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In light of Ed's promotion at IBM, I have some questions about how things work there. Maybe you have some too.

By Andrew Pollack on 10/04/2008 at 11:55 PM EDT

As most of you in the Domino blogging community already know, Ed Brill -- long one of the strongest and staunchest supporters of the platform -- has been promoted to Director, End-User Messaging and Collaboration at IBM. That's a big deal.

Its a big deal for Ed, of course, and its a big deal for all of us, as I believe Ed to have been very empathetic to the "right" side of many of the product battles you've seen referenced here and other places. I chose that word carefully, because I don't claim for a minute that he's always been in agreement with me, or with the community at large -- but I know with absolute certainty that he's always at the very least had a solid and real understanding of the reasons behind our positions. I am left though, with some questions about how IBM has set things up. Maybe you know the answers and can enlighten me

1. I understand that Lotus Notes is under the "Messaging and Collaboration" heading, but the Domino server is not. Is this true? If it is true, how is it possible? Isn't it very odd that these aren't considered the same product, yet is seems impossible for IBM to release them in an uncoupled way? Even though we can install a server upgrade and not a client upgrade, or can install a client upgrade and not a server upgrade -- these cannot be released separately so that the work on each can progress until it is most complete. Does this make any sense to anyone?

2. I understand that Sametime and Quick'r are not part of "Messaging and Collaboration". Is this true? If it is true, how is it possible? If Sametime isn't about messaging, and if Quick'r isn't about collaboration, what exactly are they about?

3. Am I right in assuming that the designation "END USER" as a qualifier to "Messaging and Collaboration" is a distinction that specifically removes Websphere and MQSeries from being managed by Ed? If so, is this the reason being given to keep Domino as a server product not included as well?

Ed's success is going to be very very good for the Notes client platform at a time when it really does need that perspective. I hope this is a sign that the rest of IBM is paying more attention to the core product space here.


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re: In light of Ed's promotion at IBM, I have some questions about how things work there. Maybe you have some too.By Ed Brill on 10/05/2008 at 08:03 AM EDT
These are questions definitely worth answering, though it will take more than
just a comment here to do so.

Domino is as much a part of what I worry about as anything else...but my
primiary responsibility is to Notes, Symphony, and the end-user technologies
that are part of the Notes product family. I specifically called out in my
blog entry that I will be working in parallel with teams that own Domino,
Foundations, the app dev story for Notes/Domino/Designer, Protector, and other
areas. Kevin Cavanaugh (my new boss) is responsible for all of those under the
banner of "VP messaging and collaboration".

Sametime is the "Unified Communications" product family and there, Bruce Morse
is Kevin's peer. Quickr and Connections are under VP Jeff Schick.

I'm not sure why you would bring up WebSphere and MQ...they are products from a
whole different division of IBM (WebSphere or interally called application
integration and middleware). Nobody in Bob Picciano's Lotus team has
responsibility for these.

The point of my role is to start to think about Notes and Symphony more purely
from the end-user perspective. Practicality says that we can't release Notes
separate from Domino, but as with Notes 8's composite applications, we can
infuse Notes with capabilities no longer tied to Domino. I would like to do a
lot more of that, both technologically as well as marketing-wise.
re: In light of Ed's promotion at IBM, I have some questions about how things work there. Maybe you have some too.By Tim Tripcony on 10/05/2008 at 09:18 AM EDT
As a preface, belated congratulations, Ed! I can't wait to see the results
produced in your new role by the passion and skills you've always directed to
your existing role. I'd been having a couple of the same thoughts Andrew
expressed, so this is a response to him as well as to you.

I too assumed Domino is not considered an "end user" technology, though XPages
may very well blur that distinction, since they allow truly compelling web
applications to be developed by *using* Domino's strengths rather than by
circumventing them. And of course, as a developer, I'd love to see Domino
Designer decoupled entirely from Notes and from Domino, similar to the
relationship RAD has with the platforms it's intended to be used to develop for.

