Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Future of Domino from the POV of an ISV

Many in the ICS community have made the statement that Notes and Domino are dead.

Many in the ICS community have been questioning the future of Domino and they have ever right to do so considering the lack of and inconsistent communication from IBM and lack of improvements to the platform for the past 4 years.  Yes we have had improvements regarding SSL security fixes but that was driven by the discovery of serious vulnerabilities in SSL.

Like many customers and IBM partners, we built many many Notes applications internally and for clients. Some of these applications are still running on many of our clients and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. They do not have the coolest interfaces since those capabilities weren't around even from other vendors at the time they were developed. They are clunky looking, but they are secure which is very important since the beginning of Notes and more so these days. 

IBM announced yesterday that they are extending support for Domino at least until 2021 and will be providing incremental enhancements to Domino through fix and feature packs which I am glad to hear. Personally, I dislike the naming convention for future releases which will be provided as feature packs. I thought it was confusing and did not project the feeling that Notes and Domino were vibrant products. IBM should start with a different naming convention given that they are switching to incremental enhancements through feature packs.

Over 5 years ago, we started making the transition from a consulting firm to an ISV. As an ISV that provide business solutions either through mobile or web client, the naming convention is irrelevant for us. Customers never sees the version number nor they even know that it is Domino at the core.

There are three types of ISVs for Domino. Looking at our wonderful MWLUG sponsors, you have application ISVs like Riva CRM Integration who develop applications that works on Domino, you have IBM ICS product ISVs like BCC, Crossware, HADSL, panagenda, RPR Wyatt, Teamstudio and Ytria that enhances and augments the ICS product portfolio, and then you have us, Phora Group. Why do we separate ourselves from other ISVs?  

We wanted a scalable multi-tenant application architecture with data security being the up-most of importance. For Phora Group, Domino is a JSON-based NoSQL database infrastructure comparable to MongoDB, CouchDB and Couchbase but data security built into it core architecture. It is an application/database server.  When we started the process of developing iPhora, we looked at developing it using these other technologies.  However, the advantage of Domino is that authentication, data distribution, web services, integration, data security, application logic and many others things are built into its architecture all packaged into a small but scalable footprint. There are stuff in Domino that just isn't that easy to duplicate using other platforms.  

When we designed iPhora, we wanted its architecture to be database infrastructure agnostic and if needed, we could transition it to other database technologies.  So we developed the iPhora architecture as abstraction layers with application logic driven through RESTful services that are surfaced with a JavaScript-based MVC. The architecture is based on what many call "modern" or "cooler" approaches. We redesigned many of the functionalities in Domino including security and data management all of which can be transitioned to different platforms. The core components found in Domino are what is important to us and is what makes Domino unique.

So from our unique POV as an ISV as long as Domino is alive and kicking it is good news for us. Based on what we are hearing from IBM, the core Domino technology will continue to be an integral part of our iPhora solutions. It provides us a unique platform unlike any other, even after 26 years.  My wish list is not more features, but separate Domino into core blocks and allow us ISVs to build Domino like Lego blocks to match our needs. Less is more.