Lotusphere and the cynics

I say "cynics" as opposed to the far more palatable "sceptics" (I used to get called cynical at work… I prefer the term "healthy scepticism"!)

In the Domino "blogsphere" there have been some summary articles about Lotusphere. They've been pretty cynical. Like the people who've written these blog entries / articles, I can only go on what I've seen. As someone who — and I should emphasise this — hasn't been at this Lotusphere, I am encouraged. I am far happier about Notes and Domino than I was a year ago. Out of 180-odd sessions, having around 30 that focus on Websphere is hardly over the top. What the hell is wrong with Websphere anyway? OK, so it's a J2EE system that isn't nearly as "quick to react" as Domino, and it costs, but insofar as one can address perceived shortcomings, for once I think IBM have done a good job. Websphere is based on "open standards." It embraces Domino. You get a cut down version with Domino 6. Websphere Studio for Application Developers (WSAD) is shaping up to be a cool IDE, as it should, given its Eclipse underpinnings. And I'm all for playing to Domino's strengths.

But please. Some of the "editorial" I've read is so negative it's just stupid. Take in the presentations. Read what has been said once you get the chance. Then strut. When it comes to Notes and Domino, there's still nothing out there that even nearly competes. Of course IBM need to market Notes and Domino better. There we go. But to liken it to OS/2 (pretty cool too, sadly!) or to continuously bang on about its failings (of which there are many) does a great disservice to the product and the great minds behind it. I should be so lucky to be involved with something as perennially cool as Notes…

Update: That said, I can't help but agree with Mike in his summary. There are indeed some mixed messages coming from IBM, and I don't see how senior management is going to necessarily understand where all this is going. My only issue is that this is a long-term thing, and not just confined to Lotusphere.

All told there are a lot of mixed messages frm [sic] IBM at the moment, it's very confusing for us who closely follow Lotus let alone Mr Manager who only dips his toe in the water from time to time. Our beloved product is being eroded, we have already accepted that, but IBM, can we please have some real direction?

Other reading: jonvon: lotusphere day 2


  1. Ben, I'm not sure if your comments are directed in part at what my immediate reactions were earlier this week - but this is my current thinking:

    I think a lot of Notes/Domino folks feel frustrated that IBM doesn't "get" Domino and the concept of integrated features in one product. I have seen the complexity of IIS/SQLServer/ServicePack/Younameit dependencies and the tricks sometimes needed to get it all to co-operate happily. I think there is some fear that a future Lotus/WebSphere/DB2/Tivoli solution will end up being as ugly and complex as a MS one.

    On the other hand, we have used Notes for so long, and been so used to other "competitors" coming and going that we think Notes is the solution to all problems (dom.doc, pop mail relation dbs). We are in a very comfortable zone and would rather not shift. I think it also depends on what sort of environment you are working in. My current employer has about 100 sites - each with a cluster pair of domino servers, a previous employer has 430 sites with a single Domino box. In each case the comms links are slowish and a local server with replicated data/mail/http is a great solution. Scalability is not an issue, replication, bandwidth and management are. A low-cost mail server supporting >10K users is no use to us - but a "large" US corporation with a campus and T1 links everywhere will presumably love it. It also gives IBM customers a less complex messaging environment if that is waht they want - how many times have you said Notes is wasted if it is just for messaging.

    So - in the end, there will be some Notes/Domino users who will welcome these changes and others for whom these changes move away from what they need. You can't please everyone. We will continue to build classic Notes apps, as we have a full client on each desktop, but will also provide browser access to apps & mail for roaming users and external clients. We also are building servlets and skilling up on the Java/XML front.

    Choices are a good thing.

    Justin Knol#
  2. I appreciate the frustration, I just think that IBM have more of a clue than they did last time around. I think smaller Domino shops are really making their point now, and maybe some of what they're saying is thudding in to the Big Blue's brain, what with the limited ND6 / Websphere bundles and wot-not.

    I also wanted to make the point that there were a lot of sessions aimed at "pure" Notes / Domino stuff. It wasn't all Websphere. So that's cool too.

    And Choices are a good thing: amen to that!

    Ben Poole#

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