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Response to a press inquiry about Senderid, Workplace, and IBM's direction

By Andrew Pollack on 09/03/2004 at 09:54 AM EDT

I got a request from someone in the press yesterday for information on a few topics. Of course, the request came with the comment that he is under deadline and needs any comments quickly -- as is always the case. I try to be pretty complete when I write back to these kinds of things or when I talk on the phone because you never know what they'll use or not. With some members of the press, they're looking for a few key controversial points to support one side or the other and will ignore anything else. Others are honestly looking to build a story. I do enough press interviews to know that this is the case, but not enough to know which journalists are which in that regard.

Anyway if you want to read my full response, here it is. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, ends up in print this time.
<heading, greeting, and pre-amble (pre-ramble?) removed>

SenderID - To be successful, any anti-spam initiative has some hurdles to overcome. First, it must be extremely inexpensive to update to. Second, it must be accepted by the open source community. Third it has to be enforced -- by which I mean a large number of companies have to be willing to reject non conforming mail. I do not see SenderID addressing these concerns sufficiently. I don't see the open source community suddenly agreeing a schema licensed by major software manufacturers when they feel there are alternatives. I also do not see the enforcement happening. There are already a lot of things companies can do to block a large amount of unwanted mail, but it would mean rigidly enforcing things like dns reverse lookup -- and thus rejecting mail from legitimate but incorrectly configured sources. The corporate users -- the ultimate constituency here -- are at this time not willing to live with that and they put tremendous pressure on their I.T. departments to not be "the only company that won't accept mail from X." The technical hurdles here aren't huge. The enforcement hurdles are going to be very very hard to reach.

The big stories for Notes customers with the release of ND7 are around the fabulous integration with IBM's DB2 -- I've tested the public beta and so far its worked brilliantly and is well integrated -- and the addition of native support for Web Services in the most preferred language of Domino developers, LotusScript, as well as the more widely used Java. That, if nothing else, should end the nonsense about LotusScript going away. Updating the internal JVM to 1.4 will also spur a lot of development side upgrades. At first glance the list of client enhancements seems short this time, but if you know the product well and know where users feel less comfortable you'll find the little changes and additions in the user interface are actually going to make a big difference.

As far as Lotus Workplace goes, as you know there isn't a public beta yet of the new rich client, however there have been several formal documents which outline its design and the plan for devopers and ISV's. I think -- initially -- its going to be of the most help for IBM to with fill a real need with a constituency that hasn't had enough attention in recent years -- the line workers. In years past, the ubiquitous 3270 terminal provided very fast and accurate -- if ugly and text driven -- access to the primary work product for these vast armys of customer facing workers. The terminal is gone now and replacing it with a fully empowered workstation has been expensive and difficult to support, while the software that runs on it has proven costly to build and maintain. The attempts to solve this problem with browser based applications have been poor overall -- the browser is just a terrible place for working with data. Its much better for, well, browsing. IBM's managed rich client will provide those workers a stable, centrally provisioned, yet modern interface for their critical work backed up by excellent transaction processing tools. IBM will once again be able to provide an army of integrators to make deployable infrastructure for the line worker. For now, the Lotus Notes client is still the unrivaled king of the desktop. It is more likley that you'll start seeing the Notes Client begin to support aspects of Workplace applications as the knowledge workers need some access to the new line worker applications. My guess is that human resources related Workplace Applications will be some of the first to make this leap.

Over time, both the DB2 strategy and the Workplace Rich Client strategy will mature. For DB2 that means the initial use of DB2 for Lotus Domino data will be used to take advantage of specific features it enables to both environments but as confidence in its use grows and both users and administrators see how transparent it is and at the same time the products themselves get better it will ultimately supplant the standalone Domino NSF because it will be the better choice. That's the right way to transition a market. The Workplace Rich Client has a tougher battle ahead. Making the transition to become the client of choice will depend on the strength of the development tools IBM creates for it. So far, those tools are not public. If they do the job well, over time integration and possibly transition will be obvious. I think the development tools will mature in their use for building line worker tools and grow into the creation of more traditional Lotus Notes applications. When the tools are ready, there will be little resistance to a change. Until then, IBM has finally put a clear public strategy that commits to long term support of the Lotus Notes platform.

There are  - loading -  comments....

I could have predicted the quote...By Ed Brill on 09/07/2004 at 02:29 PM EDT
Hailing IBM's commitment to future releases of Domino and Notes, Domino
developer Andrew Pollack predicted that the rich Workplace client, not yet in
beta form, would have a "tough battle ahead" to become the client of choice and
will need strong development tools.

"I think the development tools will mature ... and grow into the creation of
more traditional Lotus Notes applications," said Pollack, president of Northern
Collaborative Technologies, in Cumberland, Maine. "When the tools are ready,
there will be little resistance to a change."
Well, since you don't have trackback...By Rock on 09/08/2004 at 09:06 AM EDT
I went ahead and wrote about your quote and this discussion on my blog, with
the appropriate links back here of course. You can read about it here:


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