Author Archives: David Hablewitz
(If you are a technical expert and you are not sharing this information with your business management as well as your IT management, then you are not doing your job.)
Since HCL bought Notes, Domino, Sametime, Connections and several other products from IBM, many people are asking: “Now what? Is this the end or the beginning?”
I have been watching closely what HCL says as well as what they do. I have had long conversations with people at some of the highest levels of HCL. Those of you who have seen me at the conferences know my IBM Champion or HCL Master titles be damned, I don’t hold back any punches. I’ll the first to point it out when “the Emperor has no clothes.” So let me share with you what I know.
My first observation:
HCL is more interested in producing product than marketing it. HCL confirms this. Right now they aren’t doing a lot of blowing their own horn from a marketing perspective, at least not yet. I have asked about this and their answer is simple: They would rather let their actions speak loudest right now. That does not sit well with me having watched IBM do NO marketing for the past 20 years, but I am told that will soon change. I hope so because the absence of a message leaves people to make up their own.
My second observation:
If HCL were a car, it would be a Tesla because the only other time I have felt this much acceleration, that’s what I was driving.
That is how I would describe the pace of software development since HCL took over. The first sign of this was that HCL has more than doubled the number of people on the software development team since taking ownership.
My third observation:
HCL mishandled the initial announcement of the decommissioning SmartCloud Notes / Connections Cloud (SCN/CC).
Yes, the implementation of SCN/CC was clunky and the environment was mismanaged by IBM so it was losing money for IBM. HCL was smart to shed this and focus on what they do best. But it would have been better if they had announced the transition partners at the same time or in advance of declaring they were dropping SCN. HCL also recognizes this error and has worked hard to make it easy to transfer to the partners. For what it’s worth, IBM was not too cool in how they handled that part of the software deal with HCL and that was beyond the control of HCL. If you are hosting on SCN/CC, you are much better off transferring to one of the designated hosting partners than trying to go through a migration to a different platform. The end results will actually be even better than what was available in IBM’s cloud.
If HCL is letting their work speak for itself, what exactly is their work saying?…
HCL first got involved in the software development about 2 years ago and the final acquisition was June 2019. In those 2 years HCL has:
- Produced 2 major releases of Notes & Domino (IBM produced only 4 major releases in 20 years)
- Produced major releases of Connections and Sametime
- Created Nomad, an entirely new product: a lean & clean Notes client for iOS & Android
- Are close to releasing a Notes client that runs entirely in a browser
- Are close to releasing Volt, the software that will put low-code software development back in the hands of the power user like it was in the earlier days with Lotus Notes
- Added Domino Query Language (DQL) for better database searching
- Online training courses are coming for end users, developers, and administrators
They achieved all of this by increasing horsepower and removing the throttle limiter – They told the software development teams “You know best what we need. You make the choice and you make it happen“. Then HCL went on a hiring spree, more than doubling the resources. Then HCL got out of their way. It is amazing what brilliant people can do when you just let them.
(Yes it really exposes just how much IBM starved software development for decades.)
Oh, by the way…
This was all done while at the same time HCL was busy creating this entirely new business line within the company — Digital Solutions— along with all the necessary back office corporate infrastructure like marketing, software development protocol, business partner support, HCL Masters program, software inventory control, product rebranding, technical support, documentation, a process for receiving product ideas and feedback, websites to support all of those pieces and on and on. In essence, they are a 2-year-old multi-billion dollar startup. It feels as if Lotus is back in charge and it feels good.
