by Volker Weber

Richard Jefts, HCL

I am just coming back from a long talk with Richard Jefts, Jason Gary, Andrew Manby and Uffe Sorensen. And what a talk it was. I cannot remember any conversation in the IBM collaboration space that was this honest and open. Zero b/s bingo with workplace of the future, cognitive computing, social business and whatnot. These guys know what they are doing, they know their challenges, they have a plan and they are executing on that plan, while trying to be as transparent as they dare.

I am impressed and I look forward to future discussions.

Who is who? Richard Jefts is the General Manager & Vice President Collaborative Workflow Platforms at HCL. He was previously at IBM, Cisco, Colt, Avid, and Oak. Not a career IBMer but an experienced manager who has been hired by HCL to run this business. Jason Gary is the CTO for this business and I see him as a wild duck who is not afraid to break some glass to move forward. Jason has a long developer history within IBM and he knows both the product from the inside as well as newer technologies that would be benefitial to the product. I met Andrew Manby for the first time and he is currently the Offering Manager at IBM for the Notes/Domino family. Last but not least, Uffe Sorensen, originally from Denmark is responsible for Wordwide Sales. Uffe has been with IBM for 48 years and I seem to have known him forever. Uffe reached out to me and set up this meeting, for which I am very thankful.

What's the plan?

Pay close attention to what HCL is saying. It's all out there. For the next release, there are some things being integrated into the on-premises version that IBM built for the cloud platform. Make it more robust, make it faster, add new interfaces. Then there is some candy like the iPad client that was actually being kicked around for a while but not made into a product. Then start opening up the platform for new ways to develop apps. That is where all the talk about low code is coming from. This needs to be demonstrated much better.

Domino will run in a docker container, so you can deploy it on premises, in your own private cloud or in a public cloud. Next step: componetize Domino into smaller containers so you can run or replace certain tasks. Open source some of this or use open source that is already out there.

And the final goal is to go back to the future. Remember how Notes used to enable line of business people to write "simple forms and views" apps? And then Domino Designer got weighed down until it was this unusable, slow and heavy p/o/s that all developers love to hate. You need much simpler tools to let business users automate.

This is a high risk business. HCL needs to build new trust in the future of the platform. They need to stop the revenue decline. They need to find new customers. Here is how to see them reach the turning point: people start building new applications. These guys are determined to win. Or die trying. I like that.

So why is this "DNUGcomes2me"? I set up camp today at woog.me. Remember, this is my home turf. It's much nicer than the DNUG venue and a short ten minute walk. I will do this again tomorrow. See me from 15:00 hours. I won't be at DNUG, but some of you will meet up with me. I am very interested in your opinion on this story.

cafe am woog

Suggestion: walk up the hill on the red route to Mathildenhöhe. The walkway is on the right side of Darmstadtium. You will cross two small streets. Continue on the left of the big brownstone building. Take a walk around the area when you are at the Russian Chapel. Then walk south from there, down the hill. It's basically a right turn in front of the Russian chapel. As you hit the Jugendherberge, follow the walkway at the Woog lake. This leads you to my basecamp.

If you are in a hurry, take the blue route. But you will miss Mathildenhöhe. Which you should not.


Thank you for sharing those insights! I very much like the story line. Domino running in a container could indeed breathe new life into the platform. I wish IBM had done a proper Domino hosting solution (containers weren't invented back then) 10/15 years ago. As you stated: This is a very high risk game - being all in helps (see Elon Musk). From my point of view one needs to be able to completely hide the fact from a customer that the application is based on Domino. Maybe over time the (in my opinion) tainted Notes/Domino name will regain some of it's glory. Maybe not.
I'm looking forward to what HCL will deliver and I wish the very best of luck!

Markus Dierker, 2018-06-20

I was never in need to hide the origin of a good Notes and Domino application but over the years it got harder to build good Notes and Domino applications with the platform.