I found one part of your response intriguing: indeed, the Websphere product
line is entirely separate from the Lotus line - conceptually and, within IBM,
even organizationally distinct. So Websphere has nothing to do with Lotus...
which begs the question (and this is mostly rhetorical), why does that product
line typically enjoy such a prominent place at Lotusphere? Certainly there are
compelling benefits to integrating Notes with Websphere in composite
applications, and other such cross-line interaction, but the same can be said
even of competing technologies. So I'd expect session offerings, OGS topics,
and the like to be "Notes, Domino, Notes, Notes, Sametime, Domino, Sametime,
Domino... oh, by the way, here's how you can integrate all of these with
Websphere, Domino, Notes, Notes, Notes.......". If memory serves, that was true
of last year's OGS (though not the sessions), but I lost track of how many
folks I heard commenting on what a departure that was from recent previous
years. So, and again, this is rhetorical, if Websphere and Lotus are completely
separate, why not have a Lotusphere and a WebsphereSphere, and briefly mention
each at the other, instead of mixing the two?
re: In light of Ed's promotion at IBM, I have some questions about how things work there. Maybe you have some too.By Bob Balaban on 10/05/2008 at 02:12 PM EDT
Portal is still part of Lotus, so far as I know
re: In light of Ed's promotion at IBM, I have some questions about how things work there. Maybe you have some too.By Ed Brill on 10/05/2008 at 07:00 PM EDT
Right, and I think that might be the problem where Tim's perception plays
out... we only only only talk about WebSphere Portal at Lotusphere, not the 50
other products in the WebSphere family.
re: In light of Ed's promotion at IBM, I have some questions about how things work there. Maybe you have some too.By Andrew Pollack on 10/05/2008 at 04:45 PM EDT
Thanks, Ed --

Re: Domino -- I'm of course fine with that. In fact that team has been doing
very well and I don't really have any major concerns about the server. It just
keeps getting consistently better and better. 8.5 is no exception, as it has a
lot to offer.

People like Sametime, and its selling well so I won't go throwing too many
stones at Bruce Morse. My complaints with that team have always centered
around the disrespect shown for the Domino part of its platform. I'd be much
more likely to push it if they didn't hold it so separate from the rest of the
Domino infrastructure, and if they weren't pushing Portal for all the advanced
stuff. My position on Portal is well known, and involves squatting.

Quick'r is a great idea that hasn't met its potential yet, and I just don't get
the value of Connections other than as a place they've stuck Activities for
reasons that fail to make any sense to me. Jeff Schick has a lot to prove in
that space as far as I'm concerned -- though I seriously doubt he cares what I
think of it.

Websphere I bring up for two reasons. First, because Websphere is constantly
being jammed toward my plate by IBM despite its track record of being rejected
by the Domino community time and again no matter how many layers of packaging
(portal, workplace, etc.) are added to it.

MQ is another matter. To me it has absolutely zero to do with anything else in
the entire category around Websphere products, Portal products, Lotus Domino
products, Lotus Notes products, Quicker or Sametime products. If anything, I
think it should be tied to the DB2 world. That's why I was so curious as to
why it gets lumped in with the Websphere stuff (and Domino products as I
recall, but I may be wrong) when it comes to expressing numbers each financial
period. I want to see Lotus Notes & Domino as its own number showing year
over year change, as well as the same data for Websphere and Portal products.
Each other their own, and not burried among the shadow of the massive MQ Series
licensing revenue. Its been a while since I followed this, but I recall
believing when it happened, that Websphere was being counted along with
MQSeries because that would hide the abysmal results in comparison with its
early projections. Next to MQ, what percent could good or poor websphere sales
even show up on the bottom line?

The part you now own, Ed -- the Notes client -- is in the most critical need of
good leadership and a customer advocate with a strong spine and plenty of
internal clout. It is really on an edge of massively renewed success, or over
the cliff style failure. Good luck with that.

One last question: If you own Notes, and someone else owns Domino, who owns
Designer?
re: In light of Ed's promotion at IBM, I have some questions about how things work there. Maybe you have some too.By Ed Brill on 10/05/2008 at 06:59 PM EDT
Andrew, a lot to respond to there. The Lotus brand revenue includes the four
Lotus product families and WebSphere Portal. It doesn't include anything else
from WebSphere brand or MQ or DB2.

As for Notes/Domino revenue, in a press release in July we did in fact specify
that Notes/Domino revenues have been growing year-to-year for the last 15
reported quarters. I've also pointed out in recent presentations that this is
a software number, not built up with services or support revenue.

