XWork Server … a new era?

Ed announced the XWork Server one day early … probably just because he wanted to be the first! I me, the silly idiot, even asks before posting anything on the 4th, if it is OK, to write about it before they wake up, because of another time zone.
Anyway, let’s look at Ed’s new toy.
Now what about the the fuss? First, it’s an ISV offering. It’s up to you and me (again!) to push it in the market. That’s great news for all the XPages developers out there, who’d like to sell their browser based applications without having to sell Domino. Now you can tell customers that your app is based on an IBM application server. It’s bad news for those who saw marketing money raining down on us, because of the re-branding, but I come to that later.
During the webcast last week, they made the point, that ASL would be a good way to sell it. If you consider ASL, please look at the warranty. All the warranty IBM is giving for the licenses you sold remain with you. Your customer does not get warranty from IBM. You have to provide the warranty for your products AND the XWork server. This sometimes leads to extensive discussions with the legal department of your customer.

Let’s look at a few things I discovered in the F&Q’s:

Q: How is XWork Server licensed?
A: XWork Server uses a fixed term licence and is licensed per install.

Q: What is a fixed term license?
A: A fixed term license offering grants the right to use the software, including Software Maintenance, for a fixed period of time. At the end of the Fixed Term License period the license and its associated Software Maintenance will be automatically extended for another period and the customer will be invoiced for that new period unless they notify IBM or their IBM Business Partner prior to the end of the term of their intent to terminate the license. If they choose to terminate, they will no longer be authorized to use the software and they will lose their entitlement to Software Maintenance.

This is more a subscription modell. If you use it, you pay… $2000 every single year. No more „It works, why would I need maintenance for it!“
… and this answers also the question that came up during the webcast, if IBM will still send our customers the bill 3 month before the end of the licensing term. Yes, they will.
If you use ASL, IBM will come after YOU, if you let slip the date!

Q: Can you give me an example of what constitutes an application?
A: Say you have a product launch application comprised of the following.

  • One database for administrative/configuration
  • One database for marketing content
  • One database for launch tasks
  • One database for workflow logic

    This would constitute one of the four applications per install

Q: What if my application requires more than 4 databases or I want to run more than 4 applications on the XWork Server?
A: You may purchase an additional XWork Server entitlement for that physical server. This means that each application may contain up to 8 databases. It also means means you can have up to 8 applications on that same physical server thus allowing customers to run more applications before purchasing additional hardware.

Q: XWork Server ships with a lot of databases. Which ones count towards the definition of an application?
A: XWork Server ships with numerous databases that can be broken into two categories. Social Business databases deliver business value to individuals or groups of individuals and would count towards the definition of an application. They consist of Teamroom, Discussion, Document Library and Blog. All other databases are defined as system databases and do not count towards the definition of an application. Some examples of a system database are Directory and Log.

I am sure, the whole database/application thing will be a thing of many (probably heated) discussions. If I use a blog and a online shop with 3 databases, is that one or two applications. The blog has technically nothing to do with the CRM, but is part of marketing, because I would very often link to products in may shop. I would use only 4 .nsf, but that would count as 2 applications? IBM, I think that modell is bound to rise blood pressure on many occasions, especially if a customer is just one or two databases over the limit.
Why couldn’t IBM just think simple once in a while.

Q: With XPages, can I access data that resides in an NSF on a Domino server?
A: Yes. XPages allows you bind your controls to data that resides in a separate NSF and that NSF may be on a different Domino server. If that NSF resides on a non-XWork Server, you can access that NSF and
that NSF would not be counted as part of an XWork Server application.

Now that made me smile. I can have 27 databases on different Domino servers, all accessed through one XPages app on a XWorks server. If your customer has already Domino, there is a loop hole. If he hasn’t, how about buying a single Express license and the XWork Server? Unlimited access through the XWork Server but the data of more then 16 nsf on an extra Domino Server, plus the replication.
The silly thing is, if you start looking for loop holes, the licensing modell isn’t a very good one. The more you have to explain the licensing to the customer, the less confidence he has. Look at VMWare, there is a half day course about the licensing. A competitor with an easier licensing modell, has a head start (Collax, hint, hint, sorry, had to do it).

