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Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product Management

By Andrew Pollack on 01/27/2013 at 06:13 PM EST

If you were a venture capitalist and someone came into your office tomorrow with a web server that could run on a single, fairly standard, Windows or Linux machine and that had a list of capabilities as I’ve described below -- and that was actually stable and functioning right now -- you couldn’t possibly bring yourself to invest in it fast enough.

The simple truth is that there is only one product on the market with even close to this full list of capabilities out of the box in a single install. Certainly not anything else that could be installed on any desktop grade machine if need be in under 30 minutes.

Such a product does exist, and has for quite a few years. Why then, is it not the market leading public web server? Why, in fact, does this web server have so little market share that it doesn’t even register on the December 2012 Netcraft web server survey?

The answer is simple. It is an IBM product. Only IBM could continue, year over year, to so badly miss every opportunity to properly leverage such a technologically powerful product into a market position that can even hit 3% of the global web servers in use. That kind of consistency is amazing. Sadly, it is the only thing consistent about IBM’s product management of the Lotus product line. By switching out general managers like clockwork just about the time they start to understand the product, IBM leaves the decisions effectively in the hands of product managers without sufficient adult supervision. Some of them are very good, very highly skilled people. Others clearly are not. What’s missing is a long term leader who can tell the difference – supporting the good ones, and tossing the bad ones. The good product managers and the bad product managers have to fight on a nearly daily basis for access to the feeding trough of funds and staff to do their work. Even in that turmoil, when left alone, the good ones usually beat the bad ones for resources because frankly they get the job done while the bad ones are floundering. They are not, however, left sufficiently alone for that to happen very often.

Every two years some genius up the chain at IBM decides they have the “NEXT BIG THING”. The ultimate answer to a question no one is asking. They find some people at Gartner or one of the firms to get all excited about it, and the command comes down from on high to build yet another giant, steaming, heap of code on top of a very powerful tool so that the new thing can be supported while it grows. The plan is always to ultimately replace the original product, but these super replacement projects have failed over and over and over. They require tens of thousands of dollars more hardware, tens of thousands of dollars more licenses, hundreds or even thousands of hours of consulting to get running – and then nobody uses them. Eventually they go away, but you know what gets left behind? All those giant, steaming, heaps of code layered on ever thicker to the carcass of a once great product.

What is the point of all this?

The IBM Lotus Domino server continues to lose market share, and the companies that still use it feel increasingly as if they’re the only ones left. Clearly they’re not, but the pool is definitely shrinking. The fault for this lies squarly on the shoulders of the Product Management leaders of the IBM Lotus software team (now the “Collaboration” team). It’s time to see them accept that responsibility instead of quoting carefully word-smithed statements about their market numbers and hiding behind a million reasons why they’re not getting the job done.

Oh. And here’s that web server product spec list I promised… I challenge you to find ANYTHING that will do all these things and can be installed and running in 30 minutes on any common desktop grade PC , Server, or VM.

Just imagine what competent leadership and marketing could do with specs like these!


There are  - loading -  comments....

re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Bruce Lill on 01/27/2013 at 09:00 PM EST
I agree with you. I work with start ups and while MS provides free development
tool and server license, IBM wasn't interested. Why it's not pushed as the
starting point with a possible upgrade to Websphere if needed. They could make
the tools compatible instead it's a dead end where what you learn is not usable
for anything else.
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Julian Buss on 01/28/2013 at 01:43 AM EST
Andrew, all your points are valid, but not new. Everyone in the Yellowbubble
knows that Domino is a very good product (especially XPages although you don't
like them), but unfortunately it simply has one problem: it is too good.

It is to easy to install, to easy to maintain, to easy to write apps for it.
You don't need hundreds of hours of an IBM consultant, you don't need several
servers, you don't need multiple server software packages. And that exactly is
why IBM isn't really interested in Domino getting more market share.

Instead, have a look at Connections - enormous complex piece of software,
installation takes hours or days for installation and needs tons of
instructions and fixes, and you need to spend much money on a consultant.
That's "enterprise"! It's exactly as IBM likes it.

Personally, I don't understand IBM's policy of product manager rotation, too.
But nevertheless, one must admit that IBM is highly successful in terms of
business. So they have to do some things right, but not from our perspective.
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Julian Buss on 01/28/2013 at 01:44 AM EST
sorry, spelling mistakes, it should read:

It is too easy to install, too easy to maintain, too easy to...
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Andrew Pollack on 01/28/2013 at 12:42 PM EST
So you're saying the reason IBM doesn't like it, is because you can't screw
over you customers with it?

There does seem to be evidence of that.
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Patrick Kwinten on 01/28/2013 at 03:16 AM EST
true!

but your message comes to early/late since at IBM they are enjoying the Florida
sunshine at the moment... =)
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Andrew Pollack on 01/28/2013 at 07:35 AM EST
Or maybe just at the time I wanted it there.
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Rudi Knegt on 01/28/2013 at 08:03 AM EST
The main problem is that this is known for 10 years, and each and every IBM-er
which is not from the lotus brand simply does not know what notes is or could
be.
Internaly they should do some serious trainings to master this.

