IBM Domino has always been very active within Germany. So it’s no surprise that online IT journal Heise Online published an article summarising recent blog posts about the current state of application development for the IBM Domino platform. IBM have shown a commitment to the platform for mail, always quick to say that Verse is still IBM Domino at the backend and already providing a closed beta for the on premises version of Verse. But the position of the platform for application development, a mainstay of many customers and a strong revenue stream for ICS, has been less certain. According to a recent blog post, something on application modernization will be announced Q4, although the slide in this tweet suggest Q3 (a typo?)
— ((Stuart McIntyre)) (@StuartMcIntyre) 18 August 2016
My own speculation on the future are purely that – speculation. “Application modernization” is such a woolly term, it’s hard to tell what the reality of the plan will be, if a plan exists. I wrote a whitepaper last year on the challenges and pitfalls of migrating platforms and I’ve not really seen anything to change my opinions. That’s why I fully expect many existing Domino applications still to be used for many years.
But the concerns from the community are very valid. They have careers as application developers to preserve, and changing to be a sales-person for a mail or persistent chat product isn’t a viable future for them. Nor is building little add-ons to them. And a look at agendas of user groups and IBM Connect/ConnectED/Lotusphere over recent years shows they are not a tiny minority of the ICS community. They have to look after themselves and their families. They are rightly concerned by silence after taking off the table the enhancements that were on the table virtually unchanged for three years. They are rightly concerned that the only IBM-led technical session at MWLUG was on XPages on Bluemix, not led by developers, and there is nothing at ICON UK. They are rightly concerned by a two-word phrase that could be taken to mean anything from just using IBM Client Application Access for supporting legacy applications to migration using Domino Access Services.
One thing is certain, that when an announcement comes in Q3 or Q4, there will still be a plethora of XPages / Domino applications and developers. But whether it will appease the doubters remains to be seen. Whether the previously-valued advocates, IBM Champions or not, will be interested in echoing the message in any light, positive or otherwise remains to be seen. Whether it will motivate application developers or customers using Domino for app dev (primarily or solely) to attend IBM Connect 2017 remains to be seen.
But even in a worst case scenario, I fully expect many existing Domino applications will be around for some years before they are migrated or sunset. When they move, it may prompt some to reconsider the whole IBM portfolio within their organisation. In the meantime, retaining the knowledge to support them may be a greater challenge, particularly where advanced aspects of XPages have been used. For many companies on the migration path the approach has been to outsource support, admittedly for a lot longer than planned.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this tweet last night from IBM developerWorks, notably the first sentence.
— IBM developerWorks (@developerWorks) 24 August 2016