With all the work they are doing, it is your responsibility to implement the solutions. Make sure you are taking full advantage of what HCL is providing:
- Be on Notes and Domino V11
- Have Sametime chat and online awareness and Connections Files and Profiles running
- You should have Nomad deployed to iPad users and plans for deployments to iPhones and Androids
- MarvelClient Essentials should be deployed to manage the client software. All of this is part of the typical standard licensing
- Investigate how you could be using Domino apps to solve business problems including the free apps at OpenNTF.org
- Consider saving costs by running these servers on Linux instead of Windows
- Properly train users, developers, and administrators
After that, if there are features or enhancements your business needs that you don’t see in the product, post them at the Product Ideas Lab website. Since HCL started this feedback website a year ago, they have already shipped 134 of the proposed ideas, 67 more are in development and over 600 more are marked as likely to be implemented. This is all in addition to the hundreds of features, fixes, and products they were already doing on their own. It is impressive just how responsive HCL has been to the suggestions posted.
- HCL is doing superhuman work advancing their products and adding new ones to the portfolio. They have more than doubled the development team and invested over $2 Billion on the software suite so far and they are just getting started. The future of the HCL (Lotus) software suite is the brightest it has been since Lotus was bought by IBM.
- They have a few challenges they are working through (pricing models, Marketing).
- It is your responsibility as a savvy business owner to be sure you are leveraging everything you are paying HCL for.
I have performed many email migrations to/from every major platform out there. I even worked on Microsoft’s O365 team. Migrations are always vastly more expensive and disruptive to businesses than expected with less payoff than anticipated. And if you have Domino applications then migration costs can be prohibitive, so you will still have Domino for apps even if you aren’t using it for email. It would be far more productive spending that same money on improving and cleaning up your existing system and educating users instead of migrating. The HCL acquisition of the IBM collaboration software portfolio is what we have needed for a long time. The beauty is if you are already on Notes & Domino, you’re in the right place at the right time.
I attended a presentation by King County Director of Elections Julie Wise. She presented some important information regarding the Primary election coming to the State of Washington for the first time since we voted to change from a Caucus process last year. Even if you aren’t in King County, the ballot and election date is the same state-wide. Here are the facts you need to know…
Photo of the sample ballot:
Photo of ballot envelope:
- Everyone will receive the same ballot regardless of party affiliation.
- You must indicate a party affiliation in order to vote in the primary and you must select someone from the party you indicate, otherwise your ballot will not count.
- If you vote for more than one candidate, your ballot will not count. If you make a mistake, follow the instructions on how to cross it out and change your choice.
- You must sign your ballot and that signature must match what you provided when you registered to vote. If it does not, they will attempt to contact you if you provided contact information, otherwise your ballot will not count.
- Your party preference will be public record and it will be kept for 90 days after which time it will be deleted.
- The preferred method for voting is to use the ballot drop boxes around the county. Here is a map of their locations. No stamp is needed and it can be dropped off up to 8:00pm on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.
- If you choose to mail your ballot, it is recommended to do so at least several days prior to March 10 because mail is not certain to be picked up every day from your mailbox. Generally it is only picked up when you receive mail. If you drop off at the post office, be sure it is prior to the collection time for that box on March 10. If you miss the pickup, your ballot will be postmarked the next day and it will not be counted.
We are so lucky that Washington State is exclusively vote-by-mail. We have the luxury to take our time reviewing, studying and marking our ballot at home instead of driving to a polling center and standing in line to cast your vote. That might explain why Washington always has one of the highest voter turnouts. Even a poorly-timed blizzard won’t keep us from voting IF you plan ahead. But you have to be registered. March 2 is the deadline to register online or by mail and participate in the Primaries election. March 10 is the deadline for registering in person. But trust me, you don’t want to have to drive to the elections office to register. Do it online now. All the important dates can be found here.
There is also this great posting on the official state website on more FAQs. Definitely worth reading.
Ginni Rometty is stepping down from her role as CEO of IBM. The news brings back memories of this viral photo that friend and fellow IBM Champion Joerg Rafflensbeul captured of me with Ginni at IBM Think conference in 2018. Just more proof that the times are definitely changing. This photo was taken shortly before HCL began getting involved with the collaboration software that ultimately led to the acquisition of Notes/Domino, Sametime, Connections and several other products that HCL is turning into profit centers as they revitalize and leap forward. More about this in the next blog post. Until then, as the dolphins so eloquently put it in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “So long and thanks for all the fish.”
