Genii Weblog

My impressions on the whole portal vs. Notes/Domino

Thu 29 Jan 2004, 09:22 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
On Ed Brill's personal weblog, there is a short post on SearchDomino's article on Comforting the Domino base, but the post is followed by a bunch of comments.  The tone of these is fairly negative, in my opinion, and seem somewhat non-reflective of what I have heard generally here at Lotusphere, at least this year.

Last year, a lot of the "Domino base" people came away from Lotusphere pretty worried.  While we have heard that "Notes is dead" a bunch of times before, it wasn't usually IBM saying it, and no matter what revisionist history IBM is now promoting, IBM was saying it quite clearly.  This changed over the course of the year, particularly in the past six months.  I feel like I was lucky and got a bit of a head start on the message when at the London developer conference a few months ago, and through following blogs and talking to a lot of "connected" people.  Nonetheless, I came to Lotusphere with a bit of trepidation, which was not allayed much by either the Business Development day opening session or the General Opening session - at least not at first.

Look folks, IBM used smoke and mirrors for some of the demos.  Try to act shocked.  They acted like some things were amazing that weren't.  So what demos don't do that.  The really important message, the critical message for most of the scared, which I almost missed through focusing on the picking apart of the details, was what most of the customers seem to take away from the sessions.  This can be expressed in two sentences:

1) Notes/Domino is NOT GOING AWAY!

2) IBM is ready to fight Microsoft to take over the messaging market

With these two ideas in mind, the smoke and mirrors take on a different spin.  Rather than feeling clever because I figured out  that the Notes in the rich client demo used an OLE trick which wouldn't work on Linux, I feel like a schmuck because I didn't catch the message.  IBM is willing to go to almost any lengths to show its commitment to Notes.  Why is that a bad thing again?

So how have the customers responded?  By going to Notes/Domino oriented sessions in droves.  Last year, there was a real hesitation.  If Notes/Domino were going away, should we waste time going to those sessions.  This year, my Notes/Web Coexistence session was packed.  Andrew's Admin client session was packed and is being repeated.  Scott Good's 25 tricks for LotusScript session was packed and overflowed.  Rocky's Extreme LotusScript session was packed.  Tom and Joe's excellent Java for the Domino Developer session was very full, even in the last session before the party for two lesser known (and very short) speakers.

Does all this mean portals and workplace are out the window?  Of course not.  Those sessions are not as well attended because you can't take anything back home to use today.  Still, I heard a lot of people who actually do think portals are a good idea, so long as IBM can tackle the difficult tasks of making them installable and affordable, and making them work on a less than gigantic resource footprint.  Can IBM do that?  Of course, but it is an evolution.

I may sound like I've sipped at the IBM koolaid, but I do genuinely believe, and think most people are starting to believe, that the evolution of Notes is a good thing.  Not always the evolution as IBM would have foreseen it, but the evolution as IBM's customers have driven IBM to see it.  Keep up the pressure, it is working.

Oh yes, and the willingness to fight Microsoft is very well received.  People are sick of being screwed by Microsoft's policies and welcome some feisty competition, because with any luck it will make both companies work harder to provide what customers genuinely want, not just what the marketing department says they want.

Copyright 2004 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

103.1. Alan Lepofsky
(01/29/2004 09:29 AM)

Great write-up Ben. I agree that the general atmosphere this year has been fantastic. I have spent most of my time with customers, so unfortunately I have not attended nearly as many sessions as I wanted to. My development skills are somewhat stuck around early 2000, so I had hoped to attend sessions like Bob's on WebSphere for Domino Developers, Two Short Guys on Java, John's on Notes/MS Office Integration, and yours on Rich Text. Alas, I will have to resort to downloading presentation files. One of the problems with shows like Lotusphere, is that there is actually too many options, and too much information! I'm often surprised at how different individual people's agendas are when I speak to them. Some people follow all the sessions of one type, some another, some try to mix it up. Often some good messages get buried, like Domino on DB2 allowing multiple Domino DBs to be joined in a single view. Domino Designer 7's built in Web Services, and the upcoming Unified Mail portlet for Workplace which will support both Domino-based and Workplace-based mail. Overall, things are incredibly positive within IBM and Lotus, and with our customers and partners. This is the most excited I've been in a long time, and the weather down here certainly does not hurt either!

103.2. Justin Knol
(01/29/2004 02:07 PM)

Well said.

Who was it that said 110 million users can't be wrong :)

103.3. Robert Ibsen Voith
(01/30/2004 12:35 AM)

Heck, I wasn't at Lotusphere this year, beacuse I didn't like the direction I saw last year. Now I know I was wrong! Thanks for good writing Ben!

103.4. Ben Poole
(01/30/2004 04:33 AM)

Good summary Ben, thanks.

RE "25 tricks for lotusscript": was that really Mike Golding?

Wasn't it Scott Good or p'raps Wai Yip? ;-)

103.5. Ben Langhinrichs
(01/30/2004 04:52 AM)

Alan: Yet another person I never managed to catch up with at Lotusphere. I imagine you were quite busy, but it was a shame you missed the Two Short Guys on Java, and even the One Short Guy on LotusScript before them.

Justin and Robert: Thanks!

Ben: It was Scott Good, sorry. That is the problem with disembodied voices. Thanks! I fixed it in the original

103.6. Duffbert
(01/30/2004 06:24 AM)

You know... Joe and I could incorporate Alan into our next presentation and we could still be Team-TSG... "THREE" Short Guys! :-)

103.7. Ben Langhinrichs
(01/30/2004 06:42 AM)

You would have to re-design the thong!

Seriously, I think your presentation was great, but it also tapped into a way of presenting that could extend to other sessions. Like the "for Dummies" books, I could see different sessions such as "Eclipse for Domino Developers" that focused on various topics from the perspective of Domino Developers. Sort of like the jump starts, but with the particular Team-TSG style mixed with a bit of that HeadStart flair. Since you'll practically be required to do the Java for Domino Developers session again next year, maybe you could do a second one as well.

103.8. Duffbert
(01/30/2004 09:04 AM)

That's a very good idea... I have a couple of books (NO!) awaiting review at home that deal with the Eclipse platform. It might be nice to start reading those with a mind towards a potential session. Thanks for the idea.

103.9. vowe
(01/30/2004 02:28 PM)

You did not mention Dummies and Domino Developers in the same sentence on purpose, did you? :-)

103.10. Ben Poole
(01/30/2004 05:28 PM)

Watch it Volker! ;-)