An Amazing Engage

Last week I was at the Engage user group event in the Netherlands.  Theo Heselmans and team put together people, sessions and entertainment for over 400 attendees and this year (by my count of hands) nearly 30% were attending for the first time.  There are only a few IRL (in real life) conferences I can manage to get to each year and I’m always pleased by what I get out of them, but this year’s Engage was for me the best event for several years primarily because of contributions from HCL and all their news about what they have been working on. Oh, and the location!  Theo always manages to choose a special location and the Burgers’ Zoo conference center in Arnhem that had us walking through a rainforest with the sound of birds each day was certainly that.

This guy walked me in on the first day, giving me side-eye pretty much the whole way.

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The only thing that confused me was the milk that was put out for the tea and coffee.  I’ve never seen milk of that color before and since we were in a zoo there was a debate about the animal that produced it.  Maybe Giraffe…?

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On the closing night Theo organized a trip to a pub/brewery in Arnhem called Taphuis for us speakers.  They had over 100 beers and a contactless card you tapped as you poured out your choice.  I’m not a big beer drinker but I “tapped” a lot of 5cl tastes and then came up with the not very smart idea of everyone choosing a beer that matched their age.  Let’s just say it worked out for some better than for others.  

An idea that I think really worked was having an open speaker’s area where people could gather and catch up with each other, with other attendees and with HCL.  I had several informal meetings there and having no doors encouraged everyone to come and take a seat.  The unlimited Belgian chocolate and waffles didn’t hurt either.

So, at this point, with major updates to Domino, Connections, Sametime and new products like Nomad for mobile, the question for me was: Where are HCL taking things next?  The theme for the conference was “Evolve” and although I didn’t get to attend as many sessions as I would have liked, there were lots of “a-ha” moments for me where the work I’d been hearing about for a year suddenly clicked into place as solutions for customers.  

I could write a lot more on what I came away excited about, but these are my highlights.

Sametime
Let’s start with Sametime.  The biggest issue since v9 of Sametime (we’re now on v10) was the IBM-driven design that was dependent on the WebSphere and DB2 architectures.  I do a lot of Sametime installs and a clustered environment would be in the region of 30 individual server elements.  When HCL bought Sametime and asked for feedback on what we all wanted the biggest request was to simplify the install and get rid of WebSphere.  Since then, HCL have released v10 and v11 of Sametime, which were primarily the Community (chat) servers and new web and mobile clients, so this time at Engage we got to see and hear about the v11 Sametime Meetings due in the next few months.

Sametime v11 already has user-side integration with any conferencing provider, but Sametime Meetings will now be delivered as a single Docker container (instead of nearly 20 servers) with everything needed to deliver its own meetings, audio, video and screen sharing in one single install.  The entire architecture for Meetings has been replaced with open source servers, removal of java, and a fast, lightweight browser client.  The focus for v11 has been ease of use for clients and simplification for administrators and it looks like they are delivering.  

If you’re interested in the new Sametime v11 mobile clients, you can register for the beta here.

Domino
As development continues on Domino, including making it the backbone for many of the other products, it was tremendous news to hear that they are now extending the investment in its function as a mail server.  The news that Domino continues to be updated and enhanced, such as adding 2-factor authentication for both web and Notes clients in v12, is what many of us had been hoping to hear from HCL.  For on-premise customers, Domino continues to be the only strategic mail solution and the only one currently being extended.  

HCL Nomad Web
Hopefully you already know about and are using Nomad for mobile, available for iOS, iPadOS and (as of last week) Android.  The Nomad brand delivers the Notes client experience through a mobile OS allowing you to access your existing Notes applications on your Domino servers without installing any server-side software or making any programming changes.  The next Nomad product is Nomad Web which is truly a new option as a Notes client.  It’s not a replacement client but it will be a go-to for many people who want to access Notes applications without managing a client infrastructure.  

