Notes FUD-making or not?

April 14 2006

In comments to Wednesday's blog entry on Computerworld New Zealand's interview with Ken Bisconti, Paul Robichaux -- an Exchange consultant who has done some competitive roadshows for Microsoft -- challenges Bisconti's assertion that "Frankly, those ['Notes is going to disappear' statements] are rumours started by Microsoft.  Their competitive tactic is to try to convince customers that Notes is not being invested in. They have been doing that for a couple of years now, and looking fairly foolish".  Paul writes:

Now, you guys can put as much lipstick on that as you want, but it's clear to anyone reading that where IBM was headed *at the time*. Of course, Mills upset a lot of Notes customers when he said that. You've had to figure out how to unring that particular bell. Microsoft has certainly pointed out IBM's change in direction, but to blame Microsoft for this is ignoring the facts. IMHO at the time Mills clearly thought Notes was heading for the scrapheap, and minced no words in saying so."
Robichaux refers to the interview where IBM's Steve Mills described the next version of Notes after 6 as being "a Websphere-based version".  And yes, that article was the source of much consternation, earning me a fire extinguisher in the process.  It was also more than four years ago, and yes, the strategy has changed (marketing would probably say "been refined") since then.

So in challenging Paul's statement, I pointed out that while yes, IBM was responsible for some of the confusion in the market in the past, the 2006 FUD is more of Microsoft's doing, and that Robichaux himself is one of the sources.  He and I discussed this via e-mail a few weeks ago, and he has challenged me to publish that e-mail.  He's doing so because he knows I let the discussion drop, and gave up talking to the wall.  But, now that it's out there, let's examine the relevant parts of the discussion...I'll share the full e-mail upon request:
1.        The Exchange & Outlook Update, March 15, 2006, says, emphasis mine, "I expect this situation to change as the battle between Microsoft and IBM intensifies; IBM is pushing Notes, and its successor, Workplace Collaboration Services, as a future-proof way to protect existing investments, whereas Microsoft is countering with the argument that its platform offers better technology, a lower total cost, and more functionality to boot. "  
2.        I wrote to Paul and his editors challenging the bolded statement.
3.        Paul replied by quoting a number of articles from ibm.com as well as an article I authored on messagingpipeline.com.  He summarized that "I think there's ample evidence to support the claim that Workplace will be the eventual successor to Notes, although you're welcome to try to convince me that the quotes I cite mean something different."  Note that now the claim is that "Workplace" is the successor, which is not what was written in the newsletter.  So the story has already changed on Robichaux's side.
4.        I then replied that neither statement is accurate -- that Notes will a Workplace client plug-in in "Hannover".  " Notes will be a plug-in running in the Workplace Managed client.  The underlying technology is then the same thing.  ... The Notes "Hannover" release still uses replication (though we might call it synchronization to conform to current UI conventions), still uses NSF, still uses NRPC, still has forms and views, still does everything Notes does today -- because it is Notes."
5.        Paul then opined back that I've got it backwards -- that WMC will subsume Notes, thus becoming a "replacement" or an "alternative".  Still, he concluded the discussion with, "To sum up, WCS doesn't replace the Notes client, but in the end I still think WMC will."

OK, so fairly clearly, by the last response, Paul had agreed in writing that the assertion made in the Exchange&Outlook newsletter, that WCS is the successor to Notes, was inaccurate.  However, four weeks later, no correction to this FUD has been issued.  I didn't bother to respond because, well, I guess I figured since we had agreement that the original published statement was inaccurate, it would be addressed.

But what of Robichaux's assertion that Workplace Managed Client is a replacement for Notes?  This is still a distortion of the Notes "Hannover" plan.  "Hannover" is Notes.  It is being built and delivered on the WMC framework, which itself is atop the Eclipse 3.0 Rich Client Platform.  By doing so, Notes is opening up to new capabilities as an Eclipse-based SOA client, meaning Notes "Hannover" does more than Notes 7 (as Notes 7 did more than Notes 6 or R5 or whatever).  Will you need the Eclipse-based client for Notes "Hannover"?  Yes, though the plan is also to deliver an more-narrow update of the "traditional" Notes client, too.  But the deployment of the Eclipse-based version will be self-contained in both Notes and Domino -- yes, incorporating technology pieces that today are sold and delivered as Workplace Collaboration Services or Workplace Managed Client, but not requiring a Notes customer to buy or deploy either of those products.  The flaw in Paul's argument is applying the architecture in place for Workplace Managed Client 2.6 today to the Notes "Hannover" of tomorrow.

I understand completely that Notes "Hannover"'s move forward in terms of technology takes time to understand.  It's my job to make sure that the story gets out there straight.  There's more that needs to be published in terms of white papers, demos, etc., as we get closer to beta.  Presentations at Admin2006 and DNUG/IBM Lotus Technical Forum will help.  But ask your questions now, so collectively we can make sure the FUD fizzles out.

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