A New Base – A New Hope – A New Beginning. Factory Tours Episode 2

This week I spent time in Milan at HCL’s 2nd factory tour at their offices.   It was an intense couple of days, with presentations from the development teams working on Domino, Notes, Nomad, Sametime, DQL, etc, as well as HCL executives working on building the support program, the partner program, and HCL’s client advocacy program.

After several great discussions with people from HCL and IBM all I can say is that things are moving F-A-S-T and thank you in particular to Richard Jefts, Russ Holden, John Curtis, Tony Blake, Pat Galvin and Francois Nasser for listening to my ideas even if they end up being unworkable.

Note there was no discussion of Connections at all as that deal with IBM is not finalised and HCL aren’t in a position to discuss it. HCL are targeting April 1st for the deal and early June for everything to be transitioned over, with the v11 beta this summer and the v11 launch around end of Q4.

Here are some highlights that I noted from the conversations and sessions that I want to share here.  I apologise if I have incorrectly noted what I heard.

Domino (presented by Russ Holden) – v11 Features 

  • Directory Sync from Active Directory to Domino Directory. Renames made in AD will trigger a Domino rename.  Attempting to get rid of or at least minimise the HTTP password field and make AD authoritative.  We had discussions about whether attributes in AD should/could be written to by Domino or if AD was to be the single authoritative and management source.
  • HTTP password authentication via ID Vault instead of person document, including the ability to keep the Notes password and HTTP password in the vault in sync.*Those of us who work with Traveler know the risk of changing the HTTP password until we get client certificate authentication in Traveler, and we shared that with Russ as well.
  • DAOS will still exist but in v11 there will also be Cloud Object Storage where a single instance of an attachment per note ID will be stored in Amazon’s S3 cloud by default but with the option for extensions to other servers.The concept is that it would potentially save on both on premises storage costs and backup requirements for the attachment store.  It’s not intended to be a space saving offering over DAOS as although there will be one instance of an attachment regardless of cluster replicas, that instance is based on the note id of the document.  That means whereas with DAOS an email sent to 40 people will generate only a single NLO on each cluster server, with this model there would be 40 attachments all accessible by any server in the cluster.  How appropriate this will be as a solution will be dependent on your storage and backup requirements as well as your typical mail usage.
  • A new PubSub feature that will allow applications to subscribe for updates that Domino will publish rather than poll for them.  Traveler is a good example, currently Traveler scans each user’s mail file on a polled interval to see if there are updates and if there are it then grabs them to send to your device. Polling databases asking for “anything new to tell me” is a lot of unnecessary overhead when the alternative is Domino publishing updates each time there is activity (note adds, deletes, folder adds etc).  The ability to subscribe to specific databases you want immediate activity on and for Domino to publish that activity to you as it happens obviously has a huge scope beyond performance outside of Domino as well.Which leads us to…
  • Using ElasticSearch for searching which will utilise the PubSub functionality in order to get immediate updates to process.  ElasticSearch will be configurable on a database-by-database basis including the option to have it take the place of Domino FT search.  One of my issues with ElasticSearch is its security model and they are also working on an API to address that so that we get security parity with the current FT search model.
  • Message recall for undelivered (scheduled or queued) mail.

The Clients (presented by Andrew Davis, Maxx Sutton, Barry Rosen)

The focus for v11 is very much around the client delivery and UI.

There is a new UI under development for Notes and some of its key templates that modernises it and brings it more in line with the UI design of Verse.  These are early stages but they will be part of the v11 ship.  Verse continues to be extended with very welcome upcoming support for mobile browsers and a goal to have parity with iNotes by the end of this year.

HCL Nomad, currently on public beta for iPad (yes, they know we want it SHIPPED) was demoed for Android and ChromeOS at Think and to us this week.  iPhone is also on the way.  To develop for Android HCL used OpenGL and that code can also be compiled as WebGL which, using WebAssembly, will enable Nomad to run in most browsers with the same fidelity and behaviour as on the mobile devices.

I’m not saying that would give us a lightweight client but it would totally give us a lightweight client that could be used in something like HCL Places for instance.