Nomad Web is based on browser technology so it will work on any operating system (Windows, Linux , Mac) that can run any standard browser, giving you a “Notes client” with a small install footprint (they are aiming at less than 100mb) and running anywhere.  This is all very exciting; it looks like a Notes client, it doesn’t require a client install, it can run on multiple platforms, and since there is no server-side installation it will work against older versions of Domino as well as current.  

That’s innovation, offering an easy-to-maintain-and-deploy client as an option to both existing and new customers.  HCL Nomad Web will be going into public beta in the next couple of months.

Domino Volt
Volt is a Domino-based, visual, low-code development environment that is delivered through a browser.  What does that actually mean? I attended a workshop at Engage to learn how to develop an application using Volt because I’m absolutely not a developer and so consider myself a good test case.  After logging in to the Domino server I can click to create a form, drag and drop to position all kinds of fields, images and text, and even click for simple workflow.  It provides a way for anyone to create simple applications that can be extended for more complex work by a developer who can still use all the Domino programming tools, integration, and reporting technologies.

The introduction of an entirely new development tool aimed at non-developers and delivered through any standard browser is really interesting and I recommend attending the upcoming webinar as well as signing up for the Volt beta that is now publicly available.  Working with the beta allows you to feed back to HCL on what features you think might be missing and to contribute into getting the product right.

Register for the Domino Volt beta here.
Register for the Domino Volt webinar here.

If you go to the Engage site, you can already download many of the presentations. It’s not the same as being there in person, but there’s a ton of valuable content even for those of us who didn’t get to as many sessions as we wanted.

Looking forward to Engage 2021 already!

It’s Not Dead – It’s Evolving

The most revelatory thing I saw at Engage was a presentation from Doug Conmy and Thomas Hampel on HCL Nomad Web. I’d been aware of its development but it was only from watching the presentation that I realised what it means for customers. What it means in the future is that you will be able to deploy an application through any browser and then run it as a standalone desktop application. It should give you access to your Notes applications as if it were a Notes client but without being a Notes client. It’s not intended to replace Notes but for many customers who want to access their mail or some Domino applications, they simply don’t need the full feature set of a Notes client.

Here’s the thing though,

  • It looks just like a Notes client
  • The target download size will be under 100Mb
  • It still uses a Notes ID downloaded from the vault like any other client
  • It can run against any older Domino server since it uses port 1352 and there’s no additional server configuration (although you will need to have up-to-date licensing)
  • Since it supports most common browsers it can be deployed on Windows, OSX, Linux or any platform those browsers can run on
  • Multiple Nomad applications opened as separate desktop entities will be aware of each other as if they were in the same client window
  • It uses 1352 encrypted traffic but has a Nomad web proxy you deploy that will tunnel over 443 from the client so you won’t need to have a Domino passthru server or open any 1352 ports from the outside

Mind. Blown.

For companies struggling to deploy or maintain the full Notes client this is a huge deal. Having a centrally managed, low impact, multi-platform client that can access any Domino database on a Domino server without either the application or the server needing to be upgraded is something no other software company is doing. I hate to overuse the word but this is true innovation and it goes into public beta in the next few months with a beta timeline of at least 4 months.

HCL are taking getting this right very seriously because if they can get it right it really is a game changer.

Take a look at Template Experience

Next week the TE team will be presenting at Engage with the version we hope to soon put into beta. There has been a lot of work completed in the past few months and the developers have really come up with clever solutions for seemingly impossible problems, all using standard Domino Designer techniques and code.

I hope to see you at our session at 1.30pm on Tuesday, we’ve got a lot to show and explain. If you can’t make it then I will be updating the site over the coming weeks with more information including hopefully where to get the beta version and design whitepaper.

For a preview of what you can see next week go here

All About That Volt (v11 launch)

We are still a few hours out from the v11 launch event for Domino and Sametime live from Tokyo (https://www.cwpcollaboration.com/blogs/join-us-for-a-live-broadcast-from-tokyo-december-4-our-global-product-launch) but there is already much talk about “Volt” a low code (maybe no code) development tool.

