Andrew Pollack's Blog

Technology, Family, Entertainment, Politics, and Random Noise

End of one era, start of another - on the same day.

By Andrew Pollack on 10/16/2010 at 09:54 AM EDT

In 1991, one of the first consulting jobs I had was for Chipcom Corporation. I was working with a consulting firm out of Southborough, Mass at the time and they wanted a way to distribution information to their resale chain around the world. The world wide web we think of today wasn't an option in those days. We built a solution using a Lotus Notes server, with an "Octopus" 8 port serial card connected to a bank of modems. The modems allowed partners to connect and replicate using their Lotus Notes version 2 client by dial-up. Partners in Europe, South, and Central America could connect to local telephone numbers and be routed back to the server over an x.25 network. We distributed the initial set of data on 3.5" diskettes in zip format. It was amazing that it worked, but it did work. The solution was called "OnCall". I didn't design OnCall. I just made it work.

Chipcom primarily made token ring equipment, and with the eventual dominance of ethernet, they were bought out by much larger rival 3Com Corporation. My work on OnCall got me a seat at the planning table for a new reseller Portal to be built for Web Browser access by 3Com. The original plan was a big J2EE server based solution but for a variety of reasons it didn't come to pass. It gave me the opportunity to design and build a "temporary" solution called "Partner Access" using Lotus Notes. I didn't design the look and feel of "Partner Access", and I didn't create the content. I just made it work. There have been professional design people to come up with good looking layouts and at least one other pretty good web developer who's added innovation and function to the tools we use. My focus with Partner Access was always the on technical architecture. Initially, the iNotes Web Publisher was used to export Notes documents to html files on disk, but that was quickly replaced with the add-in task for the Notes server code named "Domino". That task became part of the server in version 4.6 and eventually became the name of the server.

The Partner Access project followed me through two employers and eventually my own consulting firm. The project management was originally 3Com itself, and later was outsourced to a former 3Com Employee who started her own firm. I was working on Partner Access the week I announced the birth of my oldest daughter. She's nearly 17 now and was driving me some place when I last had a conference call about Partner Access. Laurie, the former 3Com person who has had her own firm for many years now was on the email list when Ari was born and we're still working together on other projects. Partner Access was recognized twice by IBM for Beacon awards - in 1999 as a finalist for "Best Web Solution" and in 2003 Laurie and I won for "Excellence in Partnering".

A few months back, 3Com was bought out by HP and the size difference between the two firms has pretty much meant that everything 3Com is quickly becoming purely HP. As of yesterday the Partner Access web site was taken down and is no longer available. The site lived through 17 years, sever version upgrades from 4.6 through 7.03. It was moved to new data centers twice -- once across country to new headquarters. The source of group membership and security profile data was changed more than 10 times over the years. More than 150,000 people accessed the site in several languages. The total amount of downtime spread across the years can be measured in just a few hours.

R.I.P. Partner Access -- and welcome what's new. On the same day that Partner Access went away, Laurie and I launched a new portal site for the Community College of Denver. ( http://www.ccd.edu ). It's not as big as Partner Access grew to become, but it's far larger than when that site started. We've had other projects over the years of course, including some surprising "household name" companies. Most of them are private portal sites so I can't share them. Still, there was something interesting about the combined shutdown of PA with the launch of the new CCD last night.

Anyone who tells me that pure "old school" Domino based development doesn't scale, or can't produce compelling sites can eat my shorts -- while we go on producing just those sorts of solutions at a tenth the cost of over complex, self important, "more scaleable" server tools.


There are  - loading -  comments....

re: End of one era, start of another - on the same day.By Bruce Elgort on 10/16/2010 at 12:11 PM EDT
Andrew,

The college site is functional and very well done. Congratulations on the
launch.

Bruce
re: End of one era, start of another - on the same day.By Keith Brooks on 10/17/2010 at 08:13 PM EDT
Nice looking site and easily accessible and as you say, all from within a nsf
file. I like that it comes up with a Notes favicon.


Other Recent Stories...

  1. 05/05/2016Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism?Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism? I read a really insightful post a couple of days ago that suggested the use of social network funding sites like “Go Fund Me” and “Kickstarter” have come about and gained popularity in part because the existing economy in no longer serving its purpose for anyone who isn’t already wealthy. Have the traditional ways to get new ventures funded become closed to all but a few who aren’t already connected to them and so onerous as to make ...... 
  2. 04/20/2016Want to be whitelisted? Here are some sensible rules for web site advertisingAn increasing number of websites are now detecting when users have ad-blocking enabled, and refuse to show content unless you "whitelist" their site (disable your ad-blocking for them). I think that is a fair decision on their part, it's how they pay for the site. However, if you want me (and many others) to white list your site, there are some rules you should follow. If you violate these rules, I won't whitelist your site, I'll just find content elsewhere. 1. The total space taken up by advertisements ...... 
  3. 12/30/2015Fantastic new series on Syfy called “The Expanse” – for people who love traditional science fiction[] “The Expanse” is a new science fiction series being broadcast onthe Syfy channelthis winter. It’s closely based on a series of books by author James S. A. Corey beginning with “Leviathan Wakes”. There are 5 books in the “Expanse” series so far. If you’re a fan of the novels you’ll appreciate how closely the books are followed.TIP: The first five episodes are already available on Syfy.com. If you’re having trouble getting into the characters and plot, use those to get up to speed.The worlds created for ...... 
  4. 10/20/2015My suggestion is to stay away from PayAnywhere(dot)com  
  5. 08/07/2015Here is one for you VMWARE gurus - particularly if you run ESXi without fancy drive arrays 
  6. 08/06/2015The Killer of Orphans (Orphan Documents) 
  7. 06/02/2015Homeopathic Marketing: Traveler on my Android is now calling itself VERSE. Allow me to translate that for the IBM Notes community... 
  8. 03/17/2015A review of British Airways Premium Economy Service – How to destroy customer goodwill all at once 
  9. 02/26/2015There's a bug in how @TextToTime() and @ToTime() process date strings related to international standards and browser settings. 
  10. 01/21/2015Delivering two new presentations at Developer Camp (EntwicklerCamp) 2015 in Germany 
Click here for more articles.....


pen icon Comment Entry
Subject
Your Name
Homepage
*Your Email
* Your email address is required, but not displayed.
 
Your thoughts....
 
Remember Me  

Please wait while your document is saved.