Sametime (presented by Pat Galvin)

Sametime 10 Limited Use, that now includes mobile entitlement, is on track to be delivered in the first half of this year.  The persistent chat feature that allows chats to be routed to multiple devices you are logged into will, in the first instance, require MongoDB with Domino coming “later”.  I have a big problem with this.  Neither me nor my customers want to bring the overhead of MongoDB into a Domino site just for this single feature regardless of how welcome that feature is.  I hope HCL prioritise “later” as “soonest” to be honest otherwise I suspect we’ll be deploying v10 of Sametime initially without its biggest feature.

Platforms will be Windows initially then Linux.  All 64bit.

Sametime will be released lock step with Domino, so at the end of this year Domino 11 will support the product released as Sametime 11.  Targeted for release with v11 is Docker deployment and support for integration with Zoom, Webex, etc. Stretch goals for v11 include getting rid of the Sametime System Console and the ability to invite external guests into chats.

In addition, they are looking to deliver chat enhancements in v11 such as read status on messages, @mentions, and multi-device file transfer so you can select which device a received file is downloaded to as well as choosing which device to answer an audio / video call on if you are logged into multiple devices.

Finally for meetings I’m delighted to hear that they are working to remove the accursed browser plugins for audio and video from v11.

Sametime 12+ includes targets that are stretch goals on v11 and additional targets such as removing WebSphere and DB2.

DQL (Presented by John Curtis)

The 1.0.1 Appdev pack which contains all the functionality you need to deploy DQL from Node is out this quarter.  The plan is to have quarterly updates to the Appdev pack introducing new features.  Some things planned for future updates include:

OAuth authentication.  This is a huge deal and has to be done right.  DQL only works as a solution if we can maintain the same security model that Domino gives us and OAuth has the ability to give us that.   Currently the OAuth implementation in the Appdev pack is application level, meaning one identity shared by anyone using that application which means no reader fields of custom user security.

They are working to support on-the-fly computation of formulas to support things like computed for display fields.

For searching there will be support for both FT Search and the new ElasticSearch with indexes created across databases and in attachments where required.  Searching rich text and mime is also on the agenda.

These are just some of my highlights.  There was a lot more and if you want to get involved I highly recommend registering for Engage UG in Brussels this May (14/15) https://engage.ug.  It’s a free user group event and HCL will be there in force with a lot more to show, hopefully on the heels of some beta content.

If you want to add your own enhancement requests and suggestions definitely to go the aha! site and add them there.  Everyone who spoke said they monitored that site and many of the features that are coming are based on posts there.

https://domino.ideas.aha.io/

HCL Client Advocacy – (presented by John Immerman)

If you are a customer or a business partner please sign up for the Client Advocacy Program @ HCL.  John Paganetti and his team will connect you with a developer advocate who will work with you to make sure your requests are heard, your PMRs don’t stall, and your ideas are taken seriously.  Much of what they do is learning about how you use the tools and what your pain points and wishes are.  This speaks to the core of who HCL are and I can’t think of any other company who would commit skilled expert resources to these kind of relationships.  If you want to be heard go register here. There are 200 companies registered already with hundreds more requested and being personally contacted.  Nothing about this is automated so don’t pass up the opportunity.

https://www.cwpcollaboration.com

Support – (presented by Michael Fiorentino)

The support model is still transitioning over from IBM including hundreds of thousands of technotes and HCL are moving away from the Salesforce support interface that IBM use to a simpler more streamlined one.  The big question I wanted to ask was whether HCL would do away with the login requirement to read technotes or get patches.  Currently IBM require you to be a customer with a support license to be able to read technotes and find out what may be wrong.  I’ve always thought that’s crazy and I know it frustrates customers and partners alike.  Both Richard Jefts and Michael Fiorentino confirmed that is not how they plan to run things and that’s a great start.

Michael also wanted to understand the business partner requirements so he could structure things to make it easier for us to open calls at the right level of expertise and to do so on behalf of our customers in an easier way.  Michael has a frankly astonishing amount of work ahead of him to get the support structure right, but he was very open to all our ideas and comments and I honestly believe they are committed to doing this right and not “business as usual”.

I heard from more people there of really good IBM’ers who are moving to HCL. I don’t want to name them here as that’s their business but I’m delighted they are joining.

Let’s all work together and do great things.