At a recent local #Domino2025 event (which was a very pleasant experience by the way) I was sitting next to an existing IBM Notes and Domino customer. I was under the impression that the ones who are coming to this event are the die-hards but just some weeks ago I saw a job advertisement from this company looking for Microsoft (Exchange) experts.

I like the enthusiasm of HCL but I fear that they cannot deliver. And while I have been playing around with Node.js for a year (and do like it) it is still unclear to me why I should use it together with IBM Domino?

While we talk about Node.js. While I like this approach a lot developing good applications in Javascript is really tough. Building something that works in some way is not that complicated. Building something that another developer would like to maintain and extend is art (imho).

Henning Heinz, 2018-06-20

Henning, Jason has been building an alternative Verse client using Node.js with a small team. That project was shot down within IBM before it saw the light of day. But it has shown how easy it was to build a modern web app using the right tools.

And yes, HCL has to demonstrate why you would want to do that.

Can they deliver? You would be amazed what can be accomplished when engineers are not being held back by bean counters and senior vice presidents. IBM was unable to deliver any significant value for six years, because of … shiny new things. There are only four topics that IBM cares about today: Blockchain, Watson, Cloud and Security. The only places for Domino were in Watson and Cloud. And we know where that lead us. Now you have a team that is not being held to those buzzwords.

What is keeping Domino alive? Apps. Even in those shops that are looking for Exchange experts. Mail is easy, apps are not. And we know it is very difficult to replace good Domino apps.

Volker Weber, 2018-06-20

That little project was quite fun. We couldn’t touch the Notes core to integrate NodeJS then, so I wrote an API layer in Eclipse vert.x (that’s reactive programming on the JVM, see vertx.io ) running on the Domino as standalone Java8 app. Boy that was fast already then. Been fond of vert.x and ReactiveX (not to confuse with ReactJS) ever since. Works in most languages.

Stephan H. Wissel, 2018-06-20

I think the nodejs integration could be pivotal to Domino's future, though my bias is more about using Domino as a data store rather than an application server.

It is going to provide the hook to allow non Domino developers to use the Domino data store which gives a lot more options to IT departments when hiring people as well as architecture decisions, I wouldn't consider spinning up a Domino instance for a microservice.

Its the reason why you might consider Domino for future applications rather than just lights on work.

Would it bring in new customers? I don't think so, I think it might sway companies from not dropping Domino and maybe renewing licences.

Its going to be interesting to see what the npm module does / is - my hope is it will provide functionality similar to Google Cloud Firestore - https://firebase.google.com/docs/firestore - if its just a wrapper for the current REST API then that's not going to be good enough.

Mark Barton, 2018-06-21

Our success will be measured in our ability to deliver what we have promised to the market and expand our ecosystem; This will regain your trust. Introducing open frameworks like node and auth features allow our customers to leverage the great workflow and security in Domino while integrating it with other services that were not possible in the past. Hiring skilled resources to manage docker, develop on node and deploy on-prem, or in the cloud will be cheaper and easier for our customers, with a smaller learning curve. We have a lot of work to do, but we are trying to be as transparent and possible with the progress. We've learned the hard way from our competitors that ecosystems matter; plugin, extensions, repos of sample code and partners like you. We hope that our continued innovation to the platform will begin to revitalize the ecosystem. @Markus, we (HCL) announced a cloud service for Domino Apps in May and we have several partners looking to host apps in the service, to your point allowing the partners to highlight or hide that its running in a Domino container.

Stuart McKay, 2018-06-21

IBM/HCL will regain our trust also if v10 will work much much better than 9.0.1 FP10 does. I really ask myself if they tried to install/upgrade/use some Notes clients to FP10... :-( I think they released it only because they had to

Stefano Benassi, 2018-06-22

need your help I am a Lotus domino admin(Exp 6years) having good knowledge of core java, htm,xml ,css, sql , big data, windows server, linux server, now searching job please help

vivek sharma, 2018-06-25

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