Whither IBM Part 2: Is Domino being silently killed?

No more NotesLast week there was an online presentation co-hosted by TeamStudio and TLCC where IBM presented their roadmap for IBM Notes/Domino.

I didn’t listen to the whole thing, I skipped some parts, because I could basically read the slides. In addition, they didn’t present anything new that they didn’t present at IBM Connect 2016. Nothing! Except one thing: You can now also use Outlook 2016 with Domino. Yay…

To paraphrase a friend of mine in the Domino community: “They are killing it, man.” And I find it hard to argue against that. For the past three years, I’ve been telling people who said that Xpages was going to save Domino that they were wrong. And this latest roadmap (which is the same as it was in January in Orlando) makes me ask: Is IBM interested in saving Domino?

Now, the Notes client was never going to be saved. We all knew that, even if IBM never comes right out and say it. But when it comes to email, they want you to start using IBM Verse or they actually want you to start using Outlook. In a world where people want to run light clients and use handheld devices, a huge bloated client is not the way to go, so I’m not really complaining about that. But the seemingly lack of commitment to the Domino platform is glaring.

It’s time to start delivering on your promises when it comes to Domino, IBM. But what’s happening is just one slow and drawn out torturing of a dying beast. If you’re not dedicated to the platform, at least come out and say it. “It will happen at Connect 2017,” they say. What will happen? That you will say the exact same things you said at Connect 2016? And the Java version running on the platform now isn’t just outdated. It’s a sediment on the bottom of the ocean which still hasn’t turned into black gold, and never will. We have been promised a Java update for a year now, and it still hasn’t arrived. Neither has any of the other stuff they promised.

One of the things that makes me want to say that “this is it, folks,” is the way IBM now lets you use Outlook with Domino. What’s basically happening is that IBM is saying: Connect Outlook to Domino, have the entire .nsf mail file downloaded to an Outlooks .pst file and then you can just move that pst file onto an Exchange server or up into the Office 365 cloud. They are even eliminating the need for a huge migration project, like a move from Notes to Outlook used to be.

My employer is, like 99% of the rest of the world, using Office 365. Mail is a part of the Office license, which basically means we are currently paying for two different mail platforms. In a time where we are struggling financially (I’m currently made 50% redundant), and we have to cut costs, what do you think we are going to choose? Staying on a platform where the company making it won’t make a commitment? Or go with the company which is constantly developing and refreshing their platform, and also makes integration and single sign on between all their products a default functionality?

Domino will remain in my company as an application server, because we are still running lots of Notes applications. However, we are currently webifying them and using anything but IBM technology to do so, apart from the nsf files which, for the time being, still will be on Domino.

Oh, well. See for yourself, and tell me if I’m wrong:

And here are the slides:

29 thoughts on “Whither IBM Part 2: Is Domino being silently killed?”

  1. Hejsan Hogne, not investing in the product means in this business silently killing it. You are right. Especially if you compare with other IBM offerings it is amazing the product still stands but it won’t last ofcourse. Good news for your company it is not that complicated at all to migrate your data from Notes to e.g. Cloudant. Probably you have already formatted your Notes documents to JSON data when you read it in, so from moving away from Notes you will only benefit in performance.

  2. Guys, IBM is not really communicating well for one more time. As we had Ed Bril talking at an IBM Partner Meeting in Germany, he already announced that the AppDev story would probably slip to Connect 2017. I don’t know if there is an offical statement in writing, but at least for some of us this part of the presentation wasn’t a surprise. Anyhow this particular presentation last week was announced differently and the content was mostly re-iterated stuff from other presentations before. I don’t know who decided to set this up, but it did more bad than good as one can see in discussions like this. There was a piece of gold in there though that I’d like to point out – Martin Donally mentioned Java 8 as the base for new eclipse versions and more modern tooling for DDE. Again, no comitment and no timetable, but that would be a big step forward and at least for me highly appreciated. But lest we forget – it’s all about delivery. If stuff like that comes by the end of next year, it will be too late. Mind you, we are still waiting for the Watson part in Verse. For how long now ?

