Notes/Domino Express with Clustering, DA, and web access - Thoughts on how IBM can solve the issues

December 1 2010

So watching the reactions of people to Ed's announcement that Domino Express was going to get clustering as part of the entitlement has been interesting. I think IBM adding clustering to the Express offering is great, but also agree that the Directory Assistance should not be withheld from the Express entitlement. It is a no brainer and I hope it gets added in the short term.

Ed's second post about this brings even more discussion, but really focuses on the thought around applications access on the web. Express does not allow external authenticated or anonymous web access to Domino applications. The Utility Express Domino license covers this. Utility Express is not cheap nor expensive - US$2700 for 100 PVUs. But should IBM really be charging for something like a blog, running the IBM blog template, on a server?

I think there are two ways to solve this problem. The first is that IBM make the following to the IBM Domino Collaboration Express entitlement:

1. Allow DA for all Domino Express entitlements
2. Allow Anonymous web access for Domino Collaboration Express entitlement
3. Change product listing prices to be more in line with how people buy hardware today. For those purchasing server hardware - has anyone bought anything but quad core processors in the past two years? I don't think any hardware I have speced has been anything under a dual processor with quad cores. That is 800 PVUs ... so why can't IBM list the prices for 400 and 800 PVUs and just call them single and dual processor licenses. It would make it much easier on the customers if they didn't have to figure out the PVUs with a calculator. As a partner, I don't mind the PVU measurement - but I never expose that to my customers.
4. Figure out a way to allow authenticated web access without giving away the product.

I take real issue with the comments that IBM should give away authenticated web access for all Express licenses and make the larger enterprises pay for it. At the end of the day, IBM is in a for profit business, and everyone needs to pay for what they use. But there needs to be a bridging of the gap. Most < 1000 companies aren't going to spend 10k on a Utility Express server to run a single XPages application.

Longer term, this discussion just screams a need for applications in the shifting SMB marketplace, which is moving to the cloud more and more. You don't see Google or Microsoft going after the SMB space with on premises solutions today. Microsoft 360 is directly targeted at the SMB and mid market. Google Apps is the big gorilla in the SMB space. Without it, I am not sure Microsoft 360 or LotusLive would even exist! So IBM really needs to get LotusLive ready to handle the SMB custom application needs. There are a few ways to do this. Some thoughts:

1. Get apps on LotusLive thru a partnership with Group Live (or something else). LL would handle the registration, financials, and pass thru. Make it seamless. I don't care if is hosted on a separate server. As long as it ends up using the same Notes id and in the same UI on the web, the back-end packaging doesn't matter.
2. Do the same as above except with an Amazon hosted Domino servers that are out there now. Should be possible and straight forward. IBM could even pass thru the entire Amazon cost as long as they managed the entire process.
3. Get Domino application on LL natively. If they are worried about custom applications, fine. Start small. Give customers the ability to host the standard templates: XPages Discussion, IBM Blog, Team Room, Document Library. Maybe even one or two of the apps from OpenNTF.org or things like IdeaJam. Easy to test and certify and then allow users to spin up copies for themselves. As a start, even not allowing customization would be OK. But this would be step one in a larger process and would be well received.

As I try to look out into the future for the next couple of years, I see the SMB market moving almost completely to the cloud. Far quicker than the mid market or enterprise markets. Heck, you could even argue that most SMB's are already moving there today. This will just accelerate. IBM needs to get LotusLive competitive on custom applications with Microsoft and Google. No one has a perfect solution for custom applications yet in the cloud ... the killer combo of XPages and hosted Domino with LotusLive services is something IBM should jump on today.

12 Responses to “Notes/Domino Express with Clustering, DA, and web access - Thoughts on how IBM can solve the issues”

  1. 1) Sean Cull says:

    I know of lots of people that buy 100PVU servers just because they are 100 pvus.

    Don't assume that everyone over specs machines, particularly if you are trying to get the first domino server into an organisation.

    A domino application with perhaps 20 users in total and averaging maybe 5 users x 20 minutes each per day does not justify a quad processor.

  2. 2) Richard Schwartz says:

    Agree completely about the PVU issue. We sell an appliance with an OEM Domino license. It's still possible for me to spec a single dual-core chip, and I do that because it is necessary in order to keep the license cost for our customers down. But I think in one or two hardware generations the dual-core choice is probably going to disappear. If nothing changes in the IBM PVU pricing model, it's going to result in a major cost increase for my customers.

  3. 3) Stuart McIntyre says:

    Personally, I would argue for the ditching of PVUs (and CPU licensing of any kind) across the Lotus portfolio - it really makes no sense when dealing with end users and non-transactional based apps, particularly social and collaboration.

    I think per user licensing across the board would work with internal apps (effectively merging Express and CEO models - and including anonymous and authenticated access to applications), and a tiered cost for web applications (replacing Domino Utility and Utility Express) probably based on number of authenticated web users.

    Whatever, Ed has done a great job of getting clustering in the license for now, but there is still more to be done.

  4. 4) Flemming Riis says:

    the problem is its getting harder and harder to find a 100pvu server these days.

    the pvu table needs updating its getting oracle ish , you have to pay 50pvu more for a highend core if the ability to socket more than 4cpu are there

    and given that 400pvu is allowed for Lotus Utility its getting stupid.