I found this great short demo video which shows what it is better than I can explain having not touched it myself. Very smart stuff that enables rapid simple application development that can work on mobile, be extended with more complex programming if required, and easily integrated with other systems such as sharepoint or salesforce.

Looking forward to hearing all the news in only 6 hours.

HCLs New Licensing Model

Today at Let’s Connect (previously Socal Connections) in Munich, Uffe Sorensen from HCL presented the outline of the new licensing model HCL plan to adopt from v11 of Domino onwards. HCL are looking for feedback on this as they plan to bring all other products into line as things progress.

I apologise in advance for any misunderstandings on my part from Uffe’s presentation but I wanted to highlight the key points as I see them.

Flexnet
HCL, as some of you know, are using Flexnet now for software downloads. If you have a license agreement you now download all software and patches from the Flexnet server. In the future (as of v11), you will provision software from the Flexnet server and it will maintain a count of your company’s active sessions.

The cloud-based Flexnet server will be able to track and make visible to you the number of user licenses you are currently consuming. It is not HCL’s intention to disable your services should your license usage exceed what you bought, but they will count “overages” and, after a month’s grace, the plan is to auto-bill those. That would give you a month to bring your licensing back down to the purchased level or be invoiced.

Let’s come back to that in a bit…

Licensing
IBM’s licensing model for Domino and Notes was fairly complex. Although there were CEO licenses which were per-user, they had limitations. There were Express licenses which were limited to having only 1000 users in the directory and restricted the number of clustered servers you could have, there was a Utility Server license which allowed unlimited web application access but required you to track your processor usage or be charged for “full capacity”. I could go on but I won’t, let’s leave that in the past.

HCL have committed to two things:

  1. A simpler pricing model
  2. No “sticker shock” for existing customers who will be able to transfer their licensing to this new model.

Model 1: Per User
In this model you buy a license for every user or account that will access your servers. Regardless of purpose or client. That’s what Flexnet will track. The user license will allow access to any servers or applications you need. There is no limitation on server use or processor use.

The Per User model can be licensed as a monthly cost or as a persistent license with a S&S renewal. The monthly price was something previously only applied to cloud licenses so that’s now an option for customers who prefer to license that way and maybe have a more dynamic user count.

Model 2: Platform
In this model, still very much evolving, instead of licensing a user, you license a server based on its usage and that allows unlimited users access to it. For example the usage may be measured by number of NSFs on each server and the license could be based on a tier level for buying these licenses (such as x hundred NSFs, 1000 NSFs etc) but those haven’t been published (or even decided) yet. In the platform model you pay for server usage not user activity but the measure won’t be around hardware as it was with IBM who measured processor usage, it will likely be by NSF instance, so if you do have 3 servers each with 5 NSFs then that is 15 NSFs out of your license pool.

The platform license will be able to be billed monthly per NSF tier or as a persistent license with annual S&S.

So in summary HCL have attempted to streamline the previous license model to just two options , remove the need for any audits and ensure that you are aware of your license consumption whilst removing the need for you to track things like individual server or processor usage. It’s not a bad approach by any means, and I’ll certainly be glad to see the back of the express licensing and the limited licensing models we had previously that just led to confusion.

Like you I had about 1000 questions, including how the Flexnet licensing monitoring will work for customers that cannot support a cloud connection to the HCL licensing system. For those customers there will be an on-premise Flexnet offering that allows licenses to be tracked internally and subsequently reported to HCL.

The plan is to deploy the cloud-based Flexnet license engine in v11 of Domino and Notes Q4 2019 for per user licensing. As an initial launch this will be cloud tracking only and there will be no overage support / charges. The more fully realised Flexnet licensing including the platform license model and overages will be in 11.0.1 due in Q1 2020.

If you are an existing customer you can today continue to renew your existing licenses on new HCL part numbers but under the same terms you already have.

HCL have emphasised many times that this is an evolving license strategy and they are keen to hear feedback and especially use cases that they may not have allowed for. The details of the licensing including the pricing are still being formulated but this is a sincere attempt to remove previous barriers and confusion around the wide variety of license options, plus the commitment to maintaining license parity (“no sticker shock”) is a good one.

