Application Modernization is not about Rip and Replace - It’s about building on top of what exists today

February 22 2011

In my blog entry After all these years of saying "Applications too!" when talking about Notes & Domino, this is the time to focus on apps!, Wayne macKirdy made this comment:

At the same time, a large percentage of our work force is still in the brick and mortar HQ. And all the pretty little toys that the field force is working with are not available, and not needed. And here's the rub...the HQ and the field MUST exchange information to get the job done. Too many "toy" manufacturers are driving the enterprise, and leaving a lot of folks behind!

I am not sure if Wayne thinks I agree or disagree with him based on my slides and post, but for the record, I think the foundation of the Application Modernization movement is about taking what applications you have and adding to them. I am not advocating a rip and replace strategy in any manner.

In the Notes & Domino World, this starts with XPages. Why? Because you can keep your business logic and existing application interfaces in place. This adds a web 2.0 user interface for those that have modern browsers and newer Notes clients. It allows those with older Notes clients and older browsers to keep using the applications they have today. And the data is in a single location. The business logic on the back end doesn't have to change. You can then add mobile functionality using the XPages mobility toolkit. All while existing users are not left behind.

There will be places where existing applications should be rebuilt. Moving business logic to different models such as Java and SSJS vs LotusScript. Changing the data storage model. Improving the business process workflow by evaluating the old steps. Those are options, but are not requirements.

Application Modernization is about changing the user experience via modern tools without ripping and replacing anything. If you make that decision, it should be for the right reasons of it's the best business decision vs. being forced.

The reality is that end users want modern experiences. We have to meet those expectations or they will bypass the internal tools. More on that in a future post.

6 Responses to “Application Modernization is not about Rip and Replace - It’s about building on top of what exists today”

  1. 1) Wayne MacKirdy says:

    I completely agree with this blog. I was referencing the comment you made about people going out and buying things with their credit cards...and the result is information stovepipes that no one else can access.

    We are actively converting our applications to Web 2.0 look and feel via XPages. And I am the one pushing the initiative. But I chaff ever time I see a manager hiring a consultant to create some kind of an application, non-Notes at that, and not bothering to consult with the IT director to ascertain whether we can do that in house. And too often that is done to support some new "toy" that manager has heard about or read about, or seen one of his cohorts in another organization using!

    Again, I am all about upgrading! And woe to the organization that refuses to do so!

  2. 2) Karl-Henry Martinsson says:

    You do not even have to use Xpages. If you are on an older version of Notes/Domino (pre 8.5.2), it can often be enough to update the user interface to a more modern look. Last year I created a simple template for Notes applications ({ Link } By using the same icons (the FamFamSam silk icons), a gradient action bar background and perhaps change the colors on the forms to be more modern, you can spiff up an existing classig Notes application, and at the same time save the users from having to learn a new way to do things.

    I use Ytria actionBarEZ to quickly re-skin existing Notes applications. I updated Ben's session database to a more moderna look using those icons in about 10-15 minutes...

  3. 3) John D Head says:

    Glad we agree Wayne.

  4. 4) John D Head says:

    Karl-Henry - while I agree the work your doing is reskinning, my definition of Application Modernization is one of three things: Web 2.0, Mobile, Social. A new user interface that is going to be considered sexy by the end user needs more of an update than icons. Now, I completely agree that you do not need to use XPages. We have clients doing traditional Domino web development with jQuery. That counts as well. I do believe XPages is the best long term strategy, but it is not the only one.

  5. 5) Karl-Henry Martinsson says:

    Liiks like the link got garbled. The link is { Link }

  6. 6) Nathan T. Freeman says:

    "Moving business logic to different models such as Java and SSJS vs LotusScript... Those are options, but are not requirements."

    Perhaps you know something that I don't know, John. But to my knowledge, moving the business logic isn't an option; it's a necessity. I don't think that invalidates your point, but I do think people need to be realistic about the process.

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