  5. 5) Richard Moy says:

    Domino Utility Express Server as a Web server is the primary license that we focus on since more and more of our client do not use Notes. With all the free open source Web application server out there, IBM should make the cost of the server license reasonable and without the concept of PVU so that it can be competitive. It could be a license that only allow Web user access both anonymous and authenticated up to 1000 users. Unless IBM plans to offer a SaS environment in which Business Partners can utilize and MAKE MONEY, having a reasonably priced license is important to improve the adoption of Domino as a Web server. Since most SMB companies are less than 100 users, having a VSMB license of less than $1000 for anonymous and up to 100 authenticated users regardless of PVUs would be great. At $2700, you are not competitive with the current open source servers.

  6. 6) John D Head says:

    @1 - Sean: Interesting comment, but I don't see that in the states at all. If I go to Dell's website to spec out a server, the cheapest I see that is server class (rack mount, raid ready, dual nics, dual power, etc) is a single processor with 2 cores. And the majority of offerings is a single processor with 4 cores. I will never recommend a server that isn't server class. So maybe not now, but within 24 months, that option will not be nessecary and very usable.

    @2 - Richard: It also is complete sticker shock when you, the customer, looks at the per PVU price and don't realize that cores becomes a multiplier to the cost. That needs to get fixed.

    @3 - Stuart: I have asked people above Ed about PVU pricing and the answer is always 'that is how IBM prices servers and it will only change when IBM changes pricing across all of software group' - so while I agree I would like to see PVU pricing go away, it's probably a better idea to find a way to make the product better within it for the time being. So make Express better, handle applications, and begin to move customers to a cloud / hosted model is what I think will work best for my customers. And I am very happy there is no PVU pricing model near LotusLive at all. And yes I agree Ed is doing great - just extending the discussion.

    @4 - Flemming: I agree it needs to be changed. But let's remember IBM is competing with Oracle and Microsoft in the server space. While we know that Google is a competitor to IBM in the SMB space, IBM is really an enterprise focused company, who sells well in the mid market, and who's success in the SMB space is a combination of partner lead and luck.

    @5 - Richard: we completely disagree here. IBM is not in the business of competing with open source web servers. They are in the business of making money and competing with Sharepoint, Oracle, and other things. If you are looking for something competitive with a LAMP solution, you should probably go elsewhere.

  7. 7) Eric Mack says:

    Excellent points about Lotus Live Notes. As the makers of eProductivity - a popular Notes application for individual and organizational productivity, we'd love to offer this on LL Notes. Unfortunately. they are not set up for 3rd party applications at this time. Fortunately, there are hosting companies that do well. We've been sending customers to Phase2 for Hosted Notes solutions. Note: we do not get any $ for this, in fact we discount it to them. The reason I am pleased to recommend Phase2 is that they make it EASY for customers to buy a hosted Notes solution and be up and running in a matter of hours. I'm sure there are other companies that can do that (e.g. Prominic/Group) but for now we've had good experience sending our customers to Phase2

    I, like many Lotus BPs, would like to see LL Notes support third party apps and appreciate your comments about that.

  8. 8) Sean Cull says:

    @6 John,

    it is difficult. For example spending an extra $10 dollars on this server

    { Link }

    doubles the cost of your Domino licence from 140 PVU to 280PVU ( L3406 > X3430 )

    It really does feels as thouugh IBM are being opportunistic as low end servers specs get higher. Somewhat the opposite of Moores Law.

    It is particlarly galling as they say each release runs better on the same hardware.

  9. 9) Ed Brill says:

    I'm surprised at how the minimum hardware aspect of this conversation plays out. We do sub-capacity licensing and it seems to me many customers take advantage of this. You don't need to license 400 PVUs if you want to segment a server to only provide 100 worth to Domino.

  10. 10) Sean Cull says:

    Ed, subcapacity is a real pain to implement ( requires special monitoring software ) and the use of Ubuntu, Centos etc.. is not allowed. If you think the restrictions around express are difficult this is a whole new level.

    I looked at it and gave up and I am usually keen to try most things.

    If people comment that it is easy I will happily eat my words and try again although limiting a virtualised host OS would still seem overly harsh.

    It is also awkward in OEM/ASL appliance situations as the licensor does not necessarily have access to the server.

    FAQ : Is a Tool required

    Yes, the previously announced suspension of the use of the IBM Tivoli License Compliance Manager for IBM Software as a requirement for sub-capacity licensing, was rescinded on July 1, 2008 and, subject to certain exceptions, use of its replacement, the IBM License Metric Tool (or IBM Tivoli License Compliance Manager V2.3 FP05 or Tivoli Asset Discovery for Distributed for V7.2) is now required for sub-capacity licensing.

    ftp://ftp.software.ibm.com/software/passportadvantage/SubCapacity/Eligible_Virtualization_Technology.pdf

  11. 11) Sean Cull says:

    sorry meant limiting guest OS was harsh rather than host but limiting host OS can be an issue too.

    I guess IBM are worried about people modding it although that would be unlikely.

  12. 12) Sean Cull says:

    Actully I'll take some of that back.

    Having seen this posting there are some useful exemptions in terms of having to install the tool.

    { Link }

    I still don't see why the GUEST OS needs to be constrained if the user is happy to take the risk on not being supported - for example on a development server ( Domino Amazon EC2 from IBM is on Fedora which is not supported )

    Sean, eating his words

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