It never ceases to amaze me the incredible pace that HCL is working to advance Notes & Domino products. Case in point: Domino Query Language (DQL) is now an integral part of Domino V11. Taken from Deputy General Manager, Marketing at HCL Technologies, Jan Kenney’s post:
With v11, Domino Query Language (DQL) completed its consolidation of all means of searching Domino data, using full-text indices. Join this webinar on January 30th to learn all about it! https://lnkd.in/eeYYPXw
This is the new way to search in Domino from now on. Don’t let the rapid pace of technology leave you behind. You will want to listen in for this. Be sure to register even if you can’t attend live, so you will get the link to the replay.
A footnote: Once you register, you can also add the event to your Notes calendar. Choose the iCal option. Funny how HCL Notes is the only major email client to follow the industry standard format.
Annual Post: Create those holidays in your Domino Directory and a tip for end users to cleanup your inbox (any mail system)
It’s that time of year again.
Some topics are worth revisiting every year. Here are two of my favorites:
Watch the replay. The questions and answers are transcribed below. Many thanks to all the people from HCL for being available and answering the many tough questions brought up. I did my best to transcribe the questions and responses. If I did not get it right, please post a correction in the comments and I will update the blog post.
Questions and Responses:
- I have a need for users to be able to monitor multiple identities for email. Helpdesk, HR, Marketing, and business partners who work with multiple mailboxes. This is needed for both the Notes client and the Verse app.
Response (Andrew Davis): HCL is focusing their energy into apps, not email. They are porting the Notes client to run within a browser window, so just like you can have multiple gmail accounts running different identities in different browser windows, you will be able to do the same with Notes clients.
My Feedback: I believe downplaying the significance of email in the collaboration software war is a dangerous decision and worthy of a blog post all its own. But regarding this specific issue, the ability to run multiple browser window clients will generally work well for the Notes client requirement and will be exciting to have. (I saw the process in a demonstration in an earlier session), but not so much for the mobile verse app. Still, we are making progress!
- Can you give us some statistics on the number of customers and business partners?
Response (Richard Jefts): They have about 1500 business partners and over 15,000+ customers and over 10 million applications actively in use. They are working to expand that number.
- Asking about what solutions are coming to integrate with tools to handle legal holds on mail data, etc.
Response (Andrew Manby/Richard Jefts): They are actively working with external vendors to improve integration with backup, anti-virus, eDiscovery solutions. They believe HCL solutions currently offered today provide security and compliance functionality that other companies can’t. Regarding Connections, they have OEM integration for compliance and auditing. HCL will also be working on developing functionality within the product.
- Domino 10 is missing functionality to extract data from Domino into Excel (NotesSQL ODBC driver)(spelling?)
Response (Andrew Manby): That functionality does exist in V10 and there is a technote on it. See one of us one-on-one. DQL will also provide even richer integration with 3rd party vendors that have their own ODBC solutions that integrate with Excel, Tableau, Power Tools, etc.
- What is happening with xPages?
Response (Andrew Davis): 2 new technologies that solve some of the problems that xPages solves, such as Nomad Web which bypasses the need to web enable apps, and Sandstone (a new term for me). Given that xPages is still unmatched for what it does using a graphic UI builder to modernize apps, we will continue to maintain it and support it. Ram Krishnamurthy is rebuilding the development team for xPages in Designer. There are still challenges. xPages is based on JSF and Java which are standards that all other software vendors are moving away from.
- When can we get access to try out LEAP for Domino?
Response (Andrew Davis/Andrew Manby): Visit the HCL LEAP Sandbox today. It will be shipping in Q1 2020.
- Customer case number xxx, Data palate (?) in xPages is not working.