Now the marketing, or rather the lack of it. The offering is for ISV’s. If you’r not an ISV, move on, nothing to see here, really (after having read all the stuff above, thank you). It will not be a new LFD (Lotus Foundations Desaster), because not even IBM thinks, that they will sell many XWork Servers, but it’s a good offering for ISVs and it opens the way into new companies, who hang up on you, if you just say „DOMINO“.
I think, that XWork Server is a shot in the dark, to find out, if the re-branding works. I am pretty much convinced (I have said it before), that „Domino“ and „Notes“ will be gone within 12 month, and I applaude IBM for this. But as I also said before, that IBM has to deliver a completely new product. (from the outside! What user cares if the technology is still Notes, as long as it looks better, has cool new features and is faster, AFIAK Exchange also still runs on Access/Jet). Throwing marketing money at the XWork Server, does not make sense. The next Domino (called XTalk? Naa, that’s taken, XCollaboration, that’s not snappy…) and XWorks Server together will be a more complete offering. Marketing will make sense for the whole product line. But if IBM tells us again, that it is up to us to promote it, it will be a LFD.
If you count on „viral“ marketing, uh oh. That works for cool products from underdogs much better. Apple has this success also because of good marketing and they do lot’s of it. They are here in Switzerland in the top 10 regarding marketing budget and have over 20% market share. Think about it.

„Dear IBM, even though you may believe, that many of your BPs rant and whine, you should realise something: the majority is calm, but will move away without saying a word. Your partner base is shrinking, your customer base is shrinking. If YOU want to stop that, it’s up to YOU!“

Anything else?


2 Gedanken zu „XWork Server … a new era?“

  1. Well, someone has to be the „devil’s advocate“ and I appreciate you sharing these thoughts.

    Not sure why you say this: „not even IBM thinks, that they will sell many XWork Servers“. Actually, I do. Wouldn’t have done it otherwise. And to the point of that paragraph, an end-customer can certainly buy IBM XWork Server through Passport Advantage, it is not sold exclusively through ISVs or OEMs or hosting providers.

    No intentions to change the names of Notes or Domino, by the way, but appreciate the consideration that I am capable of more radical activity like that 🙂

    1. „Devils advocate“ is a bit of a harsh word. Actually I don‘t want to play this role (Nathan Freeman is much better). My intention is not! to provoke. I wouldn‘t write about it, if I wouldn‘t care, but I am too old (and have to many burned fingers), to think everything that comes to the yellow bubble is just great.
      I‘ll tell you, why I don‘t think that IBM will not sell a ton of XWorks Servers, where „ton“ is relative BTW.

      No end user marketing (that‘s a lame one, but it is still true unfortunately). ISV‘s aren‘t very good at bringing a new product to the market. ISV‘s chase after the individual customer. We try to convince one after the other. That takes too long for a new product (LFD!). It would be much easier for everybody, if the initial interest in a new product, does not come from the BP or ISV, but from the guys who build the thing in the first place … you.
      ISV don‘t have an overwhelming pressure, to sell XWork Servers. They don‘t make a lot of money with it. ISVs make much more money with their own products and even more important, with the projects. They don‘t care a lot about the platform it‘s on. They tend to go toward the platform everybody uses or already has.
      The limitations are too big. No replication with other servers. That is a killer in many domino shops. I would use the XWork Server as part of my website. How do I get the data of a potential customer into my internal system? Copy paste? Print and Scan?
      That 4+4 scheme looks extremely arbitrary. It will give ISVs a lot of headache.
      There aren‘t thousands of ISVs with applications that fit. (Yet?)

      The rebranding/renaming of Domino Utility Server 8.5.3 as XWork Server only makes sense, if it is part of a bigger picture. You said before, that IBM hasn‘t decided on the name of Domino Next and it will not be Domino 9. Add those two together and one can only come to the conclusion, that the next major release will have a new name. IBM Domino and IBM Notes does not sound too good anyway and in the end we would still talk about Notes and Domino. Even though people have that rather bad feeling about Lotus, if you don‘t change both names, you will change nothing. That stupid uphill battle we fight will only stop, if the customer has the feeling, he get‘s something completely new. Customer who have seen Notes 5 and hatted it, will not look at Notes NG (or whatever) but at IBM C-Talk (or whatever). Be radical. Go for it (can somebody please bring in the cheerleaders)!

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