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I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013

By Andrew Pollack on 12/06/2012 at 02:57 PM EST

This is the first of a series of posts related to IBM, to Notes, to Connections, and to Connect 2013. I hinted the other day that I had a lot to talk about in this space, and this is the first (and most innocuous) in that series of posts.

As I said on FB earlier, I will not be seeing you in Orlando in January. This fall I came to the conclusion that if I was not speaking at Connect 2013, that I would probably not attend. That has come to pass, and even if I were to give the benefit of the doubt to IBM and trust them that the content and conference would be at least as rich as in previous years, the cost of the conference as an attendee on top of the extremely expensive venue was simply not justified for me any longer. Keep in mind that I'm not saying that the conference is not justified for some other people. For my interests, however, those days are gone. Spending several thousand dollars and a week away from home for a warmed over reduction of the content I'm interested in squeezed in next to a ton of razzle-dazzle about a product line I'm not just isn't a sensible approach for me. I'll have more to say about how IBM continues to ruin a good thing with this conference in the next several days.

Let me explain my own reasoning on why this conference just doesn't make sense for me.

First of all, I have absolutely no interest in IBM Connections as a platform. Many people I respect are making good money working with it, but it isn't for me. I believe it is a short sighted and short lived offering, appealing to a solid but temporary market that I would not be doing a positive service for by encouraging the adoption of the platform. Yes, I know there are big analyst firms with reports declaring the future of that market to be larger than the GDP of much of the known world. I remember similar reports about J2EE servers 15 or so years ago. I called B.S. then, and I do so again. Connections is, to me, a very complex solution to a non-problem (with interesting file sharing added on). I believe it appeals to some I.T. managers who have been convinced they need to be "Social" but have no idea what that really means in a tactical sense. By allocating a few virtual servers in their VM cloud to the "Connections" thing from IBM, they can point to a ton of documents and say "Hey, we're social now". Once installed, I believe actual user adoption is generally abysmal (that's the subject of another discussion). There may be some big innovation in "enterprise social" at some point, but this isn't it. I hope with all my heart that I'm never forced to work regularly with a tool that makes me find my stuff amidst a "stream". When I want something I've been working on, I expect it to be where I left it -- not scrolled down into obscurity because some other moron updated the building heating plan and feels the need to tell me about it.

Second, I have little or no desire to be in the business of installing and updating Websphere based products. When I bring Domino based solutions to my customers, I am able to meet their needs quickly and at far lower expense than they expect. When I work with any of the Websphere and Portal based products from IBM I have the opposite experience. Every small thing a customer wants to do turns out to be much more complex and expensive then either they or I expect. Even when you succeed, you fail to really make people happy that way. Let's be serious about this -- the VERY BEST people I know at working with these products are spending tens of hours on every single installation working with IBM support people just to get the most basic functionality working -- and often the different support groups haven't ever seen Connections before and have no idea how it integrates. That's not a work plan, that's hell.

Instead of sitting in (or skipping) a bunch of sessions about products I have no interest in, I'll use the time and funds to select and get educated on another platform that offers me the ability to make my customers happy. If you think you have an idea on what platform that should be, feel free to contact me. I haven't decided yet. My default position right now is go with the .net stack.

Third, I have a pretty good handle on what Domino and Notes can do, and I can pretty much make them do those things without more training. Combine that with the historically decreasing content in that space at this conference, and I may as well sit in the bar. That's not all that fun for someone who doesn't drink much.

While "Notes Social Edition" has some pretty new window dressing, it's biggest claim to fame is being "less obnoxiously ugly than before". That window dressing will fall down, however, as soon as the users open an application that already exists. Sure, there are a few meaty new features even if you exclude the big ones that are really just aimed at driving adoption for Connections from within the client. Those innovations are not going to revive a declining market share, however. The product has all but collapsed under its own excessive weight and is no longer a major factor in the market for new installations. The new version won't reduce the footprint, the workstation load, or the reliability problems and it won't increase the quality or availability of documentation. It won't improve the hopelessly outdated editor, the nearly unusable design tools, or the nearly incomprehensible mish-mash of configuration setting locations and seemingly conflicting settings.

The Domino Server continues to be incredible, under-rated, and better each and every release. The marketplace, however, continues to not care at all. The new version due out soon includes some really important additions, and if anyone was still interested in new deployments of Domino for external facing applications these would be very important. Sadly, that ship has sailed.

The last straw for me involves what I believe to be truly cowardly, unprofessional, and despicable treatment that I've received from IBM. After 20 years or so as a business partner, I no longer have the stomach to put up with it. I don't want to say too much more about that in this blog post as it's still a developing issue. In all likelihood, I'll have much more to say about it later on.


