November 14 2009 Saturday
We need XPages to surface relational, non-Notes data. And we need it soon!
Over the last 6 months I have had the opportunity to speak to a fair number of Lotus Domino and Notes customers. This has come about from several different directions, over half a dozen proof of technologies (PoT's) and a fair number of interactions via IBM and Lotus reps.
There are a few common denominators between these Domino customers:
1. They rarely attend "normal" Lotus events like LUGs and/or LotusSphere
2. They are Notes shops for mail, but are moving into .Net and $harepoint for other reasons
3. They had not yet heard about Lotus Knows
Now, these are real, end of the line customers. Some are large with 15,000+ Notes seats, some are smaller with 350 or less. You rarely see these users, admins or developers reading Planet Lotus, however they have mostly heard of DAOS and/or XPages. You really won't see theses Domino customers at LoLA or on a design partner call. Yet it is these customers that are the life blood of the Domino product. Year in, year out they renew their IBM software licenses (usually directly with IBM or a hardware partner, not a Lotus partner) and continue to protect Domino inside their organizations on a daily basis.
Given that Domino 8.5.x does for the server what Notes 8.x did for the client, they are very excited about it. Most are (or have) implemented DAOS and all are very excited about XPages. Until they realize it is for Notes data only.
Inside of these loyal Domino customers, .NET development is (or has) eroding away at Notes application development, despite the obvious benefits of the Notes RAD application development model. Why is this? Well, .NET can access disparate data sources out of the box. Got Oracle? No problem. Got DB2? No problem. Got Notes? (almost) No problem. Yet when you drool over XPages you come to the sudden and jarring realization that we have been given a stellar application development platform that can only access Notes data. Got Oracle? Tough! Got MS-SQL? Tough! Got anything that is not Notes? Tough!
To a man (or woman) the majority of these companies would embrace XPages much more quickly if they could access non-Notes data and surface it in XPages. Indeed some may not ever look at XPages due this "limitation". This one addition to the platform could dispel the notion that .NET (or Java, etc) is the only platform of choice once your data is outside of Notes. It can dispel the notion that XPages is a pretty cool addition "if you still do Notes apps". IBM, you have proved you can listen. You have proved you can deliver. Now, lets take this to the next level and make XPages the defacto choice for all enterprise application development, and allow it to surface any data, not just Notes.
Real customers with real issues need this enhancement. Real customers. Not Business Partners. Not ISVs. Not bloggers.