IBM to have a bias. Now he is paid to not have a bias. Unless his findings disagree with IBM management. Then he still gets paid but they get angry. :-)

Volker Weber, 2015-11-26 19:00

Volker, I still remember Alan being the alter ego of Ed ;-)

Armin Auth, 2015-11-26 19:52

@Alan, my post was not about bias, but about comparing apples with apples.
You list many things that are outside of office and outlook.
I asked about the innovation of just office and outlook.
There are many things IBM has to offer beyond - or just like MS as an extension to - Notes and Domino.
In the MS world it's all just innovation, in the IBM world it's considered "not notes / domino" - I think that's biased.
I agree MS has some exciting stuff - just like IBM does. However most people and companies seem to look for something that allows them to produce more and more documents and feel productive. Productive does not mean producing as much as you can. To me it means making the most out of what you have. Haven't seen that in a while, neither from IBM customers, nor from MS customers.

Florian Vogler, 2015-11-26 20:06

LOL. Exactly Volker. But I'll give IBM credit, they are asking and are respectful of my feedback, so at least they are trying to improve.

Alan Lepofsky, 2015-11-26 21:40

So let's get back to the topic - what's the future for N/D ? Notes - not so much of a future. Domino will exist as long as its needed for existing customers and as a cheap backbone for Verse. So a while, with updates and a few new tricks. New features for app developers is already outsourced to OpenNTF. So can you build on this platform for the future ? Go figure for yourself.

Heiko Voigt, 2015-11-27 09:48

@Alan this means it is you telling them to go twards what some folks think of a cloud first on premisse never strategy that complete ignores our beloved native Client? - Right. NOW we know whom to really blame :-) (Glad you are still around and aktive - and not doing visible investments in none mail client part of the native clients does damage).

Bernfried Geiger, 2015-11-27 09:55

Hi @Bernfried. Yes, I'll still around covering the collaboration market. It's a really exciting time as many companies are just now (yes 20 years late) starting to understand the benefits of collaboration platforms. I focus a lot on the next generation software at the intersection of social tools and AI.

Alan Lepofsky, 2015-11-27 15:29

Given what LDC are doing with new javascript frameworks and the likes of MongoDb, I see a huge market opening up for those customers who won't move to xPages and don't have a future with IBM.

I can see LDC, Panagenda delivering that solution (if they're not already doing so).

---* Bill

Bill Buchan, 2015-11-30 05:00

Being on the side of messaging migrations between both Microsoft and IBM, what I see is massive differentiation in marketing and aggressive sales tactics. Microsoft is actively pursing existing Domino shops to move mail to Office 365. I do not see this in the opposite direction. My humble opinion is this.

For a very long time, IBM and Lotus Notes/Domino was the platform to move to. Be it ccMail, Groupwise, Exchange, IMAP, Lotus Notes offered so much more than just a messaging platform. The whole idea of Lotus was so fantastic that IBM wanted that piece of the pie. For a few years IBM left Lotus alone to be a stand alone part of the business. Next they were transformed from “Yellow” to “Blue” and that started the demise of Domino.

When Lotus managed it’s own sales staff, they knew how to sell this platform and knew how to position messaging coupled with Rapid Application Development. Once IBM acquired and started to sell Lotus/Domino, well the sales staff were not solely focused on messaging. "If I can’t replace the ERP with a new iSeries AS/400, the Windows servers with AIX servers, why would I pursue a messaging only sale? From a cost of sales perspective, messaging alone is not profitable."

Microsoft saw this and they honestly embraced this. Microsoft has managed to swing almost all of the Banking industry to move to Exchange. Microsoft launched BPOS and subsequently Office 365 to provide Messaging as a service. IBM tried to follow with Smart Cloud, however having seen both, and what can be done from an administration perspective, I have a whole more control as an Exchange Admin on Office 365 than I do as a Domino Admin with IBM Smart Cloud. This is a practical example. Office 365 gives me almost full control of the user objects in the cloud to manage, service, fix, and control my messaging system than I can ever hope to have with IBM Smart Cloud.

I could build a very long and pointed response to a number of objects surrounding differences between clients. If IBM wants to regain the market share that they are actively bleeding, they need to dedicate account executives to messaging. Otherwise the IBM Blue will continue to loose to Microsoft. The numbers leaving Domino are in fact staggering; I see it on a daily basis.

Perry Hiltz, 2015-12-01 14:38

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