Response (Ram Krishnamurthy): Glad you’re here so we can discuss in person. We cannot reproduce that issue, please see me afterwards.
My Feedback: THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD COME TO COLLABSPHERE! Nothing better than working directly with the developers one-on-one to solve your problems.
- Siri on my (the person asking the question) iPad detected that I was traveling to Boston on x date and asked “would you like me to add it to your calendar?”
Response (Andrew Davis): Most providers would not like to provide Siri with that level of access to your information. There are other means of adding those travel notifications to your calendar (Difficult to hear the entire response)
- What is going to happen to all the technotes and forums that are currently on IBM websites that are about to go away?
Response (Andrew Davis/Danielle Baptiste/Tim Clark): We are very much aware of the problem and are in the process of recreating the content on HCL websites and working to make it crawled by Google. If you find problems, please report them. They are considering moving the knowledgebase back into a Notes database like it once was.
My Feedback: Many people have been asking for the knowledgebase to move back to Notes for a long time. This allows you to replicate the database, mark documents as read, and then monitor new documents as they show up unread. It’s why Notes is so powerful and so much richer than any web interface.
- Business Partner revenue for selling software licenses has been dramatically reduced from what we were making through IBM. What are you doing to correct this?
Response (Richard Jefts): We are working to clean things up because the data we received from IBM was inaccurate. As licenses are done this year, we will have a baseline for future licensing.
- Any plans to make it possible to have multiple instances of Designer running or multiple windows in Designer?
Response (Andrew Davis): Our investment in Designer is focusing on the Nomad strategy. They are hinting at (no commitment to ship) they will be able to run the admin and designer clients inside the Nomad web technology. With that you will be able to run multiple instances of any of these clients.
- It appears that the intent is for business partners to get 10% of software license sales. With IBM that opportunity was as high as 47%. That means now I have to sell $1M in licenses in order to make enough revenue to pay someone to handle software sales. Because there are many small deals in this space, that makes earning that revenue very labor-intensive. I tip [waiters] 20%, so I pay my servers better than you pay your partners. Is your intent to run the small business partners out of the software sales licensing business?
Response (Richard Jefts): We are 100 days into this business as a startup. We recognize we don’t really have a partner program yet and what you see today is not where we will remain.
- Will we see single sign on across HCL websites?
Response (Tim Clark): Given our list of priorities, it is the strategic decision to not take this on at this time. We have chosen other priorities for now as a startup company.
- Regarding Connections plugins for Notes, when will we get updates and what is the way forward?
Response (Ram Krishnamurthy): the Connections plugin for V10 on Mac is not working and we are actively working on getting it released in the next few weeks. The Windows version has been released.
- Will we see a new iteration of Greenhouse and a public Sametime community?
Response (Danielle Baptiste/Andrew Manby): We are working on setting up a Connections trial environment. The intention is to make Sametime also available in that environment. The Sametime and Connections teams are working to on guest access to make sure that it is a good experience before we release something.
- We have had many problems with accessing Flexnet. What is the plan if those are not fixed?
Response (Richard Jefts): They will be fixed. That team has a backlog of feature requests and changes that we need to make. The product has a lot of flexibility to it, so we are also in the process of configuring it to best meet the need. Initially we didn’t have all the experience needed to implement it properly, but that has been addressed and the team is working to fix it.
My Feedback: I have found that when I had issues, I brought it up with their team and they were very responsive in their efforts to get my account corrected.
- Will we see more attention to improvements in the Admin client?
Response (Andrew Manby/John Paganetti): We are looking at this in the V12 timeframe and this is closely tied to admin user management and the app store. As mentioned earlier, there is the potential that we will see the admin client appear in the web assembly later. We have added the ability to post admin client enhancements in the aha product enhancement website and there are a lot of 3rd party tools already available as well.
- Regarding educational material, documentation, training: Many of us started programming in the old days when we had the useful help database, but that has gone away. What changes will we see in code samples, documentation, and other education material?
