The market ecosystem around Lotus Notes and Domino is filled with numerous business partner wares designed to improve the experience of owning/deploying/managing a Notes and Domino infrastructure. Over the years, we have seen many of these partner tools become de rigeur best-in-class componentry for making the lives of Notes/Domino admins, architects, and developers easier while improving the bottom line costs of the environment.

For the last couple of years, IBM's salesforce in North America has had a limited partnership with Trust Factory b.v., a Dutch business partner headed by Wouter Aukema. Trust Factory's Domino Network Analysis (DNA) tool examines the overall health of a Notes/Domino deployment, identifies deployment issues and opportunities for improved operations, and provides comparative analysis against industry norms and experiences.

During a customer engagement in 2011, I had the opportunity to work closely with Trust Factory and the DNA tool for the first time. While the individual details of that scenario are private, what we collectively learned was how substantial an investment in Notes/Domino applications the customer had made, and how these applications could be consolidated and delivered in a more cost-effective way.  DNA gathers information about infrastructure and application layers and provides easy-to-understand output that visualizes current state. Stepping away from marketing speak, these are great "pointy-haired boss" analysis charts that anyone can understand, and lay plain in concrete data terms how an organization uses Notes and Domino today.

An example, lifted from Trust Factory's website:

Image:IBM and Trust Factory expanding partnership

My experience, and that of the sales organization's, in working with Trust Factory was so powerful that we decided to expand the partnership. IBM sales teams, and in the future, business partners, will have increased access to the Trust Factory DNA Lite! tool, on a consultative basis. I've put a strong team in place to accelerate the use of this tool, including a familiar face to the community, Viktor Krantz.

I can't get into the specifics of how and when we will use this tool in a public blog posting. It's not something that can be carpet-bombed out to every single Notes/Domino customer, though that would be nice. However, in some key opportunities, we are now bringing the strength of solid, factual data to a conversation about future strategy and direction that often takes place on an emotional level. In every case I've watched over the last year, the fact-based discussion changes the dynamic, and a logical business decision usually results. Customers are happier as they implement optimizations and changes to their environments to make them more secure and reliable and cost effective, and of course as the vendor, I'm happier with a satisfied customer.

Posting about this publicly is a bit risky for me. I expect my inbox to light up with opportunities to work with this tool from IBMers and partners and even customers directly (heads-up, there's a queue already); and then there are, obviously, many other tools in the ecosystem that can help with improving Notes/Domino deployments.

To the partners who have created and labored over building such tools, I thank you. This blog post is not an open solicitation for partnership :-)  We know the ecosystem pretty well and are always looking for the right ways to partner, but given the size and diversity of the Notes/Domino customer base, it is not easy to bring IBM into the equation as a direct channel to customers. Given the right value, of course, these opportunities are self-evident, and I hope to do more like this partnership with Trust Factory in the future.

Meanwhile, I am sharing the good news externally because it should be a clear sign that we are continuing to invest in the health and value of the Notes/Domino investment that 50,000+ organizations have made worldwide. In addition to tactical steps like this one, obviously we have major milestones ahead with the release next quarter of Notes/Domino 8.5.4 Social Edition, including the Notes browser plug-in announced at Lotusphere 2012. All of these steps are indicative of the value associated with your service and support contract with IBM, or in restarting such an agreement now.

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