Last, on Designer, it is part of the application development tools team which
is managed by Angus McIntyre and includes people you know like Pete Janzen.
re: In light of Ed's promotion at IBM, I have some questions about how things work there. Maybe you have some too.By John Head on 10/05/2008 at 07:40 PM EDT
Andrew - The Sametime Gateway and Sametime Advanced are not using Portal ..
they are using WAS and DB2. As far as I can tell, nothing in the sametime brand
has portal anywhere near it.

Quickr for Portal does, as well as Connections.
ok, I suppose.By Andrew Pollack on 10/05/2008 at 08:46 PM EDT
Fair enough. WAS (Websphere Application Server) plus DB2 but no Portal layered
on top for those.

I'm so jaundiced WRT Websphere that I don't really take the time to
differentiate any more. The minute a Lotus product goes to a requirement for
WAS for any functionality at all, I drop it like a bad potato. I've gone into
why that is elsewhere so I will skip it here.
re: In light of Ed's promotion at IBM, I have some questions about how things work there. Maybe you have some too.By Rob Ingram on 10/05/2008 at 11:16 PM EDT
Andrew.

As a former Domino PM and now a Sametime PM I'm rather offended that you think
Sametime team displays 'disrespect shown for the Domino part of its platform'.
This has nothing to do with respect or 'religion'. Its about business
opportunity. First there is not actually one part of Websphere Portal in
Sametime.

Websphere is actually a fast growing application software brand in IBM.
Sametime leverages the Websphere Application Server not Portal) for several
offerings in situations where Domino application server is not the ideal
choice. Sametime is not just IM any more. It is expanding Lotus role into the
Unified Communcations world where we are touching on key telecommmiuncations
infrastructure used by the largest enterprises, We are reaching all
enterprises, many of whom do no use Domino or any Lotus products (sadly).

This is huge market IBM is investing in and we will make the technology
decisions that allow us to expand our reach most most effectively in that
space. Like IBM, its up parters to chose the business they chose to become
engaged in and hope that some will seek out new growth in the broader Sametime
opportunity.
re: In light of Ed's promotion at IBM, I have some questions about how things work there. Maybe you have some too.By Andrew Pollack on 10/06/2008 at 01:08 AM EDT
Hi Rob -

When I say 'disrespect for the platform' it is shorthand for a lot more than
just "religious preference" and it goes back to real product decisions made
long before it was about WAS. Almost since day 1 with Sametime, Domino was a
platform of convenience and the party line from that team was about keeping the
part of it that made it special from being truly tied down to that particular
choice.

One if the biggest and loudest arguments I ever had with anyone at IBM by way
of forums and so on, was with someone (Barbara Bowan, maybe?) on the Sametime
team years back. They had declared that they'd blackboxed the version of
Domino used as a platform for Sametime and that they didn't have any need to
keep up with the releases of Domino, to support the native directory structure,
or to make Sametime behave according to the way acl's and so on worked for the
rest of the product. In fact, they'd only picked Domino as a server platform
"for now" since it had "a set of services we needed all packaged up in one set"
but that in the future they may not use Domino as the base at all.
Essentially, Domino was a choice of convenience and not the intended direction.

I had railed back that "Yes, that's the point. The Domino server provides all
these great services and makes a fantastic platform to build on." I predicted
that Sametime would stay on that platform (I've been right for what, 10 years
so far?); that it would be a mistake to fail to keep the server version in
line and updated along with the Domino server itself (which also proved
correct, though it took several years for Lotus to come back around to this);
and finally, I predicted that trying to build it on J2EE (and thus WAS) was an
utter waste of time as the J2EE platform is massively overpriced, over
complicated, and not well matched to a development team's needs. This was at
that time when the analysts had predicted insanely over the top revenue in both
licenses and services around j2ee and EVERYONE was supposed to be rushing
toward it.

I'll stand by those predictions and arguments today, 10 years or more later.
Sametime on Domino is still an interesting product. The ability to house your
chat and meeting software internally and integrate it with your messaging and
calendaring infrastructure overcomes the commoditization of the market for
those services just enough to make it worth deploying in larger, more security
or compliance conscious companies. The licensing bears that out. The
Advanced Server and Enterprise thing (whatever its called today) have a
reputation as being incredibly expensive to put in place and nearly impossible
to install and manage.

