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Thought Leadership

IBM Connect 2017 In Review from Afar

This is the first time in 15 years that I have not attended the Lotusphere/Connect conference.  Increased costs for vendors, moving the venue to the west coast and a heavy focus on Watson in pre-event marketing were the basis of that decision.

So this review is not first hand, rather it is an opinion of the event based on feedback from my network.  I belong to several groups in the Lotus community, and these groups have quite active chat rooms, which provided some interesting insight.

Let me start with Ed Brill’s recent posting recapping Connect 2017.  In his posting he says that IBM made it “a priority to emphasize our commitment to IBM Domino as an application and mail platform.” He said that they have “announced a number of initiatives to provide clear examples of the value both IBM and our clients place on having a confident direction for the product and its roadmap”.  These included:

  • Extended Support
  • Feature Packs
  • Verse On-Premises
  • Application Analysis
  • API’s
  • Application Refresh (aka Modernization)

Lets look at each of these.  Extended support refers to support for Notes and Domino to at least 2021. Notes 9.01 was released in April of 2013, and as it was categorized in their life cycle policy as “enhanced” meant that it had a commitment of 5 years of support, with additional support available for a cost over the annual support fee.  That would take it to 2018.  IBM announced in September of 2016 that support has been extended to 2021, with additional support, for a fee, to 2024.  There was nothing new announced at Connect in this regard.

It could be argued that this is perhaps less of a commitment than more. Lets take a look at the math.  If in 2013 IBM was committing to support Notes and Domino ver 9.01 for 5 years, that would mean it was supported up to April of 2018.  If, when that end date was near, they extended it another 5 years the product would be supported into 2023.  By extending the support in September of 2016, they committed to support until at least 2021.  They are actually committing to a shorter window of time than if they renewed support closer to the end date of the previous period. Is that how the process typically works?  I tried to find out what was normal in terms of when they renewed support and I could not.  The reason is that it has never really been an issue before. Nobody really paid attention to the date for renewal of support in the past.  This time around was unique and created by the concern in the community about the future of the product.

Ed then addressed the new feature packs, which is a continuous delivery model that he explains is “more modern” than the older method of releasing a new version. Yet there was a lot of talk at Connect 2017 about Connections version 6.  It seems Connections is not using the more modern continuous delivery approach, at least not yet.  I still think that IBM is cutting costs when it comes to Notes and Domino, using the spin of “more modern” Feature Packs so they do not have to go to the expense related to the process required to release a new version.  Java 8 support in the latest feature pack is great, but keep in mind it was promised years ago and only just materialized.

Verse on premises shipped in December of 2016 and was once again highlighted at Connect 2017.  I think the announcement of a new browser based mail offering, coupled with the release of a new Notes client offering (ICAA) that allows customers to access Notes client based applications, suggests that perhaps the future of the Notes client is uncertain. I would not be surprised to see an announcement prior to 2018 that the Notes client will not be available for purchase.  That is just an opinion.  There has been no press released from IBM to support that.

The Rest API’s being available to Notes and Domino is definitely a good thing. Most other platforms have it, and have had it for some time now. This will allow better integration between Notes applications and other systems.  I heard some feedback that there is a feeling XPAGES is not going to see a lot of attention moving forward.  That has a lot of technical folks, especially those who invested a lot of time learning the technology, concerned. It really depends on whose report from Connect 2017 you read.  Some argue XPAGES is alive and well, others do not.

Prior to the event Ed indicated there would be a significant announcement around modernization of Notes and Domino based applications.  The big announcement seemed to be “contact a partner”.  IBM had Sopho do a demo of their application, and how it could surface Domino data.  He mentioned other product offerings, but not all of the ones available.  Sopho was a bit of a surprise, but in retrospect maybe it should not be considering IBM’s focus on social.  Sapho is not modernizing applications as much as scraping data and packaging it in a social media stream.  I personally thought IBM had something significant up their sleeve.  Notes and Domino is often classed as legacy, and could have really used a modernization face lift. I am not sure Sopho is going to help much. Here is an article that shares that opinion.

