It’s becoming increasingly clear that IBM Domino/Notes has reached its software end-of-life.
IBM has not announced it, but the proof is in the pudding, and the pudding says no new releases since 3 years, the pudding says minimal IBM resources earmarked for development (almost all the exciting new stuff has been a community open-source work, many thanks to the heroes at OpenNTF), the pudding says outdated development tools, circa 8 years old. I’m writing this article on the unconfirmed assumption that IBM has no interest in preserving either the Notes Client, the Domino server, and the nsf storage file.
It’s time to start thinking about exit strategies.
For companies that decided to move off from Notes/Domino, after the easy part of migrating mail-files and changing mail servers, they were usually left with a plethora of functioning, sometimes business critical applications, for whom the cost of a complete re-write in another platform was prohibitive (more on that later – it’s still the case). The exit costs are high, and most organisations decided to keep their Notes infrastructure running, in some sort of compromise co-existence scenario, often with the fat clients hidden away or available only to a small subset of users.
But now that IBM is (apparently) pulling the plug, the ‘application migration’ question comes up again. The costs are still high. Sorry. Why?
The ugly secrets of most of the Notes applications that I’ve run across are
- They are badly documented (a crime which presumably is prevalent in most in-house developments, as opposed to professional software houses)
- The development tools invited developers to work in a quick-and-dirty way, with no structure, producing fast initial results but subsequently slow updates (This was unfortunately also the case for XPages applications).
- The absence of any way to do systematic testing also led to an accretive style of coding, where one only adds new stuff, and getting rid of old stuff is so dangerous that nobody dared to do it. This also means that, in a historically grown application, there is going to be a lot of cruft within the application – it’s impossible for a developer to know which are the bits that are needed, and which are obsolete.
You’ll need the following for a successful application re-write:
- An application owner from the business side who has followed the history of the tool and will be able to tell the developer which bits are used and which are obsolete
- A developer that can ‘read’ the old Notes application, not only in terms of code but also in terms of data structure and security.
Once you have these two sine qua nons, the question arises as to which destination should you choose. Of all the options, my vote goes to LDC Via.
LDC Via makes the re-write job a lot easier. Why?
- The data structure is the same, so the accessing logic in the new application doesn’t have to change.
- The document-level security upon which most Notes applications run is still available.
- The data is accessible using a modern interface called REST which is modern, simple to understand, use and test.
This means that you can really concentrate on business logic and user interface and don’t have to spend time translating the original ‘Notes’ logic.
I’m looking forwards to my first application migration projects working with LDC Via, and I’m also proud to announce that my company has become a technology partner of LDC Via.
Please feel free to contact me if you are interested.