Here we goooooooooooooooo

I’m delighted to finally see the completion of the HCL deal to acquire all of the previous IBM Collaboration products including Notes, Domino, Sametime and Connections. This means that as of today IBM no longer has any ownership of these products and any current and future licenses and support have been transitioned to HCL.

As you can imagine this has been a huge undertaking (well I can barely imagine much of it) and so I expect a few bumps before everything settles in but HCL have already been working hard to get everything (and most everybody) moved over and let’s all give then a chance. They believe in the products and are committed to them in a way we haven’t seen in many years and it’s great news that some of the most well known names in the industry are moving over to HCL to join their Domino and Sametime colleagues including Maureen Leland, Mat Newman, Wes Morgan, Adam Gartenberg and Dave Kern. There are plenty of other people I could mention but since they haven’t personally gone public I don’t want to do so.

I’ve been working with the HCL teams for over a year and I can’t say enough good things about their approach, it is something very refreshing to those of us who have been jaded by the past few years.

http://bit.ly/HCLSoftware

I (Truly) Know Nothing But….

I have no idea the status of the HCL/IBM deal nor what will happen once the deal is signed and IBM no longer have any ownership of the (former) ICS products BUT….

I will be spending the rest of this week downloading any ICS software and fixes I might potentially need over the coming weeks from the IBM Software Access Catalog and Fix Central sites.

I am sure both HCL and IBM have plans for transitioning the downloads and all the data but this is a huge deal and personally I’d like to be self sufficient on day 1 (whenever that is).

Redesigning Templates – A HCL Design Project

I’m very pleased to announce the launch of a new project I am working on with HCL to reinvigorate the Notes and Domino templates as they roll out on new client platforms such as iPhone, tablet and a lightweight web client. See here for more information on the project.

My role is team co-ordinator and I will be responsible for bringing in the right resources to meet each stage of the project. I’ll be working closely with the team leads including HCLs design lead Felix Kalka, Theo Heselmans, Carl Tyler and Tim Davis. More about our team here

We’ll be keeping you updated on progress, asking for feedback and gathering ideas through the blog and surveys. We want to start with a very quick survey on discussions and teamrooms, please take a few minutes to complete it.

We really need your input if we’re going to get this right https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/96LYTDK

If you are attending the Factory Tour in Chelmsford in July I will be there with Felix to talk about our work so far, to hear about your use cases and to share ideas for each client platform. If you aren’t at the Factory Tour and would like to discuss your use of any of the standard templates, please reach out directly to me via twitter (@gabturtle) or email (gabriella at turtlepartnership.com).

Details of the project, the team and our goals can be round on the new Template Experience blog here https://templateexperience.com. We plan to keep the blog updated with our progress, sharing ideas and asking you to complete surveys as we move forward.

This is a great opportunity to push our design thinking beyond the traditional framework and I thank HCL for commiting to the project and work involved.

A Few Days In Brussels #EngageUG

I have just returned from Engage UG – Theo Heselmans’ European conference, this year held at Autoworld in Brussels.  A beautiful location, even for someone who cares little for cars (but enjoys belgian beer, frites and chocolate).

With over 400 attendees, this was the largest Engage yet and I thought the energy level and excitement was higher than before due I think to the presence of vast numbers of the HCL team who were not only presenting but out in force in roundtables, social events and random “stop in the hallway” questions.

As the clock ticks down to the final signing of the contract to acquire Domino, Sametime, Traveler, Connections, etc, from IBM and transfer them in entirety to HCL we are all just waiting for that starting gun.

Richard Jefts brought some good news and the vision that HCL has for all the products they are taking on – see the prominence of Notes & Domino as well as (to my surprise and delight) Sametime.  Sametime is a significant part of HCL’s “Better Connected World” story. The intention, as you can see from other items on the wheel, is to open integration to other technologies and systems as a priority.  You will see an item on the wheel called “LEAP” and wonder what that is, it is the renamed Forms Experience Builder central to HCLs low-code development initiative. Think drag-and-drop form building through the web.

