Well Duffbert is probably on IBM's shit list this week ;)

In his post about "Why I don't think Xpages will turn the tide..." he outlines some very real issues with the Domino market that a lot of us make a living from. Somewhere deep in the comments (55 deep as of "air time") there are a few nuggets that always bubble up when we get our knickers in a twist. Namely:
  • Create a Community Edition for free
  • Give it away to schools, colleges, no-pro's etc

I don't disagree with either of these, however IBM obviously do. How do I know this? Are these new ideas? No. Have they been implemented? No. That is how I know.

I won't take the colleges one on here. Head over to Duff's blog and read the comments. There is simply no reason not to, except cost. Cost to IBM that is.

So I'll move on to the Community Edition option. I like this, however you have to be real careful giving stuff away for free. Ask any consultant (including me) for free stuff and see what happens. The more you give the more people want. So if there was to be a community edition.....if...... how many users should such offering be? My dart into the dart board says five users. I have some reasoning behind this, both to protect IBM's revenue stream and my potential business risk (hey, I sell this stuff too). So here goes:

1.        Five or less users is not really going to hurt anyone's revenue stream. (a) IBM doesn't give a rats arse about <1000 (or 100 depending on how far from the EoQ you are) and (b) more likely most < 5 shops are looking at cloud anyway. It's a win-win.
2.        Give them full Domino with anonymous access for apps and web, Lotus Notes clients, Domino Designer and Lotus Protector for Mail Security for 1 year. That gives the users the full suite of useful and easy to install stuff and makes it a compelling package.
3.        Charge for support. Either a $250 (or whatever is reasonable) per incident or up sell them to full Domino Collab Express for all their seats. RIM does this quite nicely take a page out of their book.
4.        Build in the 5 seat limit. Don't let them take you for a ride and 500 users all installing Notes.
5.        Once hit six users you charge for the full load. Again sell them Express but take the stupid anonymous access restriction off!
6.        Apps, apps, apps. Again IBM has nothing to lose by allowing a company to test drive (and own) Notes for <= 5 people. They will use apps. Treat the Community Edition as the crack rock the dealer gives you to get you hooked.
7.        Do not make the community edition any different to the full product. You will end up with a support nightmare.

Not an exhaustive list by any means, but pretty compelling (at least I think so, but hey, I'm the author). Ed has been asking for "new ideas". How about we look at some old ones first. IBM has nothing to lose and everything to gain. So do you, I and everyone else in this yellow vortex. How would that be for an announcement at LS11? Go on IBM! I dare you! I double dare you!
Darren Duke   |   December 10 2010 01:18:44 PM   |    domino  lotus notes    |  
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Comments (12)

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1 - Ed Brill    http://www.edbrill.com    12/10/2010 1:55:02 PM

and just because it hasn't been done doesn't mean IBM think it a bad idea. So I am actually quite interested in this discussion of the sweet spot.

Protector is kind of a non-starter since that requires a whole other (real or virtualized) server.

And oh, announcing at Lotusphere 2011 would be quite a stretch at this point. I have other announcements in the bag though. :-)

OK, there are my narrowing parameters, now carry on :-)

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2 - Thomas Duff    http://www.duffbert.com    12/10/2010 2:12:39 PM

well thought out and rational.

(and for Carl... "Five stars, loved it!)

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3 - Darren Duke    http://blog.darrenduke.net    12/10/2010 2:14:48 PM

OK, I'll give you some leeway.....How about an extra 5 days? I'll let you announce this at the CGS and not the OGS ;)

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4 - Mark Roosevelt    http://cloudscapers.com    12/10/2010 2:16:18 PM

I second Darren's emotions. I'll add my #8 to the heap: Come out with a CE or much more affordable version of Enterprise Server/Utility Express for the Small/Tiny Business community to host a Domino-based web site. Once smaller business taste Notes apps, they (much like bigger shops) see the simple elegance of using Domino to host a brochure or mildly-interactive web presence. Throw in a dash of IBM Lotus' support of OpenNTF and an ever-increasing selection of XPages developers, smaller businesses could begin to see this platform as the cost-effective app environment it is.

Short-term gain for IBM Lotus: nil.

Negative impact on revenue stream: Dare I say "negligible?"

Long-term gain: Small businesses aspire to be medium businesses, then large enterprises.

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5 - Miguel Angel Calvo    http://www.zarazaga.net    12/10/2010 2:18:14 PM

Would this mean that any department at any University could deploy a server, plus Domino Designer plus Lotus Notes for less than 5 users for free ?

Removing the anonymous access restriction I see a huge potential as a document publishing platform.

You need authenticated users, you go for the Utility license. You just want to share information, then the free version is enough for you.

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6 - Darren Duke    http://blog.darrenduke.net    12/10/2010 2:23:50 PM

@5, yes that would be the scenario I see as working for everyone involved.

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7 - Darren Duke    http://blog.darrenduke.net    12/10/2010 3:00:41 PM

@1, I see no reason not to offer LPMS as it gives a fully rounded, end-to-end solution. They use it or they don't, but it gives IBM a mighty check-box filler. Plus this is an in for IBM when LPMS hosted when it is released.