    1. This is not the same roadmap from Jan. We are investing in Notes and Domino. We will have Verse on Prem (which runs on Notes and Domino) released next month. We are releasing all of the features that were planned for 9.0.2 in Feature packs in a more agile and incremental cadence. Java 8 will be part of the feature pack 8 that is planned for 1Q2017. We are working on modernizing the application side of of the platform and will have more detailed announcements in Feb 2017 at Connect 2017. Not sure what presentation you were listing to, but this was all covered in detail. Please email me if you have additional questions or need further clarification. barry_rosen@us.ibm.com

      1. Hi, Barry. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I truly appreciate it.

        I apologise if I wrote something that’s wrong, but after seeing the presentation from last week, I read several other blog postings (the author of one of them have commented on this blog posting) before writing my own, and they pretty much say the same things that I do. Actually, they were more straight forward than me and said flat out that IBM is killing Domino. I’m asking whether this is the case or not.

        It might not be the exact same roadmap, but a lot of the same things were promised, and they were promised during 2016. The Outlook functionality and support for nested folders in the IBM Connections plugin are the only things I know that has been delivered.

        Upgrade to Java 8 was announced at IBM Connect 2016 (or maybe it was in another presentation I attended during the spring, I might get events mixed) and this is something that has been on the wanted list for developers for a long time. It was promised to be delivered in 2016, but so far it hasn’t happened. The old Java version is seriously holding the development platform back, and while it’s good that this upgrade will happen, it should have happened a long time ago.

        IBM Verse on prem next month is good news, but I fear that all the stuff that you will release in future feature packs are a bit late. I’m happy to be proven wrong.

    2. I find it very unlikely that there has not been communication within IBM about the content before the webinar. If I take LinkedIn Ed Brill is leading the product management within ICS, Uffe Sorensen directing ICS in EMEA and Barry Rosen member of the management team for ICS.

      And IBM has so much great product offerings to collaborate so this webinar was never discussed between these 3 guys? How long ago was this webinar announced again?

      The commentary is mainly on application development. IBM has been very sparingly on this topic the last years.

  3. “Domino will remain in my company as an application server, because we are still running lots of Notes applications. However, we are currently webifying them and using anything but IBM technology to do so, apart from the nsf files which, for the time being, still will be on Domino.”

    I am really intrigued by this last paragraph. Would you please share with us, perhaps in another blog post, which way you are going with your web development?

    1. Hi, Csaba. Mark Leusink is the lead developer on that project. He did a presentation at the ISBG meeting in Oslo last year. You can see that here -> http://www.isbg.org/lsbg/cmsmm.nsf/lupgraphics/ISBG%202016%20Modernizing%20with%20AngularJS.pdf/$file/ISBG%202016%20Modernizing%20with%20AngularJS.pdf

      As you can see we only use Domino in the backend. All front end, GUI and web functionality is Angular. I hope you can find something useful in that presentation. Mark also did a presentation for this at UKLUG this year. I might have been updated with more information.

      Good idea about a blog posting. I might do that when we’ve gotten a bit further on the project.

  4. Agree!

    Just right now I am struggling with a problem related to SSL, Java and the size of keys…. I am connecting to a web service running on HTTPS and they have now installed a new certificate with a 2048 bits key – and my code has started failing. This issue seems to be solved in Java 8 – and just to support your comment about promising a newer Java then Pete Janzen actually promised that at last year’s EngageUG (March 2015) – so much more than a year 😉


    1. Ohhh… don’t let my colleague in charge of security get started on Domino and security encryption and certificates. 🙂

  5. I tend to agree that the content is basically the same as what we saw at Engage and MWLUG. It felt to me like it was more a reaction to the backlash from the Notes & Domino community regarding the growing concern over Notes and Domino than anything new from IBM. It is great to say…this is coming…but really they have been saying that for almost three years now. Putting dates on a timeline is good, but when you have promised before and not delivered you deserve a certain level of skepticism. Something I found interesting was ICAA. That is not new, but the comments about it being treated the same from a licensing point of view as the Notes browser plugin is interesting. If the Notes client were to disappear, ICAA could be used by customers to continue to access Notes client based applications. If you are not familiar with ICAA check out this blog post. http://www.docova.com/icaa-version-of-the-notes-client/

  6. I think the big thing you missed was the change from new versions to Feature Packs. Apparently, there’s considerable overhead in putting out a new release, but very little when rolling out a Feature Pack. So, as Barry noted, the 1Q2017 Feature Pack should include the move to Java 8.

    As I see it, we have support until 2021, but no certainty that there will be IBM-funded development beyond the current roadmap. The one good thing is that OpenNTF has already been doing community development and is part of IBMs plans going forward. So, when IBM stops funding, OpenNTF will likely continue.

