IBM spent that much money on for that?

Chris Miller shared with us the IBM Notes Domino 9 Social Edition versus Microsoft SharePoint 2013 competitive sales kit. Right, did you read it? I did. In my endless naivety I always hope for a surprise and again, it isn’t happening.

Disclaimer: I think everybody knows by now, that I am a huge fan of Notes. What I am going to tell you now, is not for the faint hearted. I might have understood things wrong and I would feel sorry about it, if I wasn’t so annoyed.

Sorry IBM, but I don’t think, Notes 9 is such a great step forward. Especially when I read the number that IBM spent on the Notes/Domino 9 development (am I allowed to say that loud here? It was a lot, probably a lot more than Ozzy got from Iris). Interestingly, it shouldn’t have been Notes 9. Just 8.5.4 … but due to some legal stuff or whatever!
When I go through the Discover Page on the Notes client, there are few things, which are really new. Many things advertised there, have been around even since Notes 7. Apart from a new look, who isn’t to everybody’s taste, there are few things that really make me go WOW … now let me think … probably coming back later …
IBM claims in this competitive sales kit (aka „battle kit“), Notes 9 is ideal for medium sized companies (100 – 999 Users, in Switzerland that would be 50 to 250, Germany 100 to 500, got that?). Much better than Sharepoint. Wow, that’s news. Who would have expected that IBM will say that loud an clear (irony off … and on again).
First, that’s comparing apples and oranges. Let’s face it, a pretty big percentage of companies use Notes just for mail and Sharepoint just as a glorified file server. They don’t even get the point the kit is talking about. Even where both products share similarity, Notes isn’t one hell of lot better in a way that matters to the CIO who wants Outlook/Sharepoint just because and they are the majority. If they understood Notes, they wouldn’t even bother looking elsewhere. They would be busy finding new exciting problems they could solve in an instant with Notes, just because they can.
There are many points which are true, but do not help. We all know, that Notes/Domino needs less servers, less memory, everything less. But does Cxx care? Not really. The OS choice and hardware is much less important, than you might think. As are technical differences. XPages or .NET? You find a .NET Developer under every stone.

I could go on about every single point in that paper but I think, IBM isn’t addressing the real problem enough. Market perception. There are a whopping 3 points in the presentation that are addressed – old (crap), soon abandoned (bullshit), IBM goes Connections (oh please) – with the same old arguments. It just does not help. It’s been said before, not a secret at all and still they are moving away. IBM, you just do not say it loud enough. To get to that paper, you need an IBM id. While almost everybody can get one, that message should be on the first page of the homepage. Even if legal staff goes bananas (whom you should have bought a one way ticket to Pitcairn years ago).
And then there are the points, that can be turned against Notes. Out of the box WITHOUT Connections (or some social widgets for other products), it isn’t more of a social software than SharePoint. Bang, there you have it. Oh yes, you are entitled to Connections files and profiles if you buy Notes. But oh bugger, suddenly you need a lot more servers than Sharepoint and that just for another glorified file server and an address book, which everybody has already, it’s called Active Directory (please, don’t bother to tell me the difference, I might know that, but the Cxx with the big wallet does not). What, you can run Connections on one server? True, but unfortunately not every company has all that other stuff you need – WebSphere, DB2, IBM installation Manager, Tivoly – already, which apparently needs their own servers. Even if they use DB2, I want to see the face of the SAP DB2 admin, if you ask him, if you can use his environment for some suspicious social stuff. And I don’t even want to talk about the administration costs that could go through the roof.

I don’t know who wrote this, but it must have been somebody who had to make up for something really bad he/she had done. If I was IBM, I would stuff that whole paper in the next round folder and forget about it. Appart from what I said, it is much too technical and anybody who uses it in a presentation will just make the Cxx audience angry. By the way, the layout is amazingly ugly (using OO 3).

I did like the Win Back examples, which prove my point, that if they „get“ Notes, they keep it, except that one:

„Somebody big and important“ returned to Domino 9 (iNotes) deploying xxx,000 users in 2010 for their Messaging solution when the saw the significant improvements in the social capabilities over their current solution.“ Dam, I am three years late.

IBM, you claim Notes/Domino is your – or a – flagship. Flagships are supposed to shine and be shown off in every harbor in the world and not hidden in a half forgotten shipyard to be shown through a telescope to a few lost tourists.

Sorry IBM, why for heavens sake, can’t you just once grab the bull by the horns, get head on with your adversary, leap into action, take the lead*. You are not british with a stiff upper lip and a dignified attitude towards doom. You’r american, loud, proud and convinced to deliver the best. Live up to it.



* Suggestions for other phrases are welcome and will be included in this text.

