If IBM Project Vulcan succeeds, the IBM Lotus Notes Client we know today is dead

April 13 2010

Peter Presnell wrote a very interesting blog post entitled Saving Notes: Why The Notes Client Must Die that has gotten some attention (via PlanetLotus.org) and a bunch of comments. What I find funny is that it has taken just under three months for this discussion to take place in the Lotus blogsphere since IBM Project Vulcan was announced.

Yes, the Notes client we know today is dead.

What do I mean? Well, if IBM Project Vulcan is successful, the Notes client we have today will be dead. The goal is to build a modern application platform using Web 2.0 technology. The goal is to build a new platform for the future which also keeps the existing Notes application model present. Xpages are the app model.

So looking at that direction, why could the Notes client not be just a packaged, installable application that made off-line mobile applications easy to deploy and control? Why not take a complete web experience, wrapped with the off-line capabilities of HTML5, and make an EXE out of it? For me, the #1 feature coming from Vulcan is the goal to have a single application platform that deploys to the client, web, and mobile devices.

If you do the research on many of the moves off Notes & Domino to other platforms (and other platforms to cloud based email), it's almost always do to the TCO of the Notes client. IT shops don't want to manage software on the desktop. They don't want to deal with applications that have to be managed. They want fast, lean, pretty, and easy to manage and support. There is no reason why Vulcan can't be the answer to this model - for both email and applications. Plus, as email becomes more of a commodity over time, collaboration and custom applications are the model everyone will focus on. Even collaboration, starting with on-line meeting and IM and then moving to team rooms, project based solutions, and more complicated and enterprise solutions will become commodities over time.

IBM needs to jump forward and I believe Project Vulcan is their opportunity. It is a gigantic effort - which is why we have no dates for delivery. But I would have no issue with the Notes client as we know it today going away ... as long as there is a solution to take our applications into this new client space. The piece missing is what will get those Notes Client only applications into the new platform? There are rumblings of folks working on Notes Classic apps to Xpage conversion tools. I personally believe the reason we are seeing work on DXL by IBM is to facilitate this move. Who knows what else we might see here. But modernizing Notes Client applications to become Web 2.0 applications that look great, focus on end user functionality, and fit into 2010 and 2011 deployment models and devices is where I think people should focus. You will hear and see more from PSC on this space very shortly.