Why does Lotus Notes suck?

1. a guy named Rod Boothby just blogged about some ways to migrate from Lotus Notes to a more „sophisticated toolset“. He calls it „Enterprise 2.0 / Office 2.0“, whatever that means. Not a revolutionary article, just some thoughts are in, no more, no less. But the following reaction striked me:

2. Ed Brill, one of this guys at IBM with a long title (Business Unit Executive, Worldwide Lotus Messaging Sales, IBM Software Group) and a longtime Blogger is getting really cheap on Rod, by trying to question his reputation and the whole thoughts behind Rods blogposting: Rod Boothby on Notes, part two — second verse, worse than the first. Instead of trying to discuss the things with humility and coolness, he attacks Rod and ignore his arguments behind that migration scenario. That is what differentiates an expert 2.0 from a manager 1.0. (see also Is it dangerous to criticise Lotus Notes?)

That is not the way to speak with your customers (or lets say potential customers) out there, Ed. Why dont you speak about the future developments of such groupware collaboration monoliths = LN? Is there something to focus on „office 2.0“? How will IBM help their customers to get better tools? Man, you dissapointed me so much!! You dont have to behave like a junk car seller.

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So, can we say that Lotus Notes sucks? But sure, as it looks like that even the managing guys at IBM do lose their temper if some Bloggers question the future of their products.

But one last thing, if we are already mentioned this strange „enterprise 2.0″/“office 2.0“: a one comment reads as following:

… This is how IBM thinks. They think that they rule the world, like the dinosaurs. We all know what happened to the dinosaurs! Are any of these guys realizing what harm they are doing to themselves by attacking their own end users? Why are they not listening? The real problem is that IBM and other large software companies are still talking about their great technology and how it can do anything and has been doing it for over 10 years. Good for you IBM! This is old technology and we don’t want it any more. … The power of Enterprise 2.0 is that a simple application such as a Blog and RSS feed can replace an old system at the fraction of the cost, with little or no implementation time and this is what many companies like IBM are now afraid off. This is why these OLD IBM’ers are so angry with you Rod. They know that they are a dieing breed and they will no longer be able to have their 20+ year jobs and get paid $400 an hour + expenses to consult you. How can you innovate if you are working in a time capsule for 10-20 years?

In large organizations like yours, it is up to the business units to request new solutions. In large organizations like yours however, the IT team is also the one to recommend and implement such systems. This same IT team is used to running their old IBM systems. This is what they know. This is what the CIO knows. So, in order for a large enterprise to move to Enterprise 2.0 /Web 2.0 technology, their top business and IT management need to see the benefits first and only then this can happen. The good news is that most new workers that are fresh from College know about these wacky things like blogs, wikis, social networking, RSS, web based email, video, etc, etc and they will eventually be the once to request and recommend such Enterprise 2.0 systems.

I would love to get a small group of end users and do a usability test. Let’s put your Notes and our blogging, wiki, RSS, Social Networking tools (oops IBM don’t have that one yet) and see what they will say. Let’s see how fast can you create a new workgroup, a new blog, add a picture, some video, tags, posting, get a new wiki folder, search for an expert within your corporate network. I guess that we could first do an IT test too and test how fast you can install this software on a single server and get it up and running.

Much oversimplified but true: every company has to look for reliable, secure, low priced, flexible, scalable and efficient IT environment. Do not simply believe the big companies like IBM / Microsoft. Think and look for yourself, what is out there already among the Web (dont buy into 2.0…) apps solving your problems maybe much better. Because it has a thing that many old-school apps do not have: an user proven „architecture“ (generally speaking) tested among many internet user. Dont think that your organisation is much different from the needs of the internet users out there. Compare it. Not the perfect built application has to be the best. The best is what the user serves at best. Do not buy into a SW like Lotus Notes, just because you could do and build „everything“ with it. You dont need everything and you dont want to buy everything! So, maybe one of this „cheap“ Web-apps is something for your company, maybe its still the old school MS Office, Lotus Notes or a huge monster developed by your IT department (i could immidiately name some use cases, where e.g. WordPress beats the shit out of Lotus Notes).

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Über den Autor

Robert Basic

Robert Basic ist Namensgeber und Gründer von BASIC thinking und hat die Seite 2009 abgegeben. Von 2004 bis 2009 hat er über 12.000 Artikel hier veröffentlicht.

22 Kommentare

  • @Marc, das ist nicht für das deutsche Publikum oder wie soll ein Amerikaner den deutschen Text verstehen???

    btw, wenn ich auf kroatisch schreiben möchte, mache ich das, wenn mir danach ist. Wenn ich auf deutsch schreiben will, tue ich das auch. So wie es ich es für richtig halte, wenn ich mit jemandem reden will. Wo ist das Problem dabei in Deinen Augen?