There are  - loading -  comments....

re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Karl-Henry Martinsson on 12/06/2012 at 04:06 PM EST
I will miss seeing you in Orlando, and also miss your presentations on security
(with or without illustrations!).

I hope that your doom-and-gloom about Connect is not how it will be, and that
all the Connections/websphere stuff will be reduced and the Notes/Domino tools
will be highlightened more again. But I fear that you are right, you usually
are.
security lessons..By Andrew Pollack on 12/06/2012 at 05:20 PM EST
Maybe there's some other way I could provide a lesson on security this time
around.... (ok, kidding. Really, I'm kidding.)
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Mark Hughes on 12/06/2012 at 04:07 PM EST
You should use xpages
SadBy David Bailey on 12/06/2012 at 04:10 PM EST
I was hopeful that Partners and IBM would find a way to make Notes/Domino last
for ever.
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Mark Hughes on 12/06/2012 at 04:16 PM EST
figured i would expand a bit

Connections is not an application server, it is a consumption server, it brings
in apps and feeds from apps, it does not run them.

The notes client is dead, outlook didnt kill it, well it kinda started the
bleeding and then XPages came and finished it off.

Xpages is the new development environment, it runs much better in a browser
than inside the client. So what do you use the notes client? For mail only?
Its not a great mail client its ok but not great. So if you have it you will
probably stay with it, licensing it that way is more simple. Or you can get
exchange or another email system and run XPages on a domino server for apps.
Think Utility Express or XWork.
xpages -- terrible IDEBy Andrew Pollack on 12/06/2012 at 04:20 PM EST
I have lots of reasons not to use xpages. It's unstable, the designer is
unusable, it's poorly documented, and frankly the end result is dependent on a
server that the market doesn't want any more.

If you didn't already know so much in Notes / Domino already, would you
seriously say XPAGES would be the way to today when picking something new?
re: xpages -- terrible IDEBy Craig Wiseman on 12/06/2012 at 04:33 PM EST
The only quibble I have is "a server that the market doesn't want any more". I
think that assigns cause to the wrong source.

It's been crystal clear for a couple of years... and pretty evident for 5 years
before that that IBM has no interest in the market where Domino fits well.
Small parts of IBM are very interested in working with Domino, but outside of
the slice that used to be called "Lotus", you get blank stares when Domino is
mentioned.

In many ways it's like the poor Suzuki car salesman at the moment. Everyone
knows you're selling something that, however excellent it may be, has no real
future.
That their jobBy Andrew Pollack on 12/06/2012 at 04:42 PM EST
It's IBM's job to create and sustain market interest. They've failed at that
just like they do everywhere there is any real competition. IBM only succeed
when the offering is so complex as to be a barrier to competition.
re: That their job - Really?By Henning Heinz on 12/06/2012 at 05:04 PM EST
It does not seem to be a problem for IBM. They make lots of money with their
complex stuff. To be honest I don't even see that they tried so imho "failed"
is the wrong term.
re: That their job - Really?By Craig Wiseman on 12/06/2012 at 06:24 PM EST
Not trying does mean you didn't fail.
re: That their job - Really?By Craig Wiseman on 12/06/2012 at 06:25 PM EST
"Not trying doesn't mean you didn't fail."
re: xpages -- terrible IDEBy Bob Balaban on 12/07/2012 at 12:38 PM EST
Agree with Andrew, not only for the usability/doc lameness he mentions. XPages
as a technology is nothing more than just another IBM homegrown, non-standard,
heavyweight technology that requires far more effort to master than the small
incremental benefits will ever justify. But at least it provides code lock-in
to a platform that IBM seems not to care about any longer. Has anyone tried to
port an xpages app to any other JSF framework?
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Karl-Henry Martinsson on 12/06/2012 at 04:21 PM EST
Xpages are slow. Especially in the Notes client, but even in the browser. And I
find it pretty buggy and extremely poorly documented.
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Mark Hughes on 12/06/2012 at 04:48 PM EST
It works great for me, i make great apps for my organization that run really
fast, and i have had lots of contract work from others who cant keep up with
demand from customers. I have also seen lots of great apps others have built.

Sorry it doesn't "work" for you guys, maybe i am an anomaly, but from stats on
blogs, videos and downloads of certain tools and custom controls i don't feel
alone
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Andrew Pollack on 12/06/2012 at 04:57 PM EST
Xpages is the only real way to build new things in Domino. I agree there. But
if you're not on a Domino platform already and committed to it, Xpages isn't
something that would drive you to make that choice.
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Mark Hughes on 12/06/2012 at 07:00 PM EST
Actually a nosql db with great security and a jsf engine is bad ass. Nice open
source languages to write in like java and js and you can use any js library
you want like jquery, custom controls and osgi libraries yeah I would suggest
it.