 

 

Whooomf – All Change. HCL Buys The Shop…

According to this Press Release as of mid June 2019, HCL take ownership of a bunch of IBM products including Notes, Domino and Connections on premises. Right now and since late 2017 there has been a partnership with IBM on some of the products such as Notes, Domino, Traveler and Sametime* so this will take IBM out of the picture entirely. Here are my first “oh hey it’s 4am” thoughts on why that’s not entirely surprising or unwelcome news ..

HCL are all about leading with on premises, not cloud. The purchase of Connections is for on premises and there are thousands of customers who want to stay on premises. Every other provider is either entirely Cloud already or pushing their on premises customers towards it by starving their products of development and support (waves at Microsoft). *cough*revenue stream*cough*

HCL have shown in 2018 that they can innovate (Domino’s TCO offerings, Notes on the iPad, Node integration etc) , develop quickly and deliver on their promises. That’s been a refreshing change.

They must be pleased with the current partnership products to buy them and more outright.

When HCL started the partnership with IBM they brought on some of the best of the original IBM Collaboration development team and have continued to recruit at high speed. It was a smart move and one I hope they repeat across not just development but support and marketing too.

HCL already showed with “Places” that they have ideas for how collaboration tools could work (see this concept video https://youtu.be/CJNLmBkyvMo) and that’s good news for Connections customers who gain a large team and become part of a bigger collaboration story in a company that “gets it”.

Throughout 2018 HCL have made efforts to reach out repeatedly to customers and Business Partners, asking for our feedback and finding out what we want. From sponsoring user group events (and turning up in droves) around the world to hosting the factory tour in June at their offices in Chelmsford where we had two days of time with the developers and their upcoming technologies. I believe they have proven they understand what this community is about and how much value comes from listening and – yes – collaborating.

Tonight I am more optimistic for the future of these products and especially Connections than I have been in a while. HCL, to my experience, behave more like a software start up than anything else, moving fast, changing direction if necessary and always trying to lead by innovating. I hope many of the incredibly smart people at IBM (yes YOU) who have stood alongside these products for years do land at HCL if that’s what they want, it would be a huge loss if they don’t.

*HCL have confirmed that Sametime is included

Definitely different – a few days looking into the future with HCL (and IBM)

If this blog is tl:dr then here’s your takeaway

I can’t thank everyone at HCL enough for throwing open the doors and leaving them open. Together we will continue to innovate great things for customers

Last week Tim and I were invited to the 1st CWP Factory tour held by HCL at their offices in Chelmsford.  “CWP” stands for “Collaboration Workflow Platform” and includes not only the products HCL took over from IBM late last year such as Domino, Traveler, Verse on Premises and Sametime but also new products that HCL are developing as extensions of those.  These (that I can talk a little bit about) such as HCL Nomad (Notes for iPad) and HCL Places (a new client runnvetaing against Domino 10 and providing integrated collaborative services such as chat, AV , web and Notes applications) will be leapfrogging Domino far over its competitors.

I want to start by thanking HCL for inviting us inside to see their process. We met and made our voices heard with more than 30 developers and executives, all of who wanted to know “do you like this?”  “what are we missing?”.  I came away from the two days with a to-do list of my own at the request of various people to send in more details of problems or requirements I had mentioned when there.  John Paganetti, who is also a customer advocate at HCL, hosted the “ask the developers” impromptu session (we had so many questions so they threw one into the agenda on day 2).  We were told to get to know and reach out directly to the teams with our feedback and questions.  If you don’t have a route to provide feedback and want one then please reach out.

Back in February I attended a Domino Jam hosted by Andrew Manby (@andrewmanby) from IBM in London.  These were held all over the world and attendees were pushed to brainstorm around features that were missing or needed.  That feedback was used to create priorities for v10 and many of the features requested at my session and others have appeared in the current beta and are committed to a v10 release.  At the end of the 2nd day of the factory tour we again had a Domino Jam hosted by Andrew Manby but this time for Domino 11 features – wheeeeeeee!   With the Jams and the Destination Domino blog as well as the #domino2025 hashtag activity, IBM are really stepping up to the products in a way they haven’t in several years.  I want to recognise the hard work being done by Andrew, by Uffe Sorensen, and by Mat Newman amongst others, to make this IBM/HCL relationship work.

