Is the world migrating out of the Lotus Notes platform?
Lotus Notes born in 1989, is now a 28 year old mature youth powering productivity and collaboration across several large enterprises. The platform has been criticised as out dated in the cloud, social and mobile first world. And that has spun off lots of tools and services around, and many other smarter ways to migrate out of the Lotus Notes platform. But are the enterprises making a beeline to retire the IBM Domino servers?
Contrary to popular noise on this topic, we are finding several enterprises are *not* rushing to decommission Lotus Domino servers. Yes, most of them are shifting their email platform to the cloud, especially Office 365 but its a well known fact that IBM Domino is far far more than just mail. IBM Notes is an application suite that provides business collaboration functions, such as email, calendars, to-do lists, contacts management, team rooms, discussion forums, file sharing, microblogging, instant messaging, blogs, and user directories. IBM Notes can also be used with other IBM Domino applications and databases.
Here is a perspective from a Notes consultant “The good news is I’ve been in large companies that are switching to Outlook, and they still have hundreds of business critical Notes databases on their servers that would cost huge amounts to shut down. “
A market share study reveals this “As many as 50,000 organizations are still using Notes to provide access to 10 million applications.” -2016 RedPillNow.com
Another study reports that “There are 20 million apps that are still finding their way out from the customers who switched out of Lotus and 2 million of those are critical apps”
Key reasons why IBM Domino continues to deliver:-
A) Need to replace is *not* mission critical
Several IBM Domino applications are stable, capture business data and have low feature development backlog. Further while mobile is growing, a lot of enterprise software is accessed from the desktop. The value of modernising the user interface (for e.g. help desk or service desk software) isn’t significant and the business case becomes weak.
B) IT budgets are stagnant on shrinking
Enterprises do not have unlimited budgets to modernise and transform the underlying IT software. And IT managers can get trapped with high running cost of old software and lack of capital to develop new digital solutions.
So, what’s the way forward with IBM Domino?
Given a continued reliance on the IBM Domino platform, this paper presents 5 ideas to lower the TCO (Total cost of ownership) of the IBM Domino infrastructure. This will reduce maintenance costs and thus frees up valuable IT budget for newer initiatives.
1) Consolidate servers and reduce cost of licenses
Here is an example of what we faced with a client:
This is a manufacturing company based out of Sweden with offices internationally. They had 10 domino servers across 6 countries , one sametime server, two quickr servers. We did a study of load and usage across time and found that the domino servers could be reduced to 6 (one per country) and can be load balanced when there is peak traffic in one location.
Pruning the number of servers needs to be carefully examined using well defined criteria and by analysing the usage data of the servers.
2) Retire unused apps and reduce maintenance costs
This is a big opportunity. Some refer to the ‘app jungle’ with uncontrolled proliferation. Through a formal study and survey it is feasible to discover mission critical apps, apps that are actively in use, apps that can be retired or remediated. With mail migrating to Office 365, there is a good reason to drive a thorough audit of LOB(Line Of Business) apps and retire unwanted ones which can lead to further server consolidation and reduced service tickets. Also, every time an upgrade is needed, fewer apps need to be tested before certifying the upgrade.
3) Run Domino administration as a managed service
Domino administration is the niche skills and the community is shrinking faster than the pace at which IBM Domino platforms are disappearing. And in-house domino administrators also have a lot of “tribal knowledge” about the organisation that they get pulled into many other IT projects that needs domain knowledge. So organisations are finding in difficult to deploy in house talent to optimise the IBM Domino servers or complete the long pending upgrade.
This is where a managed service model using specialist consultants can help. Maarga Systems has done several such projects which includes a short knowledge transfer phase after which the Domino servers are remote managed for patches, upgrades, monitoring and ticket resolution.
4) Implement preventive maintenance and do that upgrade
Implement health checks and performance monitoring can significantly reduce downtime and P1 tickets.
5) Move IBM Domino to the cloud
IBM has recently announced a Domino cloud solution that looks very promising. You can read more about it here
The idea of moving an app to the cloud at $27/DB/month sounds appealing and significant value at a very low cost. Of course the numbers begin to bloat if you are considering 1000’s of apps but that may not be the case if you can smartly retire unwanted applications.