Alan Lepofsky :: Analysis of IBM Notes Domino's Future

by Volker Weber

What do you think?


I have spent quite some years of my professional career with Notes/Domino. Even after 6 years without any project in this area, former clients still ask me, if I can modify applications I have created for them in the past. All these fantastic news around the solution will not change my mind: I will not spent even a minute on it -looking forward, not backwards.

Peter Meuser, 2018-07-23

Forward is Domino 10, my friend :-)

Alex McKnight, 2018-07-23

There are quite some interesting, technical approaches.

Having said that, winning new, big logos (aka reference customers), not the maintenance of existing ones, will proof how the market accepts the changes.

René Winkelmeyer, 2018-07-23

There has been a very positive and tangible change in culture since HCL took over development but I still worry about IBM doing the marketing and product management.

I was surprised when Alan praised the "Idea Jam" as being something new for IBM. We have been there before and found it very frustrating

To be fair the old "ideas" are no longer automatically relevant but they did exist and it was window dressing by IBM.

Product Management is tough. Sometimes you know better than your customers and sometimes they know better than you. In my mind the former is for big strategic changes and the later is for incremental changes.

“If I asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse” – Henry Ford

XPages was a big strategic change that none of us saw coming. You could debate as to whether in hindsight it was the correct choice ( I think it was ) but the important thing is that a choice was made and it extended the life of the brand. XPages was released in 2008 while nodejs was released in 2009 and Opensource was not as accepted as it is today.

These are interesting times. At work we were 95% set to move to .net core but were struggling to find good material on with using it with NoSQL. The node announcement from HCL has caused us to pause so I guess it is working for now.

Part of that pause is linked to node being part of a bigger ecosystem should the nsf not work out for us technically or commercially. For IBM/HCL to be keeping customers because the Domino stack adds value rather than being "locked in" will be much healthier for everyone.

Sean Cull, 2018-07-24

As long IBM has the marketing there will be no step forward. Customers make there decissions in the last years so they go to Office 365, Google and so on. We know that there is no application platform like Domino but at top level management this is nothing they want to hear. And also the "next generation" managers (all these students) only driven by that ...

Andreas Weinreich, 2018-07-24

For my users hardly anything has changed since 2013 in the Notes world.
Yes, HCL does it better than IBM did for the last 10 years. But to be honest IBM hardly did anything for the last 5 years so HCL does have to play catch up with the competition and then even try to move ahead in some areas.

I think they are already struggling with the first while becoming a significant leader in the collaboration space again seems to be a mission impossible.

Most of the talent IBM had in this area now seem to work for HCL. This is great and I do hope that it pays back for HCL and for all customers.

Henning Heinz, 2018-07-24

@Sean, there was also the Lotus Knows IdeaJam from 2009. I'm not sure an "idea jam" is the best thing at this point. Crowdsourcing has not worked in the past for them.

Bruce Elgort, 2018-07-24

Here is what I think:

HCL removed two main inhibitors of progress by pouring in money and assigning management that wants to win. So I believe they are really trying to make a difference.

But there are two major problems: technical debt and momentum. Try as they might, it may be too late.

The portfolio was set on the wrong course as far back as 15 years. Java, WebSphere, Eclipse.

Volker Weber, 2018-07-24

Thanks for the post Vowe, and everyone for the comments. To be clear, while it's great to see improvements on both the IBM and HCL side, there are still a LOT of challenges ahead. That should not take away from the positives that deserve credit where it's due. The IBM marketing team is doing a better job than what's been done in ages. HCL is bringing more enthusiasm, innovation and most importantly code... than we've seen in a decade. However, as I said to Mat Newman this morning (on Facebook) this is not a simple "If they build it customers will come" situation.

Alan Lepofsky, 2018-07-25

Who is going to sell this to customers? IBM has lost the majority of the ICS sellers in the US, and the ones still there are selling Talent solutions or Box because it's what closes quota. I am excited as anyone for the changes HCL is brining, but they aren't putting boots on the ground to sell the product to customers. And, they don't have a suite of tools like Office365 or Google Suite. Mat can only close so many deals. I would love to hear someone address this.

John Head, 2018-07-25

I was at the HCL Factory Tour in Chelmsford and I am very impressed by the dedication of the HCL developers. They haven't even lost their smile in a confrontation with impatient Germans (the big chunk of innovation has led us to want even more) :)

If anyone wants to read more about it, I liked Andrew Magermann's blog post:

Nina Wittich, 2018-07-25

John hits the nail on the head (sorry).