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8 - Henning Heinz       12/10/2010 4:18:07 PM

What is the use case of Lotus Domino for a 5 people shop? And if most companies at that size are looking at cloud solutions (your statement) why is this a win-win then? I am not against a Free-for-Five offer but try to understand what the benefits are.

In my experience 5 people shops deploy what their external IT consultant recommends. So if IBM would offer it free they would also need an eco-system of new Partners who are going to deploy and support it.

And as we speak of Microsoft or Google. I have no doubt that whenever Microsoft is threatened they are willing to throw software for free into your face.

I know of so called "Microsoft Partners" using Microsoft Action Pack (free Microsoft for 10 of almost everything for 400$) but needing another Microsoft Partner for installing a Microsoft desktop OS. And No, this does not mean that the develop .Net software instead).

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9 - Mark Haller    http://www.logicspot.com/    12/11/2010 4:56:58 AM

Great ideas Darren

Why stop at 5 users? Why not just leave the Community Edition wide open? And forget the anonymous access - fully authenticated, real users is what we want.

Lotus or BPs could do the hosting of NSFs for both web and Notes client access - charge that at $30 per seat per year. And then up-sell paid-for support around it.

The existing model that's with Lotus now could become the Enterprise or Pro models, where all paid-for services are wanted, and expected.

Corporates win - their price-point doesn't change, but the community is then growing daily.

Lotus win - it's all about the money and the politics - counting seats is pretty important, if I remember rightly. A vibrant community, extended from OpenNTF and the old (creaking, need to be re-shaped) notes.net forums can become the new super-community. They also get to bring in fresh blood and up-sell to that.

Small businesses win - no longer talking about thousands of dollars to host one website or a couple of mail files.

I'm for every point you said, apart from the 5 user limit. I think free is the way forward. Or keep the model as is, hang on to your corporates and hope they don't jump ship eventually .. and are not tempted away by the rest of the software world having left them many years behind ...

Just spent an age trying to buy Notes licenses. Enough to say, our purchasing manager just couldn't believe how ridiculously terrible the system was - it's taken 120 DAYS to buy ONE NOTES CLIENT LICENSE!

I get my credit card out to buy Magento Enterprise. I click one link to download WAMP or LAMP or any other flavour. I get CodeIgniter in one click. I buy an IDE with a credit card. I download Wordpress and have a full site in 20 minutes. I buy a theme with full support for $20.

The future's there for the taking, Lotus ...

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10 - Ed Maloney       12/11/2010 7:14:52 AM

I think a limited user CE is a great idea. Support should be 100% community provided so that IBM doesn't have any burden related to the CE other than creating the distributions.

I am finding that the competition in small deployments is not Sharepoint/Google, but instead it is the Open Source CMS platforms (Drupal, Wordpress, Confluence, Joomla). These are not as powerful as Notes, but they tend to be easy to setup and get started with.

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11 - Simon Mottram       12/13/2010 4:24:03 AM

Lotus solutions are both MUCH too expensive, and MUCH too hard to price.

It is hard to see any reason for people to move to IBM when there are so many free open source solutions and so many cheap open source devs.

I would love to say to people, "Here, write your website in Domino, it's simply the fastest dev environment I know, it's so easy, you get so much out of the box that other systems are just implementing now (and ballsing up)" but I know as soon as I quote a price they will pause... laugh and head off to Joomla/whatever.

IBM really need to knock a zero off the price and pronto. I live in NZ now and Domino is completely dead, I have seen one dev job position being advertised in the last year. This will become the picture across the world within 5 years.

I love Domino myself, but now I"m a Java/Fusion developer... Oh well, it was nice knowing you. 15 years Domino experience down the tubes.

S

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12 - Kenny Smith       01/27/2011 9:58:05 AM

Spot on Darren!

Being that I play in the Rational space as well, there are some excellent examples of how IBM uses its tools to lure additional revenue by giving away some code. In the case of Rational Team Concert, you can download and use the tool free for up to 10 developers on a single server. You only have community support, but optionally can pay for additional support. RTC is such a wickedly awesome tool, that many customers are happy to fork out money for support once they see the benefit of it. Its also a great tool for small teams and I'm VERY anxious to start doing source code management for Domino in RTC. After all, RTC's specialty is collaborative application lifecycle management. RTC is like a dimebag. Its free to try, but you get hooked on it, and when you are ready for some production features, you gladly pay the price.

A community server edition with a max user license model would be absolutely ideal. IBM only relies on partners to attract those <20 person companies, yet M$ preys on those as entry points. As the small business grows to real numbers, they are already hooked on Outlook/Exchange and now face the real cost of Sharepoint implementations, and the ridiculous cost of Office. Just as you've mentioned before, IBM's definition of a small business, is not exactly our definition of a small business.

IBM's strategy with Symphony is anoter GREAT example. I presented to a new customer yesterday and they are very interested in these types of savings, realizing that they don't have complex documents or spreadsheets, and what they do have would be better managed in a workflow application which is exactly Notes/Domino's sweet spot, and thus are potentially interested in converting now.