So we've had a whole day of people spending 8 hours to do 5 minute demos.....ok, that was a snarky joke. Yeah, I can hear you now, "Darren? Snarky?"

So is Domino RAD? I'd say yes. The reason? Because I can build a pretty functional application with the minimum amount of time and effort. There are some other questions though:

Is it easy? No.
Do XPages help? Yes.
Does it usually look good? Not really.
Is security really, really easy? Yes.
Is workflow easy? No.
Do I have to resort to frameworks to get shit done? No.

So in reality I can have an ugly, useful app with security in very little time. So what's the issue? Total Cost of Ownership or TCO.

You'd think given the amount of times IBM brings out the TCO bandwagon they would have measured their own application platforms against it. And by "platform" I mean Domino in this case. To point this out, I'm not even going to build an application......Let's take a freely available application from OpenNTF, Declan Lynch's xTalk. A very functional, nice looking discussion forum. It's free right? Erm.....

So let's say I want to roll this out to, for example a high school cheerleading squad. It's free right? No. You need to purchase a Domino server, maybe Utility Express, or maybe full blow Utility Server. At the low end that is $2,000 at the high end that could be $20,000. I have a variable TCO. No high school in their right mind is going to pay that for this application. It doesn't matter how good Declan makes it, the licensing model cripples any chances before the NSF is downloaded.

Now take this a step further, Sean Cull had a comment on Jake's blog:

It doesn't really matter if Domino is RAD if you can't afford to licence the Apps - have you tried selling a simple SAAS domino app to an organisation with > 1000 employees - even if only 20 use it ?
I know that IBM is keenly interested in this so if you can raise it with them and it affects you now or in the future then please do so.

Read that again....OK, you're back....If I am an ISV and I wish to sell my application to you I either have to go get Application Specific Licensing (ASL) or have you go for full licensing. Now, I have no knowledge of IBM ASL licensing costs and (shocker) the web site is no help. As Sean points out, just having 20 people of a 1,000 person organization is kind of insane. Forget Saas for now, there really is no licensing model where this works for Domino, or at least where you can have a wide (>2) choice of hosting providers.

Now lets look at innovation. Twitter, Tungle, Facebook. I'd say these are examples of innovative platforms. How much do you think it would cost to start this on Domino? Every new server, with 4 CPUs each with 6 cores? Yeah.....we're gonna see this on Domino right?

So Domino maybe RAD, it may have fully functional and simple to use security however since 2002 these have hardly been selling points. Hosting costs are selling points as they routinely count for a pretty big chunk of Domino's TCO. A quick Google for ".Net Hosting" yields this:

Image:Is Domino RAD? I don’t really care....what I care about is TCO

A whopping 2,760,000 entries, starting at $4.95 per month. With all these hosting providers wanting your business the prices are pushed down lowering your TCO, and Microsoft bask in the light of developer love. Domino? A meager 17,400 entries.

Don't get me wrong, I think Domino and XPages are vastly undervalued in terms of functionality by the rank and file of IT departments but to go around these people you need a pretty big wallet in the line of business. And that is a very hard pill to swallow.

We can go around and around with the merits of any platform, but when the up front costs puts you at a significant disadvantage don't be surprise to see your market shrink at an alarming rate.

Darren Duke   |   March 24 2011 03:04:09 PM   |    domino    |  
  |   Next Document   |   Previous Document

Discussion for this entry is now closed.

Comments (5)

Gravatar Image
1 - Ed Brill    03/24/2011 4:20:27 PM

ASL is actually a pretty reasonable approach cost-wise but the ISV needs to take on some risk in the equation. It's a great black-box solution though.

Beyond that -

1) Anonymous access can be done with Domino Enterprise Server, doesn't need Utility. I am working on an approach for Collab Express similarly, which would drop the entry cost point for organizations <1000 employees for anonymous access apps as well.

2) I'm interested in a model for an app-only server, as Sean Cull notes in his comments, based on the need to compete on price sensitivity

3) Domino in the cloud is cheaper in the pay-as-you-go model versus the outright purchase of a Utility Server license. Now, admittedly, we don't have a production Utility license available on IBM Smart Business Cloud or Amazon EC2 yet. But will.

I get it. Really. I only have started to look after the apps part of our business since January 1. Most of my time on the premises side of our business has been spent on a "Get Social. Build Apps" line of thought. It's invisible outside of IBM so far, but won't be much longer.

Gravatar Image
2 - Karl-Henry Martinsson    03/24/2011 4:38:52 PM

@Ed: Sounds excellent to me, I hope to hear some licensing news soon. I have several small projects where a small business want a simple web application, something I could whip up in a day using Domino. But the cost is stopping me/them from doing it.

If IBM want to compete with the free or almost free platforms, there is some work ahead.

Make anonymous web access free.

Make authenticated web access free, for users who don't have any ID files. Let me just create person documents so they can login on the web, in a separate webnames.nsf address book.

I have no problem with wlient access and authenticated web access for mail (for users with ID file) requiring a CAL. But to require a CAL to be purchased for each customer they want to add, it just kills the market.

Gravatar Image
3 - Flemming Riis       03/24/2011 4:43:59 PM

Just look at how microsoft did their spla , this is the price pr user pr month or cpu , easy simple report in once a month a pay the bill

copy that and it will be 100 times easier to host domino apps/mails/web

Gravatar Image
4 - Wayne Sobers       03/24/2011 5:36:56 PM

@Karl-Henry Martinsson, wouldn't Collab Express fit the bill here? For companies under 1000 users, you just get the individual licenses the the people who will be using your application, No?

Gravatar Image
5 - Richard Moy    03/24/2011 8:14:05 PM


The collaboration express includes the license for mail which interesting the cost per users significantly compare to just using it for Web applications which is what I believe Karl-Henry Martinsson was getting at.