    1. There will be nothing for OpenNTF to continue. And look at some of the releases done on OpenNTF. a lot of them has zero downloads several weeks after being published. As much as I applaud OpenNTFs efforts through the years, it really doesn’t matter anymore as long as IBM don’t deliver

  7. There is a lot of concern about Domino. The good news is it’s being “support” and new features are coming in the fomr of Feature Packs. They’ve been talking a lot about Java 8 though I don’t know what the delivery plan for that is yet.

    I think it’s a mistake for them to delay this App Modernization “plan” till Connect in January. I’m not sure what developers would want to even attend at this point to hear the new plan. They should announce the plan now so people going know what to expect. Anyway….

    To me the best thing you can do for the future is focus on how you build your apps. Use Java!! Build yourself a business API. Use pageControllers and get into the MVC approach. This works GREAT in XPages. Where you can start to build REST Services from your data. Then you can work with new frontends like React or Angular or something like that. If you get to that point then you’re no longer trapped. You’ve skill built up your Java usage… and you have control over the back end and front end and can do what you want.

    1. That’s excactly what we are doing in my company. Except we are not using any Xpages. We are using the REST API and Angular.

    2. Hi David – Thanks for the comment (and for everyone on this thread). It’s true I originally committed to have a message on app modernization by end of this year and that it will slip. Part of the reason is that it might involve contractual decisions and there’s no way to pre announce those. We are also looking at a couple of long-sought updates to Domino, perhaps around APIs and data. I spend cycles every day working on this need, trying as Barry said to get value into the feature packs as we continue our investment in Domino.

      1. Hi, Ed! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Much appreciated. Good news about API (and Java of course), but it has been taking too long time. I really hope you will deliver by Connect 2017. As you can see, the congregation is restless 🙂

  8. You are right. The only thing I wanna know why IBM kills Domino ? IBM was the pioneer at workflow by using lotus domino workflow . I was working with domino from 2001 to 2013 but unfortuntly, now the most companies move to Microsoft SharePoint. I can’t find any opportunity with domino at my country and when I discussed that with some friends, I found that they suffer the same issue at them countries.
    So, I forced to move to SharePoint.
    In my point of view and work experience IBM lotus domino was the best. But on the other hand it hasn’t the suitable number of communities like Microsoft do with SharePoint.
    Thank you for sharing this article. Really you told what I wanna say.

  9. Hi all,

    This is Thierry Hubert, former Lotus/IBM director with the Lotus Institute. I started to work with the first version of Notes when at Price Waterhouse. I was involved in its first corporate-wide international deployment way back in 1989. I developed many applications from CRMs, integrated EDMS, and the classic TeamRoom in the early 90s. I have always appreciated the core innovation of this pre-internet platform. It was visionary and easy to build business solutions for anyone who had basic knowledge of spreadsheet-like functions. The seamless integration of mail and applications, paired with an outstanding access control management and replication-based distribution remains to this day innovative. When I left IBM in 2000 to start my own tech company, I continued to find ways to use Notes. The challenge became increasingly inconvenient, and I had to give up the hope that its brilliance could win over the more laborious web applications. Those who have not experienced Lotus Notes are missing the expectation of wiping out in a few hours business applications that are seamlessly integrated, and provide a common UI protocol for rapid adoption.

    Because of Notes I get frustrated with my developers when it takes them days to build Web applications that I could have developed in less than two hours in Notes. They think that I am unreasonable, yet I tell them that I expect technology to serve us with ease capable of delivering solutions based on common simple foundations. But today efficiency is about grabbing code here and there, and depending on developers for application that tech savvy business people used to develop. One interesting impact I measured, when I observe this phenomenon, is that less and business people are involved in building solutions as we did in the 80s and early 90s. In fact the gap is getting greater and the wisdom of possibilities is being pushed away from the users. This is what I never expected to happen because of my experience with Lotus Notes. But then again you don’t know what you don’t know. Nevertheless, it is normal for Notes to fade away in the IBM ecosystem. Collaboration-based applications are heterogeneous, yet integrated. Notes offered a dogmatic model that could not survive the wast amount of fragmented options. Yes democracy means less order and efficiency — and when the necessity reveals itself, I am sure that an equally impressive model to Notes will emerge.