8 Gedanken zu „IBM spent that much money on for that?“

  1. took me ages to work out what „elf“ was…..:)

    Not one to usually defend IBM, but I think that some of the development dollars were spent on getting the compilers up to 2010 levels. If that is the gateway work needed to rid the world of 32K and 64K limits I think it is money well spent.

  2. I totally aggree with you on the „marketing“ Notes. IBM is not/never going to do that. On the point about IBM Connections you got it all wrong. The server software is free (WebSphere, DB2, Tivoli.) And they are all setup on one server. (VMware) Then you pay per seat. Current Notes users got to use the files and profiles for free( via cleint ). „I could go on about every single point in that paper“ You do have issues and should really think about resolving them. This is not perferct but there are some good point in there to take. Am just sorry that you don´t see them.

    1. Ah, one little missunderstanding here. First, I like Connections. A lot. One hell of a good idea. But, you can also run the whole Sharepoint environement virtualized. It’s not about physical servers. With connections you still have at least 5 different servers plus Domino. What I meant, is that the argument is not correct. You don’t get an easy to use single server environement that covers everything that Sharepoint does with Domino alone. BTW that was Microsofts marketing pitch from the start. I never understood, where they got that idea from. Notes is just different.
      Could you explain a bit more the issues I have? Probably my wife would agree with you here.

  3. What you mean when you say „With connections you still have at least 5 different servers plus Domino“ One Note for Each One?. They recommend That you setup DB2 on different sever (note) if you have users over 1000. We have set up few server on ONE vmware image. That includes all the software to run Connections. On the issue i mention, I did not mean to defend you but reading the above article i feel like no matter what IBM would say, you would find something wrong with it.

    1. Oh common. If you read a bit more from my blog, you’ll find out, that I have defended IBM several times in the past. Even Notes marketing, as long as I thought, it’s a cash cow. But since IBM says it’s a flag ship, it can’t be a cash cow and my argumentation goes down the tube.
      On the technical side, I think we can agree, that you can set up both, the whole shebang of IBM’s collaboration and Microsoft’s solution on one physical machine, while IBM’s solution even in the basic configuration with file services (to make it remotely comparable to SharePoint), needs more different „servers“ (meaning Software, not Hardware) or in other words, different products (Microsoft will stress that point to the max). Regardless of the features. It’s no secret – at least to us – that IBM’s solution goes well beyond anything Microsoft can deliever and IBM’s solution is well ahead in terms of scalability. But the later card you can only play, for a certain size of company. There is certainly a point, where Sharepoint installations become bigger, than IBM’s solutions. Would be nice to know that number, but for many midsize companies, that number is probably to high.

  4. In my opinion Notes is not a mail client, and also not a Social Network client, to become a social client its missing integration to well known social networks (Facebook + LinkedIn to start with + all the others around the world which americans dont know about). Notes is (or should become) an application client, providing offline capabilities and workflow control, mail as an addon feature.
    It would be cool to have a Notes client free of charge for small businesses (<10) users, because this would grow the basis for application developers and those who want to be. When it comes to the server side, Lotus foundations was a great start, wondering why its not possible to do something similar with Domino+Connections, meaning a one-stop-shop for SMB's.

    1. I mean you are right, exactly, but Notes is already an application client but not perceived as one, because the general public just sees email. Notes can do everything you want from it. There are many apps/widgets/plugins that do just that, developed by partners, but I think, there should be more out of the box.
      There is something like Foundations (I love that thing, I am still running one, best desaster recovery ever) with Connections (almost) ready to use, the Connections Hypervisor Edition.
      It’s a start, but unfortunately PVU licensing only (AFIAK), which is beyond reach of most SMBs. Othewise I would have installed that years ago.

  5. I totally agree with you. We are using IBM Connections and Sametime SUT at work, and the complexity of the setup for these systems are mindblowing. There are so many servers and the setup is way too complex.

    Sharepoint is so much easier and quicker to set up, and that’s what CEOs will judge it by. The fact that you have to do a lot of development to make Sharepoint something that has any resemblance to the word useful is something they won’t pay attention to.

    I love Notes (not on Mac, where the client sucks!) but I think Notes and Domino is slowly dying. And when I see old timers from the Domino community say that it should die, I don’t have much hope for the future of the platform.

    Wherever I go, I hear the sentence „we only use it for email and calendar now“ or „we still run Notes, but we will move the email to Outlook and keep the Notes bases for reference, only for those who need them.“

    As for Connections: More third party tool developers need to get into the game to add modules to Connections. This to make it easier to use Connections as the main tool, especially for HR related work.

    And finally: Why the hell is it so hard to administer the Notes client, not to mention getting single signon to work between Windows, Notes, Sametime, Connections and all the plugins that belongs to these products? Sheesh!

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