So what was the factory tour? It was a 2 day conference held at HCL’s (still being built) offices. I am pleased to say it was put together very informally, we were split into groups of about 10 (hi Daniel, Francie, Julian, Richard, Paul, Nathan, Devin, Fabrice!) and one by one the development teams came and took our feedback on the work they are doing.  We worked with the Verse (on premises) team, the TCO team (looking at the Domino and Sametime servers), the Notes client team, the Nomad team and the Application Development team.  It was an intense day in a good way with so much information being shared with us and questions being asked of us.  It was also good to be told that the majority of what we saw and discussed could be shared publicly.

A few highlights (out of many) from the two days that were new to me:

  • The new database repair and folder sync features in Domino 10 (shame on me for not remembering what they are called). The database repair feature will detect when a database is corrupted and replace it whilst the server is running with a new instance from a working cluster mate (another good reason to cluster).  The folder sync feature will keep any  Domino database files or NLOs in any listed folders in sync.  This stuff is so cool and exactly what Domino clustering needed so we asked for them to extend the sync feature to include any files in the HTML directory such as HTML CSS and CGI scripts and they are considering that (v10 is a tight delivery timeline right now so no guarantees of anything).
  • Some very candid discussions (I think repeated multiple times by everyone there) about getting rid of WebSphere for Sametime in the future and how to better provide Sametime services purely under Domino.
  • HCL Places looking much evolved even in the few weeks since it was first shown at Engage – this is going to be a game changer client when it comes out.
  • The Domino General Query Facility (DGQF) available in Domino 10 is the biggest investment in Notes/Domino code in 10 years. A query language accessible outside Domino that doesn’t require any  knowledge of Domino design by a developer.  Using DGQF you can rapidly query collections of documents represented by any criteria not necessarily views or forms.  Using DGQF a regular web developer would be able to build a Node application, for instance, using back-end Domino data without ever having to learn the structure of the Domino database or touch Domino Designer.  Here’s a sneaky picture I took of the positioning for DGQF.John Curtis who is the lead designer behind DGQF has been very responsive on twitter to questions about how it will work (@john_d_curtis)IMG_0313
  • A lot of stuff Nomad and Node related which is still NDA but you’ll hear more about them at Collabsphere in Ann Arbor – HCL will be out in force as will IBM speaking, showing and listening so if you can you need to get yourself there.   Turn out and turn up – there’s still time to get your voice heard.

 

The Champion & Confidence Dilemma

I wanted to share today something I’ve been dealing with for a few months and inspired by shares from others.  For those of you who don’t know the IBM Champion program, in short it was set up to acknowledge the work done by people who contribute to their Community outside of their regular jobs.

When I started as a business partner in the mid 90s the IBM community I was introduced to was full of people interested in IBM technology, wanting to learn and wanting to share what they knew with others for no reason other than they were excited about it and enjoyed seeing others doing the same.  In the past 20 years a lot of that has changed and I miss those days.  There are still lots of people who share and want to learn but the days of not wanting credit or taking a back seat are often (not always) gone.

I was encouraged and inspired for 20 years by people many of you will have heard of and many of you wouldn’t.  Without Andrew Pollack to tell me I was smart enough to learn this stuff and present, or Chris Miller offering to present wtih me or Rocky Oliver encouraging me to write, or Ben Langhinrichs asking the tough business questions about why I don’t charge more, or Carl Tyler giving me no leeway to make excuses, or Paul Mooney who was as enthusiastic about educating as I was and happy to work with me – without those people and many more in Penumbra and further afield I wouldn’t have chosen the path I did.  The path that led me to be an IBM Champion and 3 years ago one of the first (along with the amazing Theo Heselmans) IBM Lifetime Champions.

That should have been it right? Validation. The pinnacle of achievement.  Confirmation I was doing something right.

I hadn’t allowed for two things.  People’s misjudgement and their need to tear you down. Those two things in the past few months have brought me near to walking away.

I’ve learned to trust my judgement and my judgement says when people isolate me and ignore me it’s because they want to cut me out, and I assumed because they didn’t like me. I don’t consider myself that likeable so that’s a reasonable, although sad, explanation.  However I have realised in the past few weeks that apparently I am in some sort of competition that I was unaware of:  “Don’t let her get involved, she has enough credit”,  “Don’t get involved in ideas she has, she has enough credit”.  Little comments people have said in passing in my hearing serve to destroy my confidence daily. There have been many of these incidents, all small but incemental.