The can-do attitude and removal of certain impediments to develop the product sound great, and I don't doubt HCL's ability to deliver. The issue is who's buying, and, more to the point, who's selling?

Ben Poole, 2018-07-25

The VW Käfer / Beetle was since its developing in the pre war era 1939 over the time completely "reenginereed" except less than a handfull parts in a time long before exhaustion regulations. It had been produced in Mexico until the beginning of the 21th century. But VW still maintained that car and ist developement long after the introduction of a successor , the VW GOLF...

The questions regarding revenues are how many volume contracts they can keep alive (for how many years) and how many new licenses they may could sell and if both of them together are delivering just a PROFIT for all these efforts.

And the next questions will be where in the "Beetle" life cycle that Notes Domino product exactly is cause there might be a time when there is nearly nothing more efficiently to enhance like in the beetle story (or its markets / customers are drifiting away) so they have to jump on a complete new horse that might be called "SETON" - the living client or breathing client.

I like at least the idea and progress or momentum they were able to create by moving to HCL cause many people speak at least about Notes once again in a more positive attitude. The multiplattform thing has almost be one of its core strength but at the same time its weakness, cause I can remember times when they killed the apple client to bring that back later and same for new technologies like multilingual applications or streaming media integration in the late 90ies. Looked great, worked great but the benefit or real world case scenarios had been pretty low / seldom. And it needed a software engineer out of the video business to implement these benefits in apps and a close connection to Irene Greif and her team members to get that done ... out of a DevCon User case in moscone theater to an app useable for a german company - at least the german branches, cause getting the international domino structure on that same level needed for streaming media would have been another nightmare or travelling sales man job visiting every domino server site.

And if I can read about a mobile or ipad client I am wondering again if the will find that right track between useable, efficient and profitable product development and a "eierlegende Wollmichsau" cause that needs cuts like no longer supporting x, y, z platform or technology. An "eierlegende Wollmichsau" is a german saying describing an myth animal that delivers eggs, wool and everything a pig offers.
Lotus Note had gone that way loosing its strengthens and core by delivering a bit of everything that had been hip at that time from web to workflow, from secure to everybody's darling regarding (mobile) clients and if you asked a representative they would have even said to have the best office solution in the house like - who remembers that - lotus smart suite and even lotus components.

I just wanna see the cuts cause it needs strong and maybe uncomfortable cuts even for german customers that the HCL team will lead Notes back to the track of old strength. And to find that right balance is a pretty hard task that even IBM was not able to make for decades except by reducing the budget and let the developers arrange them what and where they will cut.

I still love that notes idea and the efficience things could be done - but unfortunatelly it needed and needs a pretty highly skilled / trained group of project managers, developers, administration, support and end users. And it had always been hard to train these endusers and decision makers who had (meanwhile) become MS App lovers after nearly a decade of being MS haters in the 90ies, when Bill Gates was that icon that nearly everybody had blamed for everything from apple to netscape. So many discussions with endusers why the things had to be done so strange and with IBM reps who tried to tell us that they had the natural right way how the had implemented these features.

Let's hope for "strong cuts" by HCL to turn this thing around into the next iteration and finally to the next generation of collaboration "SETON" like VW did in its development from the finally dead horse beatle to that Golf of 1974 - even riding that in 1974 already dead horse for another 25 years somewhere in the world.

John Görken, 2018-07-25

Having been a Notes fan and promoter for many years, I did not even watch the video (ok, maybe I am ignorant), and here is why: IBM has f*** the product and marketing once already. The big blue giant is unreliable.

To this day, Notes has functionality and flexibility that no other product on this planet has (I'm talking mainly about replication, and there are others).

But a platform (!) - not product - such as Notes/Domino demands longterm reliability by its vendor. Business partners and clients make longterm decisions and investments that require such reliability. Migrations to another platform are painful - and clients have learned their lessons.

Microsoft almost did the same mistake with Office 365 when they were on a warpath to kill on premise versions, but they realized that they would lose that war just in time to make corrections. IBM did not listen for way too many years and missed that point several times. Why would anyone want to put themselves into a vulnerable spot again?

Stefan Heinz, 2018-07-26

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