There's one topic left from my Japan trip a few weeks ago, and the fact that I haven't been able to get around to writing about it is somewhat ironic.  One of the topics that came up in almost every meeting I had in Japan was Notes/Domino upgrades, and the rate and pace of upgrades.

I've known for years that the Japanese market is unique in its consideration of software upgrades.  When I surveyed the Notes Consortium attendees in Shibuya, I learned that 10% or so are still actively using Notes R5 in their environments.  The vast majority are using 6.5, and only a few are running Notes 7.  Matsuo-san was demonstrating Notes V1, but we'll assume that wasn't his active work environment :-)

In Japan, if they implement something and it works, they keep using it, rather than change for change's sake. On the brand-new Shinkansen Nozomi N700 trains, no in-seat video has been added, there aren't flat panel displays of advertisements...just a simple LED-dot-matrix news and announcement ticker at the end of each car...the same as it was ten years ago.

As we are weeks away from shipping Notes/Domino 8, this will mark a fairly unique period where Notes/Domino 6.5, 7, and 8 will all be supported simultaneously.  In due time, the next major release of Notes/Domino will be along as well.  Few software vendors make this kind of commitment to supporting customer-controlled migration.  I talked to a Peoplesoft consultant over the weekend who mentioned that many of their customers are upgrading simply because an older version has gone unsupported.  IBM even addresses that contingency in the Notes/Domino world by offering extended support contracts on older releases.

Still, I occasionally hear a concern expressed that IBM is shipping too many new versions of Notes/Domino.  This surprises me, given tools like SmartUpgrade and how web-based tools update (on-client or as services) all the time.  I think the release cycle for Notes/Domino is right where I want it to be, a good balance of new releases and time to adopt them... with, most importantly and fairly uniquely, the compatibility built-in to be able to skip a release and/or deploy mixed environments.  The alternating client and server focus helps, too.  It will be interesting to watch the rate and pace of Notes/Domino 8 upgrade -- most early indicators are that there is going to be a lot of upgrading, even in the .0 timeframe and for sure when .0.1 arrives.  Rather than make my own conclusions based on market research alone...what are your plans around ND8?  Wait and see, run-run-run, or dot-oh-one?

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