In a group discussion a few weeks ago I was trying to encourage someone I respect to put themselves forward to be a champion.  Another person in the group asked of the group, “Who thinks they deserve to be a champion?” and I, along with the other couple of champions there, put up my hand thinking we were supporting the discussion. This person said, “I don’t. I don’t think any of us do”.

I felt blindsided

I felt awful.

I still feel awful.

Maybe that person was right.  In which case the validation I had been accepting and working to deserve was just ego.  I didn’t think I had much ego but maybe I do. Maybe that’s what puts people off.

So this is to say to all of you out there:

  • Don’t project onto anyone a motive for their actions. Least of all your own.  Someone once said to me “well we all present for the applause don’t we”.  No. No we don’t.  Some of us do it to learn and to help others learn. That’s it.
  • Don’t project confidence where none exists. Don’t assume how you see someone is how they see themselves.
  • If you’re jealous, own that as your problem. I will put my hand up and admit to in the past being jealous of successful friends (Paul, Rob, Stuart) but that was my problem about where I felt I fell short and I truly hope they never felt the effects of it.
  • Don’t try and tear people down to make yourself feel better.

Your comments hurt. your actions or in-actions hurt. You cause hurt.

I wish it was still the mid 90s and we could still be that community that recognised the success of one is the success of all, but that was pre a lot of things and this is where we are now.

I’ll keep doing what I do because that’s the only way I know how to work and because presenting, blogging , sharing, learning, teaching make me happy.

 

My Favourite Things From Yesterday’s Call – What’s Coming …

Yesterday IBM and HCL hosted a call introducing some of the changes on the way with Domino, Sametime, VOP, etc, as a result of the worldwide Domino Jam sessions they have been running this year.  I attended an earlier Domino Jam in London in January which was jointly hosted by IBM and HCL and was very pleasantly surprised by how receptive they were to really unusual ideas as well as honest criticism so I was looking forward to hearing the results.

To start with it’s worth knowing that the strategy is continually evolving, what we were told about and what HCL are committing to is just a first step on a multi-year multi-release journey and that’s good news.

  • Modern development tools and frameworks
  • Easier and extended authentication and admin options *
  • Core performance improvements *
  • Slimmer, faster, better looking Client *
  • Adding mail and calendar features
  • Improved integration for mail and productivity with Microsoft Office

The items with asterisks were those I certainly raised (ok, went on and on about) during the Domino Jam and it’s great to see others did too and pushed them onto the priority list. I was also pleased to hear them talk about Domino as the original NoSQL database server which it was and remains – I honestly believe customers need to be reminded that before NoSQL was what everyone was doing, Domino was doing NoSQL 🙂

The application development innovations include support for Node.js integration and the ability to deploy applications on an iPad – we saw some code but it’s early days for a release due in Q4 and involving such huge amounts of work. There was a definite amount of “teasering” (made up word)  going on and a promise of hands-on access to beta code at Think in a few weeks as well as at user groups like SNOUG (in Switzerland), Engage (in Rotterdam) and Collabsphere (in Ann Arbor).  If you can make it to Think there’s going to be a lot to hear about and get your hands on, but if you can’t then there will be continual opportunities throughout the year before everything hopefully ships in Q4.

One very interesting thing that came out is that a lot of enhancements were already developed by IBM but never released into the product (for whatever reason) and HCL have been able to use those to leapfrog forwards.   Things coming to v10 of Domino include:

  • automated database repair (fixup is nice but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to do that at all)
  • removal of the 64GB limit and a new 256GB limit (which suggests a lot of efficiencies in database structure)
  • investment in Domino docker images to be made available with installs
  • update of SAML (to SAML 4) and improved integration with AD

Obviously this isn’t everything, there are more things appearing every day and much is still under NDA but we’re months away from release and there’s a feeling of a team pushing hard and breaking through old models and definitions to modernise and breathe oxygen into these products.

I have always believed that Domino is the best NoSQL database server and mail server out there and it seems HCL believe that too and are going full out to prove it.  Not to mention some of the most exciting stuff being produced is in the area of application development which I’m not best to comment on but still like what I am hearing.

If you were on the fence about attending Think I would suggest climbing off it – not just so you can benefit from learning whilst there but to grab the multiple opportunities to feed back your own ideas.  There are people behind these products who want to hear them.  If you can’t make Think then sign up for whatever user groups you can.  I will be doing the same.