I met a guy who had a jsf background and was trying to work with domino, with a
little guidance he caught right on and loves the platform and XPages. He has
done .net and some of the others but prefers Xpages.
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Erik Brooks on 12/06/2012 at 08:55 PM EST
"Actually a nosql db with great security and a jsf engine is bad ass."

Yup. I've got a hire - fresh out of college - with a fairly experienced
background: MongoDb/PHP/Ruby/JQuery/lots-of-JS and enough ColdFusion experience
to realize ColdFusion sucks. He spent his first 2 weeks with us learning
(*really* learning) Dojo and then has been hard-and-heavy in with XPages.

He's picking up the platform very well. Just this week he fixed an issue that
was resolved by one elegant line of Dojo code in one of our most complex custom
controls that caused it to mesh brilliantly with IBM's XSP client-side JS file
to do some incredibly awesome stuff.

To quote him: "That one line of code sealed it for me. This platform is
awesome."

After that I explained to him the forward-compatibleness of Domino and IBM's
great support he says "This is a business no-brainer."

@Andrew - "If you didn't already know so much in Notes / Domino already, would
you seriously say XPAGES would be the way to today when picking something new?"

XPages Notes client? Probably not. XPages Domino Browser? Sure. See above.

Have you tried the newer versions of Domino with XPages? It's extremely stable
now, especially with the 8.5.3 GetItemValue() rework (30,000 docs in an array?
NO PROBLEM.)

Of course, if you're trying to do HTTP, Amgr, Router, Update, CalConn and
everything else on a 32-bit machine with 2GB of memory, it might suck. But who
uses that for something new anyway? On 64-bit it rocks.

Designer needs a bit of help still, but it's gone from "travesty" to "usable"
and we're actually seeing good ROI on IBM's side from them moving to the
modular architecture of Eclipse. We've actually gotten HOTFIXES for Designer -
something that never would have happened under Lotus. And they've fixed stuff
that Lotus left broken for a long time. It needs an SSJS debugger, but 8.5.4's
coming with that.

And NSF is actually getting some very serious attention, finally. But that's
another story.

So yeah, a single-file-install server that has a NoSQL db, great security, and
a bunch of crazy-useful stuff built on top of JSF via Java and Dojo is
downright awesome.

Yes, it all downright sucked with 8.5.0, but January 2009 was 4 years ago.
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Erik Brooks on 12/06/2012 at 08:57 PM EST
BTW looks like your blog is stripping PLUS signs.

"XPages Notes client? Probably not. XPages Domino Browser? Sure. See above."

Should be:

"XPages PLUS Notes client? Probably not. XPages PLUS Domino PLUS Browser? Sure.
See above."
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Richard Schwartz on 12/06/2012 at 09:07 PM EST
GetItemValue() rework? Did I miss something? Or am I just forgetting?
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Erik Brooks on 12/06/2012 at 10:22 PM EST
Here you go.... (note that this was written during 8.5.3 beta, but 8.5.3FP3
just shipped and this is in all releases of 8.5.3).

https://www.bleedyellow.com/blogs/erik/entry/8_5_3_getitemvalue_gets_much_better
?lang=en_us
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Richard Schwartz on 12/07/2012 at 07:00 AM EST
Thanks. This explains a few things that I've noticed over the years.
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Mark Hughes on 12/06/2012 at 07:45 PM EST
Can't believe no one challenged me on the notes client is dead comment. I did
some thinking on this and I realize I misspoke. There is not another platform
that does replication and offline support better than the notes client. Notes
SE v9 will be a great release and is the o Lu way to use an xpage offline and
have replication.

I have gotten into a niche of web apps and I sometimes forget how good notes
apps can be.
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Alan Lepofsky on 12/06/2012 at 06:07 PM EST
"Let's be serious about this -- the VERY BEST people I know at working with
these products are spending tens of hours on every single installation working
with IBM support people just to get the most basic functionality working" -
Andrew, that certainly puts things into perspective. Almost every customer I
speak with these days, both large and small, government agencies and regulated
industries is at least looking at cloud based solutions so that they have no
issues with downloading, installing, configuring and maintaining hardware or
software. Yes, "cloud" based solutions are not perfect, but one of their
benefits is eliminating the struggle you mention.
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Richard Moy on 12/06/2012 at 10:46 PM EST
Andrew,

Your thoughts are very similar to mine, though I have some other reasons for
which I will not be attending Lotusphere 2013. I have attended almost all of
the Lotuspheres since 2000 and it sad that I will not be at the 20th
anniversary. I cannot justify to the boss why I should be attending this
January. All our clients are small and mid-size companies and Connections is
not an option. As you said Domino does everything we need. Easy to install,
maintain, and extremely secure.