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There were probably 25% new attendees who had never been to Engage before. My session on Exchange on-premises and Domino at 8am had a nearly full room which is very unusual for an early technical session.  Tim’s session on DQL was also full.  All of our sessions will be published here over the next few days.

I also participated in a round table on template modernisation.  I will talk more about that on a later blog but I am co-ordinating a team who are working on updating the existing templates such as discussions and teamrooms. A demo of our live app  for iPhone was presented at Engage and the screenshot below showing the discussions template as it currently is (left), our app (in the middle) and the possible path it could take as iDMA progresses (on the right) gives you some idea of what we’re doing. iDMA is the Notes client currently for tablets and soon for iPhones.

Screenshot 2019-05-16 at 18.37.19

Speaking to Maxx Sutton @ HCL who heads up the iDMA development team, it’s clear there is an opportunity for both supporting existing and reimagining new Notes applications as iDMA itself develops.   For instance, the icon on the bottom right of the “where we could be heading” screenshot would be a ‘create new’ action that would automatically generate to support any “create” action that appears in the view in Notes. Still early days obviously, and I’ll be reaching out to the Community each step of the way.

Of course as usual our speaker gifts (both Tim and I spoke) were bang on.  Tim is researching if he can paint my yellow mini the grey and black of our own but I’m not sure I want to risk it.

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Once more – a huge thank you to Theo, Hilde, the HCL team, all the sponsors (including us :-), speakers and attendees plus the barman at the Sofitel who kindly brought drinks up to the roof for us.

Language Packs, Verse and A New App Dev Pack, Someone Has Had A Busy Week..

Well a bit more than a week.

This week the G1 language packs for Notes 10.0.1 that include French, German, Japanese, Italian, Brazilian, Chinese and Korean were made available.  If you are now having a bit of deja vu that’s because these language packs were already released once and very quickly withdrawn when it was discovered there were considerable problems in the way the translations had been done.  To their credit HCL withdrew the products almost immediately when they were told of the issues and have been working to redo and re-release them all.

So why were the bad versions released at all?  This goes back to the transfer from IBM to HCL.  In the IBM days there was a large team who were entirely responsible for product translation but weren’t part of the collaboration development team, they were just a general IBM product translation team.  When HCL took over the products they didn’t inherit that team which meant they also didn’t inherit any of the knowledge that team had about the quirks and challenges when doing the Notes translations.  HCL went ahead with having the translations done without realising the hurdles they needed to verify. None of that is great but in my opinion it shows commitment and intent that they withdrew the products almost immediately and then made redoing the translations correctly their highest priority.  They have also committed to a day 1 release of G1 languages with English in future versions.

So we had a stumble but one that was publicly claimed, explained and fixed quickly.  I can’t expect more than that.

Last week was the release of the new update to App Dev pack for Domino v 1.0.1 which includes the Node.js integration features that can now be depoloyed under Windows as well as Linux.

The new IAM (Identity and Access Management) service provides OAuth authentication for applications running outside Domino to Domino resources.  By installing IAM you can authorise it to use LDAP over Domino or Active Directory as its IdP (identity provider) for authenticating users.  There are a few steps in setting up IAM including setting up secure LDAPS in Domino or Active Directory so I’ll be covering that in more detail on its own blog.

More on the App Dev Pack update here and IAM specifically here

Last week we also got an update to Verse on Premises ( v1.0.7 ) which I have rolled out for a few customers so far.   The deployment if you already have verse installed is very easy (just make sure you back up your Plugins folder before deleting the old files). Here is a list of new features including some significant calendar enhancements and work towards providing the Verse UI on mobile browsers where it’s not appropriate to use the Verse app.

Lastly I heard very good things about the Connections workshop (jam) in Switzerland this week with the product team working to brainstorm ideas on Connections wanted features.  I will be attending the London workshop next week and look forward to hearing more.