  • Disclaimer: I’m an IBM employee, but I’m speaking only for myself!
    I don’t really understand the quotet comment. It sounds like if there would be a choice between blogging, Wiki, RSS and Social Networking tools on the one and Lotus Notes on the other side. And I don’t think, that this is a choice you have to make or that even is there to make. In fact as I know Lotus it is a Social Networking Tool (and a mighty one)?
    Of course I don’t think it is perfect (although, I kinda grown to like it), but who or what is? I took only the steps from Notes 6 to 6.5 and to 7.0, and I’m sure everybody agrees that it was improving. Therfore I’m sure it will improve with the next step again (- that’s what new versions are about, right?).
    I know that there are some people really hating Notes, although I cannot really understand how you can hate a piece of software. I just give a shrug and say „Hey, so what, don’t use it!“. I like it, you don’t, everything cool.

  • but sure your have a choice, you can install WordPress or you can use some of the ugly blogging tools carved out of the Notes blood 🙂 No, just kidding, i understand what you mean. But the point is: what drives Ed so mad and is there maybe an interesting point by learning from the web 2.0 (for companies), being dangerous for Lotus Notes? As Google does drive MS crazy 🙂

  • I mean – I don’t think, that’s an exclusive choise.

    Well, I read the whole thing now (ok, nearly the whole thing) and I can understand Ed and the many others (that are NOT IBMers but have real experience with Notes/Domino) to some degree. Rod made an provocating entry that was just wrong. Ok, it had some funny/interesting approaches, but at the bottom line it was just bullshit (to express myself clearly now ;-)).
    And to call yourself experienced at the topic with about 2,5 years of using Notes (and not Domino) as an „end user“ is just ridiculous, don’t you think.
    Of course as we’ve seen in many other cases it doesn’t really help to bring the guns into position and try to attack such ideas/opinions – you can not „win“ (there’s nothing to win). Just stay cool, state the facts and if the other side ignores them – smile and turn around.

  • Robert, the issue with Rob Boothby’s comments were that they were not based in fact. You cannot do as he describes and get anything useful. Period. He’s acting as if Notes apps are nothing more than the data they contain. That being the case we can all throw our our CMS systems and just go back to manually editing HTML in vi because that’s all we need, right?

  • Robert, you really should know better. You have been in the Notes industry before and have been as an expert for a long time. Hence, you really should know, that what Rod is writing, is simply crap, not worth to even comment. You have not seen any comment from me over there just for that reason. I was tempted to post, how to create a new human beeing with a comparable methodology than what he was describing. I asure you, such a comparision would yeld a very, very funny result …… 😀 …. and it would not take nine monthes, but a lot less time.

    Yes, the community was overreacting, but so are you. That was not worth your time. And Think Basicly about that comparable things would happen, if someone would do the same to any other well known technology: Writing about migrating data from a SharePoint server by screenscraping it …. The cryup would go through the MS-World as well.

    … just my 2 Swiss-Rappen to it …

  • I’d be very interested in further details regarding

    i could immidiately name some use cases, where e.g. WordPress beats the shit out of Lotus Notes

    But maybe better in a separate blog post since it would be kinda off-topic here… Anyway, many thanks in advance 🙂

  • @Daniel, es gibt kein Blog-Gesetz auf dieser Welt, das mich daran hindert, englische Beiträge zu schreiben, wenn es notwendig ist. Zumal von über 5000 Artikeln möglicherweise 2 oder drei auf englisch sind, ähem.. 😉 Aber Du hast Recht, *giggel*, ich werde mich bemühen, die Quote wieder anzuheben :))))

    @Charles & Jens, not too fast young Skywalkers, not so fast. You focus imho too much onto the aspect of switching costs and method Rod described, which is indeed not near to be good.

