Notes/Domino Social Edition 9 To Arrive In March
February 4, 2013 Dan Burger
Notes/Domino Social Edition 9 has been talked about since Lotusphere 2012. There was a public beta version released in November last year. Its development cost is rumored to be as much as $100 million while spanning 18 to 24 months, depending on who’s spreading the rumors. Now IBM is committing to a March release date for the software, which is being billed as the biggest Notes/Domino release in years. And, being modern and all, it has the “Social Edition” tag on it.
There’s no bigger burden, we’ve repeatedly seen, than the burden of great potential.
In the race to be more social than the competition, IBM has made some notable strides. However, the tendency for all competitors in this race is to put the marketing cart before the technology horse. In its promotional materials (and who would ever expect grandiose statements to appear in such serious documents), IBM loves to follow up mentions of Notes/Domino Social Edition 9 with “the industry’s first truly social email client and delivers a social experience to users, whether using a browser or on the broadest range of mobile devices.” Truly social? That’s a warning to steer clear of email options that are insincere when telling you they give you social only to break your heart by coming up short.
New features are not exactly new in Notes/Domino 9. A public beta program beginning in November let that cat out of the bag. But let’s review the list of improvements over Notes/Domino 8.5 beginning with a much closer alignment between Notes and iNotes, (iNotes being the cloud-based option). For iNotes to rather closely mirror Notes is a leap forward. For example, both enjoy the same fresh user interface, a browser plug-in, the embedded application experiences, and single sign-on capabilities.
The browser plug-in allows a version of the Notes client to run within a browser, therefore eliminating the need to have the full client installed. It is built to run applications (not email) without modifications to the apps. That means no rewriting or modifying apps and that is a notable amount of savings in time and money. IBM i shops, and others with investments in Domino application development, will take an interest in this feature, but the IBM i advocates won’t be the first to be seated at the table. For now, the browser options are only Firefox and Internet Explorer. From that you might guess that this is a made-for-Windows-only feature. More options are promised. IBM i shops will have to make some noise before they become a higher priority.
The embedded application experience means users no longer have to leave the context of their mail message. Examples would be to click an approve button or get access to comments on a video. The OpenSocial 2 specification opens the door for integration with other well-known open source social specifications, which is a direction of interest for IBM and a large number of developers.
It allows the content host to direct a service in the way it renders content instead of having the service figure it out. The objective is to provide a higher degree of control over data in a device such as a smartphone or a tablet. OpenSocial specifications are important for application developers looking to bring the best experience to an end user.
The single sign-on (SSO) capabilities come with the introduction of SAML support. Technically, SSO is not new to Notes. It was there in the same way that an appendix is there–it was pretty much ignored, but for some it was the cause of great pain. SAML support is the cure. SAML is an open standard (like Pavlov’s dogs, we all salivate when we hear that term) for exchanging authentication and authorization data between an identity provider and a service provider. It addresses the problem caused by non-interoperable (boo) proprietary (hiss) technologies. Prior to SAML, some of the interoperability hurdles were overcome, but there were often obstacles that could not be removed. In the Notes environment, the trip point is primarily the interoperability with Microsoft‘s Active Directory. Anyone who has fought those battles should be happy to see SAML support.
During his much-too-hyper opening session presentation at Connect 2013, Notes/Domino evangelist Ed Brill (slow down, Ed, you talk like an auctioneer) made a case for Notes/Domino momentum. His evidence included revenue growth in three out of four quarters during 2012, with the number of Domino servers on maintenance contracts reaching a high that IBM has not seen since 2009 and 1,151 enterprises that had wandered away and let their software subscription and support lapse returned to the flock by the end of the third quarter. And by a hand-count of the general session audience, he surmised 80 percent of the advocates were running Notes/Domino 8.3 or higher. To help customers with those Notes/Domino investments, he brought up the IBM partnership with Trust Factory, a company that makes a tool for examining the overall health of a Notes/Domino deployment and identifies deployment issues and opportunities for improved operations. Trust Factory calls its tool Domino Network Analysis (DNA), but IBM has rebranded it as Notes/Domino DoubleCheck.
Brill also noted that IBM is back in the fight to increase market share in the mail and messaging business and the return of the Exchange-to-Domino migration tool is evidence. The tool is not available now, but will be soon, he said. In the meantime, migrations are being handled through a services team. Suitably reinvigorated, I presume.
According to IBM, Notes and Domino are used by more than half of the Fortune 500 companies. Mobile capabilities in Notes/Domino allow companies to manage and support platforms, including Apple (iOS 6), Google Android, and Microsoft Windows operating system, including the soon to be released RIM BlackBerry 10.
Brill also noted that considerable efforts were being devoted to running Domino on IBM PureSystems, which was prominently noted in sessions at Connect 2013 and in the IBM booth in the vendor expo area.