If you are considering going to .NET for the purpose of doing more consulting
work then that is a consideration. However, if you are considering it to
replace Domino for your applications then I would not suggest it. The
flexibility that Domino provides cannot be matched.

There is always that concern for me of hackers coming in using SQL injection
which happens all the time. I just attended an IBM security seminar recently
and it is scarcely.

XPages is a good solution for developers moving from standard Notes development
to the Web. However, I have many issue with it and developed my own technology
and framework for Domino instead that uses standard Web methodologies that can
be easily transported to other application platforms.

If you are looking for something to replace Domino, you might consider
CouchBase or CouchDB instead. However, the security needs to be handled
separately. Domino with it integrated Web and database infrastructure is just
so nice. If you create your own NoSQL data structure like we did you can even
bypass the dreadful 32K limitation. You also might consider marrying Domino
with CouchDB/CouchBase.

If you are interested in presenting more on Domino stuff, please consider MWLUG
or any other LUG conferences. I plan to attend a number of them this year
instead. Still trying to convince my boss that I should be able to go to UKLUG
since I will not be attending Lotusphere 2013. Oh sorry, Connect 2013.
not sure if .net is the solutionBy Stephan H. Wissel on 12/06/2012 at 10:52 PM EST
Did you have a look at the Node.js eco system? It is rapidly growing and serves
both databases close to the Notes mental model (CouchDB, Mongo) as well as
RDBMS.
re: not sure if .net is the solutionBy Richard Moy on 12/06/2012 at 10:53 PM EST
Steve,

Also a good suggestion.
re: not sure if .net is the solutionBy Henning Heinz on 12/07/2012 at 04:33 AM EST
CouchDb is already dead and I see little indication that Couchbase will perform
better in this area. The business model (burning venture capital) is limited.
One of the advantages of Domino is that it has been around for many years and
is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
I am a big fan of the Play Framework but backward compatibility is not one of
its strength.
re: not sure if .net is the solutionBy Andrew Pollack on 12/07/2012 at 07:14 AM EST
I agree completely with your comments about CouchDB and CouchBase - also about
Domino.
re: not sure if .net is the solutionBy Richard Moy on 12/07/2012 at 09:56 AM EST
They seem pretty alive to me. Andrew asked for an alternative and CouchDB and
CouchBase have similarities so they are an easier transition from Domino. I
personally prefer Domino but for large data sets using something like CouchDB,
CouchBase, or MongoDB is better.
re: not sure if .net is the solutionBy Alan Hurt on 12/07/2012 at 09:50 AM EST
I was going to comment on node.js as well; seems to be gaining some traction
and maybe worth investigating
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Vladimir Kocjancic on 12/09/2012 at 06:31 AM EST
I agree with you completely. Hence, I moved form Lotus development to .NET for
good about 2 years ago and never looked back.
Tbh, the only thing I miss is integrated security. It was very very easy to do
a really secure Notes application, while implementing the same in .NET (or PHP
for that matter) can turn into a real nightmare.
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Rob Novak on 12/10/2012 at 01:57 PM EST
How do services partners make money? Services drag. Fixing things, creating
things, getting things working and teaching things. The software complexity and
quality help determine what that mix will be. The sales success of the vendor
determines what the size of that services opportunity will be.

Will IBM be successful selling Connections to the enterprise? Yes. IDC has
published the numbers, IBM is in the lead followed by Jive and Communispace.
That market is nowhere near peaking.

Stepping back from the emotional Domino vs. WebSphere, it's-too-complex,
quality issues discussion, what about this scenario of a large set of
opportunities is bad?
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Andrew Pollack on 12/10/2012 at 02:31 PM EST
I think I made the case above, that I don't buy the forecasts from IDC now just
like I didn't buy them in the late 90's when they made ridiculous predictions
about J2EE.

On top of that, the market for these products is about providing what I
consider "bad" services -- those which will, at best, make things work the way
they should have in the first place after the customer spends a ton more money
and time they expected. It's a very different model that I prefer, which is
to provide solutions which work better than expected at lower pain thresholds
and costs.
re: I am 99% certain that I will not be attending Connect 2013By Craig Wiseman on 12/12/2012 at 09:49 AM EST
It must feel really strange for you, not planning for Lotusphere this time
around. I didn't have the deep involvement you've had over the years and have
only gone since 2001, and when I didn't go last year it was kinda sad.

I don't need to tell you this, as you seem to be very aware of (and comfortable
with) your "place in the universe", but you've helped a lot of folks over the
years become more secure and have fun (my kids crack up every time I wear a
CULT tshirt). Thanks for your time and effort.


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