Domino On IBM i Poised For A Comeback
September 24, 2018 Alex Woodie
IBM hasn’t exactly been knocking the cover off the ball lately when it comes to the Domino family of products running on IBM i, or any platform for that matter. But when IBM and its new development partner HCL finally unveil Domino 10 to the world on October 9, it will be the start of a great comeback story.
That’s the prediction of Domino consultant Kim Greene, who has been working with the software on the IBM i platform for many years. Greene has been closely watching events unfold since HCL Technologies partnered with IBM to develop Domino and related products last October, and according to her, things really couldn’t be going much better.
“Domino is not dead,” Greene tells IT Jungle. “It’s alive, and amazing functionally is coming in version 10, and they’re planning point releases after that as well as plotting out version 11. There’s a ton of focus and energy.”
Things were looking downright dismal for IBM i Domino shops last September, before HCL Technologies stepped into the picture. There hadn’t been a major release in nearly a decade, since version 8.5 shipped, and IBM gave mixed messages about support on IBM i. Rumors about the possible death of not just Domino, but Domino on IBM i, were circulating. IBM’s emphasis on the cloud was ill-received, and many Domino customers migrated to other systems, although Greene says most of those were Domino shops running on Windows.
But thanks to the infusion of energy that HCL has brought – as well as a more enlightened perspective on the matter from IBM – the future for Domino as a whole (and Domino on IBM i specifically) appears bright once more.
“They’re crystal clear that IBM HCL supports IBM i for Domino, Sametime, and Traveler going forward,” says Greene, who is based near Rochester, Minnesota. “It’s a firm commitment. There’s no longer a ‘Well, we’ll wait and see.’ They’re working hard to address that and making sure that people know that it is fully supported.”
Greene was one of about 60 Domino industry luminaries who were selected to attend an HCL factory tour in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, this July, which oddly enough featured a “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” theme to it. Greene says new IBM’s new Domino exec, Andrew Mandy, tracked her down to talk about Domino on IBM i.
“He specifically asked to meet with me,” says Greene, the principle of Kim Greene Consulting. “He said, ‘I’d like to understand the IBM i better and understand what we need to do to reach the market and make sure we’re getting the word out that Domino, Sametime, and Traveler are fully supported on IBM i. They’re definitely wanting to make sure that word gets out properly.”
The good work over the past 12 months goes beyond the messaging and optics. According to Greene, version 10 brings a cornucopia of useful new features – including support for Node.js – that should put Domino back on the map when it comes to developing and running Web and mobile applications.
“Domino 10 is going to blow the doors away for low-code development,” she says. “You no longer have to learn a proprietary technology such as Xpages to do your mobile and Web application development. Node.js is really huge in the industry, so adding the Node.js enterprise framework to Domino unleashes a new era of development for the platform. You can find lots of developers that know [Node.js]. And it’s not that difficult to learn the [Domino] API set.”
There are also the self-healing capabilities of automatic cluster database symmetry and the automatic database repair function that will automate keeping NSF and DAOS content synchronized in a cluster and repair and replace damaged or missing NSFs and NLOs between servers. It’s very common for Domino customers to have missing pieces in the document-oriented database, and with Domino 10, fixing that is much easier. The Notes client has also been updated, and Traveler and Sametime are slated for enhancements. (IBM Connections, the other piece of IBM’s Domino puzzle, was not part of the deal with HCL and its future is not certain.)
“Once Domino 10 comes out and customers see it, it’s going to be like, holy wow,” Greene says. “If you take Domino 6, 7, 8, and 9 and combined them together, it doesn’t even hardly touch 10. It’s an amazingly huge release.”
There are other changes occurring that raise the prospects for even more compelling features to enter the pipelines since HCL and IBM have developed a client advocacy program that allows Domino clients of any size to meet directly with the Domino developers.
“A person like myself who is a business partner can bring in a customer and meet directly with the technical people,” Greene says. “They find out what is it that you need, and they listen. They want to make sure that what they develop makes sense and is something that people want. They’re not after just the big huge monster customers.”
Customers can also have a direct impact on future Domino features through the Domino2025 Product Ideas Lab, where they can submit their product request and vote on ideas. This lets the smaller Domino shops have their voices heard when it comes to product ideas, not just the big companies.
Here’s another positive sign on Domino on IBM i: HCL and IBM are looking to hire more Domino IBM i developers who can help build functionality for the IBM i platform, Greene says. They would join a Domino team that feels reinvigorated with a new sense of purpose, she says.
“What I find really amazing is the Domino developers are just jazzed,” she says. “They’re getting to do the things they wanted to do for the last seven to eight years. It’s like the handcuffs came off and they’re able to get in there and do the things they know need to be done, because they’ve always listened to their customers and partners. They obviously want to make their product better. If you don’t make it better, you don’t sell it. They all get it.”
Greene is definitely happy about the change of direction that has occurred with the platform that she has committed a good part of her professional career to serving (she has recently started working with MongoDB, which is a document-oriented NoSQL databases that in some ways is similar to Domino. Indeed, IBM and HCL have taken to calling Domino a NoSQL platform).
However, there is one caveat to all the good news on Domino in general, and Domino on IBM i specifically. While Domino version 10 will ship for Windows and Linux platforms in the fourth quarter, the version of Domino 10 that supports IBM i will take a little while longer. There’s not even a beta version of the code available to try.
“We’re not getting it right away,” she says, “but we’re getting it really soon.”
For more information about Domino 10 and the launch party HCL and IBM scheduled for October 9, check out the Domino Destination website at www.ibm.com/collaboration/ibm-domino.