This product is the best, and yes.. Too easy, too good and too much for small
money..
Not enough profitt for IBM is what I guess as well..
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Don Mottolo on 01/28/2013 at 08:19 AM EST
I agree that it is a great product. As you say, IBM is missing out as they let
their marketshare slide as they focus on the new stuff. As I watch the Connect
OGS, they are playing a short film "the man with a turnip for a head".
hmmm....
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Richard Moy on 01/28/2013 at 12:32 PM EST
Andrew,

What you listed is the reason that I am still sticking with Domino rather than
moving our stuff to a different platform. However, I have designed out stuff
so that it can be easily ported to another platform just in case IBM drops
Domino which I do not think will happen. Our customers do not care what the
application server is, only that it works. The new XWork license announced by
Ed Brill is not ideal but will work for us.
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Fredrik Malmborg on 01/28/2013 at 12:59 PM EST
When I travelled from UKLUG 2012 I happend to sit beside an IBM salesperson. He
was very open and it was clear that the salesforce of IBM is very devided and
without any proper strategy that makes sense. One day they are supposed to sell
one thing, and the next day something else. And they do not have a clue about
what alternatives there are inside the portfolio of IBM. They sell products,
not solutions.
Heads up IBM !
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Danny Lawrence on 01/28/2013 at 01:05 PM EST
One more thing that you forgot to mention Andrew, Domino is also a world class,
scalable, highly available, useful email server. I know email servers are a
dime a dozen, but as an additional feature to its webserver capabilities, it
can become the only box a small/medium business would need.
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Andrew Pollack on 01/28/2013 at 01:28 PM EST
It's capable of doing many things in addition to what I mentioned. I was just
comparing it as a web server platform.
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Peter Smith on 01/28/2013 at 01:10 PM EST
Brilliant post, I completely agree
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Chris Toohey on 01/28/2013 at 05:13 PM EST
I think the reasons we do not see LND marketed as an web application server
platform is strategic, and a strategy that's designed to benefit IBM vs. the
customer.
I thought they were "getting it" when they talked about the XWorks offering...
For me, without making Domino natively support OAuth, it doesn't have a shot in
hell at becoming a SaaS platform. Without marketing a customer marketplace
filled with a "nifty 50"-catalog of go-to apps that is available
post-purchase/installation, it doesn't have a shot at the SMB level. (And I'm
talking real world SMB, not IBM's "<50k users?! You're an SMB" idea of what the
SMB market really is...)
And I don't think any individual (or even community) initiatives can triumph
when those ultimately in charge have either a completely different vision (and
motivations), or that they continue to not "get it" when it comes to this
platform.
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Craig Wiseman on 01/28/2013 at 06:19 PM EST
I'm either going write a couple of pages saying what you've said in different
words, or I can just say, "Excellent post".


Excellent post.
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Henning Heinz on 01/29/2013 at 06:34 AM EST
Not that I disagree but IBM never positioned Domino as a public web server.
For IBM Domino probably is an enterprise pim server with some department level
application development capabilities.
For that purpose it did not fail but the product is quite good.
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Andrew Pollack on 01/29/2013 at 07:50 AM EST
That's part of my point, Henning.

IBM has an excellent product and through lack of marketing and advertising
effectively (product positioning is a big part of marketing), as well as
product managers that have utterly failed to get the work done to overcome the
products biggest weakness (the very non-standard, arguably terrible,
administration and development tools). That has left it in the the public
server market as an "also ran" instead of a market leader.
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy Craig Schumann on 02/04/2013 at 06:50 AM EST
My sentiments exactly....
http://blog.innerringsolutions.com/2013/01/14/domino-the-perfect-saas-platform-t
hat-will-never-be/
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy JP Liggett on 02/19/2013 at 09:34 AM EST
UN-attributed use alert:
I loved your short list of features, so I used it in the following post
http://www.linkedin.com/groups/IT-Choices-startups-Cloud-onpremises-2877.S.21550
1923?qid=bd5bd8a8-850d-449e-97e7-81426cf22352&trk=group_most_recent_rich-0-b-ttl
&goback=.gmr_2877

I didn't make a link back to this blog or attribute your list to you, as I'm
concerned that your comment would scare some newbie people. For experienced
notes folks, we have a thick helmet!!

Your comments do ring true in certain respects and I'm frustrated at the
marketing effort just like you. Domino and Notes have loads of success
stories.... Second Signal in one of them. Your analysis of the migration
choices and effort is very illustrative. I'm looking forward to the rest of
the story....will you stay on domino or move?
re: Who is to blame for the failure of Domino as public web server? IBM (Lotus) Product ManagementBy BashKutty on 01/06/2014 at 04:04 AM EST
I'm completely new to Domino. Which is the best guide/Online Tutorial to begin
with?


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