The Event

As always MWLUG has been an awesome event thanks to the amazing efforts of Richard Moy and his team. There were many familiar faces, but there were some new faces as the mid-west slowly expands further south and further west each year to arrive in the center of Texas. This was my first visit to Austin, and I must say I was blown away by what I saw. I never realized what a microcosm Austin is. It truly changed my perceptions of Texas. Thanks to Amanda Baumann for her introduction to Austin session. I would also like to mention that many of us that stayed over Friday night had the chance to hear Amanda sing alongside a great local act. She was truly amazing!


No surprises that topics such as Social and Cognitive dominated the OGS Session presented by Katrina Troughton. The good news is that it sounds like the initial Betas of Verse on-premise are going well and that IBM are on track to deliver to a wider audience towards the end of this year. What I hadn’t understood until now was that some time ago IBM forked the Domino code as part of the development of SmartCloud. This means adding Verse on premise is a lot more complicated than I would have imagined. Because the code has been forked we should not assume the same feature set is always going to be available on both environments.

It also sounded like Toscana, a new group chat client  that almost everyone describes to me as “something like Slack” is also close to completion. I am still sitting on the fence about this product. It sounds like IBM has some interesting takes on what a chat client could be. I remain unconvinced that IBM can drive a level of adoption for this product outside its own existing customer base to make this product a success. Lets wait and see….


Unfortunately IBM provided no clarity at this event as to how it might fill the void for customer (and business partners) who have invested in the Notes platform over the past 25 years. To many this was perhaps not a surprise. The tone of the conference was such that I am sure if IBM had not gotten the message before it surely will be resonating with those from IBM that attended this year’s event.

Prior to MWLUG I feel the community as a whole had accepted that the Notes client had passed its use by date. What I believe many began to understand for the first time was that a similar fate now awaits XPages. The last day of the conference coincided with the last day for Pete Janzen at IBM. It was also a day on which David Leedy also announced his retirements from XPages speaking. At MWLUG PSC, possibly the largest provider of custom XPages solutions, announced an alliance with LDC Via to build web applications by migrating Notes data to Mongo DB. XPages stock must be trading at an all-time low after MWLUG.

It seems that IBM is now focusing on delivering a smaller set of feature more frequently in a manner similar to how we now see cloud-based products being “enhanced”. I was going to say “released” but apparently IBM are going out of there way to call any new releases something other than a “Release”. These will be called Fix Packs now, but it was hinted that they might soon be called something else. My suggestion would be to avoid the confusion of inventing another name for what the software industry pretty much universally calls releases and call it a RELEASE. (I think Google Chrome is now up to release 53 after it decided to smaller more frequent releases).

We now know we have 9.0.1 Fix Pack 7 being released next month. This will include server enhancements to support Verse On Premise and support for the Outlook client. We are also likely to see a batch of improvements for application development, including support for Java 8 in some capacity. All those things planned to be included as part of 9.0.2 if only we were allowed to call it a RELEASE. Additional Fix Packs will be released but I suspect these will focus more on support for Verse On Premise. It is my understanding that the XPages development team have been reassigned to work on Toscana. This move would be consistent with the departure of Pete Janzen. If you have no future plans for XPages you would have little need for a Product Manager or a development team.

At Engage I got the impression that new General Manager Inhi Cho Suh understood the need for IBM to provide something in the Application Development space. Six months later I was expecting to start hear a little more about this. We did not. I assume this is the thing labeled “Application Modernization” that has appeared on the ICS Road Map since then.  Nothing at all was said about this at MWLUG. It troubles me that IBM have now allowed a void to exist between closing down XPages and not announcing any future direction in this space. This was a lost opportunity. It was also mentioned by a few people here that there will be no Leadership Alliance this year. (I will leave it to Darren Duke to pare that!)

Red Pill Now

Red Pill Now did a total of five sessions at the conference in addition to Speed Sponsoring. We got very good feedback from those that attended our sessions and we would like to thank all those people that came and interacted with some very good questions.  The slides for our sessions are being made available on Slideshare. We also engaged a videographer to record each of our sessions and we will be arranging too make those available for anybody that was unable to attend… or even those that did attend but want to see the session again.

At our Case Study session today Clarence White, the CIO at Salvation Army provided a CIO’s view of the Notes application space. He was asked about his plans for his Notes applications moving forward. Clarence indicated that while he had no belief that Notes had a future and that e-mail may soon be moved to something else he was quite happy to keep his Notes databases. The one caveat being that he plans to move those applications to the cloud using Azure.

Red Pill Now’s message at MWLUG is pretty consistent with Clarence’s view. That is not a surprise as we view Clarence as being representative of a lot of CIO’s that we encounter. In the absence of strong leadership from IBM as to what should be done with aging Notes applications to move forward we can no longer wait for IBM to solve our problems. This is the gap into which we at Red Pill Now are presently focused.

As we see it the problem with most Notes applications is with the front-end and not the back-end. Replacing the NSF with something else doesn’t solve the real problem, especially if that data is accessed via a REST API anyway. Nor does it address the issues of data silos created by having hundred of databases containing overlapping data. The focus should be on building REST Services and then using JavaScript Frameworks that support Web Components to build newer interfaces for the Notes data. Everything that we heard from IBM, Business Partners, and other companies using Notes confirmed our belief that we are heading in the right direction.

MWLUG is to be in the Washington DC area next year. By then I fully expect we will be able to return as a sponsor again and demonstrate some amazing advancements we will have been able to make ourselves to surface Notes data in new and innovative ways. Thanks to everybody that dropped by to chat and share your views, thoughts, and… frustrations. It was a great three days. And a big Thank You to YTRIA for the awesome drone…