    But, Rod tries to draw a picture by saying that it could be smart to switchj because there are better solutions out there. Take a Wiki. Dont try to fool me, that you could build a better wiki with Lotus Notes. So does a company have to invest into Notes or a Wiki if there is an interest upon building a really brilliant knowledge tool (one of the main domains of Lotus Notes)? Or, could it be even economically better – if it so – to switch from an existing Notes environment to a much leaner application? Maybe even web based? That isnt too far away comparing the problems of MS regarding the very aggressive strategies of Google, Linux and the whole OpenSource scene. Generally speaking every bigger IT company has to think about the new times, a bigger internet than ever, never sleeping, never standing still: many users are building maybe much better applications. The creative power of a company is limited. You cant fight against millions of users out there, testing, enchancing and empowering the tools excactly for their needs. And this tools arent automatically worse then enterprise SW (old discussion among Open Source and the old dogs like Microsoft). What will be the answer of IBM and their Lotus Notes against this movement. And a part of this movement is already entering the whole groupware collaboration field. Looking at it from that point – and that is what i am focusing on – Rod has absolutely right, to open your minds. Well, bad excecuted with his switching example but its not so important if you concentrate where he came from (what he calls web 2, enterprise 2, office 2). And we as IT experts have not the right to shoot at him just because he is no expert in our field of know-how. we should welcome his raw ideas and try to work with it insteand calling it all BS or try to call him an idiot.

  • @Michael, me too dont want to drift away, but just a quick example out from the SMB-Markets: compare the costs of a WordPress Blog to the costs of a Domino based Blog template. Do not forget the costs of hosting, the licensing, the server itself and the administration of the tool (just let forget the facts, that Domino-Blogs have such a small design template base and very few plugins compared to WP, the number of experts, who could install this and the very limited possibilities for the customer to customize the Blog if he would want that). Not that big example but i would never sell a customer a LN based Blog if he has not a LN server. If he has one i still wouldnt do this. But the latter is a different story.

  • Robert, the „teamrooms“ we use are IMHO older than any wikis out there and are using the same approach, that everybody can edit an article (if he has the right to do so). They have some big advantages, like the offline capabilities and the ease of use (e.g. drag&drop with files and pictures) without any Wikisyntax.
    Of course it may sometimes be better to use „real“ wikisoftware, because you don’t need all the features a teamroom offers (e.g. you only have text content). So we do in the IBM Intranet w3.

    You cant fight against millions of users out there, testing, enchancing and empowering the tools excactly for their needs.

    First, that sounds kinda ideal. Maybe it is that way with WordPress, but there are not many software like that. On the other hand, how many user does Notes have? I’m sure that are millions as well. So what?

    What will be the answer of IBM and their Lotus Notes against this movement.

    Why „against“ this movement. As I understand it IBM wants to go as a partner with this movement.

  • Under-informed or bad-intentioned rants, attacks or campaigns are characteristic for enterprise IT. Some of those indignated in this thread might have published rants, attacks or campaigns against other platforms, which does not make much sense/ are not fair from a technical/ economical/ whatever standpoint neither.

  • [quote]
    Rod has absolutely right, to open your minds.
    Croatian grammar, hm 🙂 (does not matter, I myself enjoy a lot to not care too much about english grammar).
    Robert. As IT we simply can’t accept every crazy guy able to open his mouth as our new & shiny agenda-setter. Do I expect blogosphere to discuss my bitching about blogging, for the greater good?
    The IT has a certain image of being ivory tower, little interested in problems of „average Joe“, etc. But thats often not true.
    There were a lot of good & pragmatic new ideas in the last years. Often from the very inside, sometimes from the border (for example heavily graphic design influenced Barcamp) but never from guy like Rod.

  • @robert

    Well the price is 130€ or something around that for the licence (express version). And a server to host it.

    Not too bad for a company solution. Isn’t it.

  • What are the monthly hosting costs for a Domino server? For a WP-Blog lets compare it e.g. with 2.99/month – WebPak M, space, traffic, and so on – and above all you can install WP with one click since its offered in their hosting packages. Does your Domino provider can install a Domino-Blog with one click or do you need an expert (lets say 300-1000 Euro/day… just to install the blog)?

  • Hey, ruhig. Man darf ja wohl nochmal seinen Kommentar abgeben dürfen. Ich würds nur schade finden wenn hier bald laufend englischer Content kommt, das ist immer viel anstrengender zu lesen und man liest es ja trotzdem aus Angst was zu verpassen 😛

  • Robert breaking it down to that you are right but that is not the scope where i would in general target any domino web installation.

    Well for the server you would need a Plesk Root server at last. This does cost 9,90€ a month at 1und1 with suse 9.3 installed.

    Installing a new domino Server on that system should be done within an hour or so (I am not that linux expert so times may vary). Installing for example the new IBM Blog template. 5 Minutes and you can go (well you have to spend some more time to configure how it should behave). Any other opensource Domino blog template. Download and install it in the same amount of time. Install a Domino based Wiki on the same server. 5 minutes. Install any other Domino based web enabled database on the same server another five minutes.

    The thing is „on the same server“. No dependancies, no this does only work with mysql 4.x that one has to use mysql 5.0. No you must stick to this PHP version. You see what i mean?