  10. As the offering manager for Notes and Domino, I completely understand the doubt and lack of trust here. Have we been promising 9.0.2 for the last 3 years? Yes. Have we delivered it? No. Please go back and listen the webcast where I explain the new delivery model to finally add the features we have been promising. I realize that these are just words on paper until we actually deliver, but starting in Q12017 we will do just that. Feature Packs, Verse On-Prem and the application modernization strategy(to be discussed in detail at Connect 2017) will show that not only are we committed to supporting N/D through at least 2021, but we are actually investing in it.

    1. i hope it is not too late by then
      we hardly see any Lotus Notes projects and existing ones moving away to SP etc
      you need to advertise and build trust with orgs as well

  11. Agreed, IBM’s commitment to Domino/ Notes seems to be wanting for long. Suggest, if it does indeed wants to kill it then, please do the millions of die hard fans a huge favor, please don’t kill it, rather release it into the wild — open source it …

  12. Warning article(information) which is coming from long time. In my country, Notes development has stop completely and developer has no choice to move in other technology instead of supporting release 4, 5 & 6 support applications. Developer who already spend decade in this technology who don’t have any opportunity to continue in IBM Notes. I do not see any client is ready to spend money on XPage development. I myself developed UI for intranet portal with bootstrap for existing client, However nobody interested to have a look. Finally they moved to SharePoint. I will not miss the rapid applications development of Notes. Hoping for things will change.

    1. IBM needs to sit with CEOs and Sales guys of IT as well as business corps and sell Notes Domino all over again
      else there will be no projects for the devs to work on

    2. Around 2001 when AD was out, most systems used the AD for authentication. Domino? Not only needed a third party to sync the passwods, it meant that you would have two separate systems not necessarily synced all the time. It was a pain in the ass to receive phonecalls just for that issue.
      SSO: a pain in the butt. Has anything changed in latter versions after R5, 6.5, 7.0, 8.5, 9.0?

      On top of that, you had exchange messaging killing it!
      Yet Domino is a great RAD because of ACL.
      Nothing out there manages roles and groups so beautifully. Nowadays with all the issues the government is facing, more than 3 levels of encryption should be standard. The CIA should stay or go back to Domino. I have no doubt about it but if businesses don’t even see the need to encrypt because they are afraid to manage what they should then they deserve to be hacked without remorse.

  13. I believe IBM is spending money on the client and server. IBM still has plenty of customers on the platform. We all know how Notes/Domino cannot be matched for its capabilities.

    Do we all just sit around and whine?
    Do we watch companies drink the MS Kool-Aid and migrate away from notes?

    I say NO! We can demo Notes to new customers. We have openntf.org and we can deliver data to browsers, phones and notes clients. Millions of businesses don’t know about some of the built in features in notes, for example, the encryption. Data security is hotter than white hot! I’ve put some images together to remind folks that we have the easiest to use built-in encryption.


    In the integration space – many companies are victims of data silos, salesforce, shiftboard etc. Today, many companies are paying lots of money to hard code integration with their data silos. We know that domino can integrate web services and local data.

    Imagine if we had a demo site where we could illustrate domino integration with the top 10 data silos, and deliver it to the user nicely wrapped in one interface?

    1. We, the devs n leads, try as much as we can at our level
      What’s necessary is that Project Managers and even more, Sales guys need to be pitched to
      This is where IBM sales can come in – they need to actively reach out from the top, at the CEO, CIO or at least at d Sales guy level at their client companies and so-called business partners who all actively pitch MS tech even to existing Lotus clients
      This is what is wrong and what needs to be remedied

  14. hi…
    reading these posts.. i cant help but rethink my career path again where IBM Notes is going.
    its true everything Domino is being webified. The lightest of which we use is json on jquery on ssjs/csjs.. where obliviously most Domino Notes command and lotuscripts have ported.
    Plus Domino is now just the M part of MVC thru Designer. Going to rhe cloud would require NoSQL in an API where IBM already has those …AAS deployed. Going to BI is already covered by Watson. Going to IOT is also already covered by integrating modules like BlueMix. Email now covered by Verse and getting Social thru Connections..
    So where does IBM Notes and Domino really fit in IBM’s future?
    Maybe making it Free Domino Server and Standatd Client with Sametime can pteserve a longer future given Xpages+SSJS+CSS+HTML+Java capability. Or something Node.js does…

  15. Hi Barry, Internally, IBM did decide to treat domino as a cash cow to pay for connections, verse etc. It does seem bizarre to exchange a profitable product like domino for verse….which makes little or no money, especially since ibm is way behind the competition in this area. I’m only surprised you still have a job in that area, here in Ireland such roles dried up about 4 years ago.

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