In addition Ed said for Notes and Domino application analysis customers with active M&S could obtain a free copy of the tool created by Panagenda. I cannot recall in the past where IBM showcased one partner product over another to such a degree. There are several loyal Notes and Domino vendors with similar offerings in terms of analysis tools, and to encourage one over another in my opinion is an unusual move for IBM.

Talking to partners who did attend the conference I hear that the vibe was good. Much more positive than last year. However, San Francisco as a venue received a lot of negative comments.  Over the years the gap between rich and poor has widened, and it was obvious at a glance. Also the venue did not have the same facilities as the Disney complex in Orlando.  It was not possible for the majority of the attendees to stay in the same hotel, as was the case in 2016, so the feeling of community suffered.

In my opinion, the debate about Notes and Domino being a priority for IBM is old news.  Anyone who has been involved in the “Lotus” community over the years knows what is going on.  The LUGS, formerly known as the Lotus User Groups, are now all sponsored by IBM.  They use these as a forum to market new products and technology to the Notes community. There is a lot of focus on new products, and Notes and Domino is definitely not new.

Is Notes going away in the next couple of years?  It would not surprise me in the least to hear the full client has been pulled from sales. Same for Domino Designer.  In my opinion, Domino, the server component, is not likely to disappear anytime soon.

 

 

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By |November 26th, 2012|Product Updates, Thought Leadership|Comments Off on Create a Contract Management Application in 5 minutes …

For the Record…

Today we welcome guest blogger Daniel Lieber, President of Innovative Ideas Unlimited, Inc (IIUI). IIUI is a DOCOVA business partner, and developer of IIUI Records Manager Express, a fully-featured records management application that exceeds the U.S. Department of Defense 5015.02 certification requirements.

Records Management, Compliance, Governance, Risk Management, and several other terms are used to describe to know when content is no longer necessary to keep in its primary repository. The purpose of having records management boils down to this: 1) Knowing what you have, 2) Knowing where it is, 3) Knowing when it is no longer necessary to retain. If content exists, it is discoverable and should be known.

There are many different discussions on “What is a record?” and “Is records management actually an important imperative for organizations?” Without rehashing all of the various discussions, the most common definition for a record is generally “information used to make a business decision.” This is intentionally broad and does not get into the subsequent classification of types of records. From here, records can get classified and retentions applied. Some retention periods are short, e.g. 30 days after last use, and some are long, e.g. 75 years after a facility is opened. A few records are even “permanent.”

This begs the question, “isn’t this really just archiving?” The answer is simple: No.

Records management is much more than archiving. It is an integral part of a business process which includes valuing information based upon its content and taking action based upon realistic events. Most often, records retention schedules have timers based upon real-world events that are independent of the systematic events computers are inherently used to processing. The act of receiving a message is not usually important and thus having a timer based upon that fact alone is not often significant. The act of reading and/or processing a message based upon its meaning is much more relevant. Let’s take a look at an engineering drawing about a utility building. The drawing may have been completed on Sept. 21, 2008, and approved Feb. 21, 2009 for a building that was opened Jan. 15, 2012. The document was added to DOCOVA on June 30, 2010. Should the retention period be started in 2008, 2009, 2010 or 2012? The systematic date has the least relevance and the most relevant date in this case is likely the building opening date if the retention rule is based upon “retain for 75 years after a facility is opened.”

A good records management solution like Records Manager Express can handle this process with ease, managing much of the records management requirements and rules for workers (and enabling them to focus on their tasks, not record retention rules).

Having effective records management is important to any content management project. We can help you with determining appropriate records management practices and methodologies in your organization even if records schedules are outdated or non-existent.

Are your records management practices consistent? Discuss below!

By |October 17th, 2012|Business Partners, Thought Leadership|Comments Off on For the Record…