As expected, IBM came out with a series of announcements today. I already had a low set of expectations for what would be announced. But even then I still found myself profoundly disappointed with how little was actually released.
Today IBM announced they were extending support for Notes & Domino to 2021. By my calculations IBM has generated around $2.5 BILLION in maintenance revenue since 9.0.1 was released. So essentially IBM have offered to continue that same relationship with its customers for another five years. If I run those numbers through a quick discounted cash flow I get a pretty fair rate of return on my investment (if I was an IBM shareholder). Which leads to the second of today’s announcements… what is the customer (who is paying the maintenance) getting in return? At MWLUG IBM indicated they were moving away from point releases and instead adding enhancements at part of fix packs. Today we saw the release of Notes/Domino 9.0.1 FP7 which included 81 fixes. But when it comes to enhancements it looks like IBM has continued to kick the can down the road. What was offered as enhancements were really just support for newer versions of software that had previously been available, such as entitlements for Connections 5.5, the latest version of the Google Calendar API, and Citrix Terminal Server. That was it! There was absolutely nothing there for developers desperate to find ways to keep their applications modern. No Java 8 support or any of the many other things that we know have been developed over the past three years but still not being made available. It looked to me like the only people seeing anything positive with what was announced today were those auditioning for the 2017 IBM Champion Program.
When I read the heart-felt blog from a great community contributor, David Leedy, it hit me as to what the true impact of today’s announcements meant. There are perhaps tens of thousands of people around the world who still believe in IBM and hoping they will continue to deliver enhancements that will help them in their work. They feel let down when IBM continues to offer so little for a platform they believe in. I feel for David and the many people like him who have performed miracles with the Notes technology for so many years. As a business partner I too am frustrated and upset. Believe it or not, I am always looking to present a positive outlook for applications based on the Notes platform. But its getting harder and harder to build a case for the Notes/Domino platform. I can accept the disappearance of the Notes client and would be willing to see Xpages replaced with something better. But right now there is just this big void. At MWLUG I heard a number of IBMers saying they were hearing a loud and clear message from its customers and business partners. They also reassured me that IBM were continuing to invest in the Domino platform. And today we got what?
Today more than ever the ball falls back into the IBM court to show some leadership for the 50,000 customers with an estimated 10 million Notes applications. IBM has dug a hole for itself but strangely seems reluctant to put the shovels down. We don’t need to hear how Notes & Domino is still important to IBM (I am sure the revenue is). We need to see specifics about what we are going to get and when. IBM could start by providing a list of possible new enhancements that are on the short-list for 9.0.1 FP8 and when that will be. Fix Packs are normally six months apart and I am not sure IBM has that long to keep its remaining customers engaged. Some are placing their hopes in an announcement about Application Modernization. Hopefully at Icon UK this week IBM can offer some vision for the Domino platform. If they don’t there is a growing number of business partners who will help customers move elsewhere.
At Icon UK Barry Rosen provided some much needed clarity. Notes/Domino 9.0.1 FP8 is planned to be release Q1 2017. Not a lot there for application developers outside of Java 8 upgrade but at least it provides idea of where things standards and a starting point for discussions.
The Designer feature are not yet allocated to a specific Feature Pack (the new term for a FixPack).