Based on this and more, I'll stand by my statement. As a team, the Sametime
group has continuously not played well in the sandbox with the rest of the
Domino community. I'll expand it to say that recently, they don't seem to be
playing well in the sandbox with themselves. Between Sametime, Sametime
Advanced, Sametime Untie, and that other offering that I can't recall if I'm
under NDA about or not; this is a product line that seems to be in competition
with itself as much as with anyone else, and in a space already crowded with
free or cheap alternatives.

Do we even want to go anywhere near the cost of deploying a Sametime server
tied with telephony through Portal? Can it even be done in a reference case
that doesn't price out at over 100k in hardware and software? All that to
compete with functionality I've already got running in production using free
and open source tools?

As far as WAS being a "fast growing" market segment for IBM and a good business
opportunity for your product team, I couldn't begin to agree less. Its easy to
have high percentage growth in a market your not already saturating. Its quite
another to quote percentages of real companies out there willing to spend the
money for it. The minute you add WAS as a requirement, you exclude based on
price and complexity a very very large number of organizations. Basically, you
exclude the entire SMB world with the exception of some of the manufacturing
supplier companies in the upper mid-west that are forced to levels of I.T.
complexity by the big auto industry requirement for EDI.

J2EE is proof that if you throw enough money and sales presence behind even the
worst strategy you can mature it enough to sell some of it to some people. The
vast majority of what it is good for can be just as easily done on cheap or
free software. The rest serves the sole purpose of making big lock-in license
revenue and massive services revenue for the few big vendors in that space. I
won't treat my customers like that.

Calling it a "religious" choice is to me the same thing as branding those of us
who don't buy the whole "Portal" and "WAS for everything" strategy as a bunch
of "Treehuggers". Its a badge to wear with a great deal of pride, frankly.
re: In light of Ed's promotion at IBM, I have some questions about how things work there. Maybe you have some too.By Rob Ingram on 10/06/2008 at 09:11 AM EDT
If think one of your main points is that WAS based Sametime servers can be
complex for those without those skills (in the same way that Domno or any other
app server can be intimidating to unfamiliar admins). IBM has already taken
steps to address that with simplified installs for Sametime Advanced and
Sametime Gateway. And there are several major initiatives underway to take
this further - more news at Lotusphere.

By the way the IBM IBM Websphere business grew by 19% y2y in 2007 and 20% in Q1
2008. Hardly a saturated business or market.
my point exactly.By Andrew Pollack on 10/06/2008 at 09:29 AM EDT
My point exactly. It's easy to have solid year over year growth when you're
not in a saturated. Second Signal had 900% year over year growth. That
doesn't really mean I can live on just that investment yet.

As long as you keep thinking you can somehow "Wrap" Websphere in some kind of
black box installer and create product that will play in a typical SMB markets,
its going nowhere. Its more layers on more layers on more layers. I may start
calling it 'onionware'.

Wrapping complexity like that in pretty paper doesn't actually make it a less
complex application.
re: In light of Ed's promotion at IBM, I have some questions about how things work there. Maybe you have some too.By Carl Tyler on 10/09/2008 at 10:39 AM EDT
Install is just one aspect of the complexity. The real issues arise when
things go wrong. Your typical Domino/Sametime administrator has no idea where
to look, is it WAS that's failing, is it DB2 is it MQ Series?

IBM needs to do a lot more work educating the Domino/Sametime administrators on
how to manage/handle issues, the install is the easy bit.

IBM also needs to realise that for what most Lotus Domino partners consider SMB
(different to IBMs interpretation) all these extra servers for these basic
services are having an effect on people's commitment to Sametime. We're the
feet on the street, we speak to these SMBs, the one's that IBM hardly
recognizes. Sametime has gone from a nice product that supplies what most SMBs
needed on one server to requiring about 4 for Sametime, Sametime Advanced,
Sametime Gateway, and those 4 servers aren't low spec either, add to that the
added cost of external static IP addresses and the monthly cost for a companies
Sametime infrastructure really starts to grow. These are the issues that
affect real SMBs, you know the 6 million SMBs in the US alone that are below
IBMs radar, this is the space that Microsoft is winning.


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