Response (Jason Gary): We need to get more in the model of having quick tutorials, and 2-minute videos that people can watch the concept and immediately apply what they learn. Over the next 12-24 months we will be heading more in the rich media direction vs trying to recreate the help as it is in the Notes client today. Also moving toward interactive learning materials that pause, ask questions, etc. Also, you will see that increasingly we are moving toward API explorers that pop up. Effectively the API explorer is the documentation.
- We would like to get back to having Knowledgebase as a Notes database where it can be replicated and unread marks can provide the ability to see what is new (via unread marks) and mark things read. Can you bring this back?
Response (Tim Clark): It’s a lot of work to bring that back but we can have the discussion to consider it.
- Repeatedly one of the most requested items in IdeaJam has been a free Community version of Domino to enable developers to learn without needing to buy a server license.
Response (Andrew Manby): We are working through the legal team to bring that back.
- Can we get Swiftfile and MTBF integrated into the product?
Response (Ram Krishnamurthy): We are close to getting Swiftfile performance good enough to include in the product.
(John Paganetti): I originally created MTBF for internal use and then found it of great value and gave it out for free. It may be a good candidate for posting on OpenNTF or handing it over to someone to refine. It is all written against the SDK so there are no hidden secrets in it. If people want it now, join the Client Advocacy program and make the request and I can get it to you. Meanwhile we will look at how that could be added to the product.
My Feedback: You can find the Windows and Linux versions downloadable here in my blog post: https://davidhablewitz.com/2011/04/27/mtbf-for-windows-64-bit-os/
- Will we see integration between Verse and Connections?
Response (Andrew Manby/Danielle Baptiste): We are already actively working on cross-platform integrations. better integration between Sametime–Connections and Sametime–Verse. We have a robust integration strategy that also includes integrating Connections with Sharepoint and O365.
- Do you have any updates regarding the relationship between HCL and OpenNTF?
Response (Tim Clark): I just got approval from the CEO’s office to sponsor with the exact proposal that the OpenNTF team requested. So all of it will be covered as of January 1, .
- Can you get rid of Modal dialog boxes?
Response (Ram Krishnamurthy): There are some cases where it cannot be avoided, but there are some where that makes sense. Just let us know via the aha idea website.
My Feedback: One that comes to mind in particular is editing location documents in the Notes client. This should behave the way it used to before Eclipse (and the way it still works in the admin client). The idea website is at
- Can we get a resizable info box (Properties box)?
Response (Ram Krishnamurthy): That is actually a very complex component that is not a Windows standard control; it is a Notes custom control. The ROI is very expensive considering end users generally do not use that box.
My Feedback: As an admin I find myself using it often and frequently guiding end users to this during support calls. Alt-Enter.
- What is the plan for a future large-scale conference hosted by HCL (HCLotusphere)?
Response (Tim Clark): Do you want us to spend our budget on one big annual event or do you prefer us to sponsor these smaller user group events (CollabSphere, Engage, DNUG, etc)? (The audience responded overwhelmingly in favor of supporting these user group events.) We (HCL Software) are still a startup. Our view is also that we (HCL) have not earned it yet to kick off a big event. For now, the focus will be on these local user group events.
Keep track of this post of questions and watch what we see come from it. I expect that unlike in years past, I won’t find myself asking the same questions all over again and wondering why nothing has changed.
I was honored that HCL allowed me the opportunity to moderate this session. IBM’s attorneys would have never let that happen. That difference alone makes a big statement about how the new keeper is so different — and in a positive way — from the old. Moderating was a lot of fun and I thought the panel did an amazing job giving us answers that were sincere and for the most part acceptable or at least understandable. I appreciated the panelists’ candor. Feedback I heard from the attendees was very positive. I believe this is a good example of what we can expect from HCL going forward. I have ideas for improving the session in the future. One thing I will be sure next time to have water (and maybe a beer) available at the start for all the panelists. I must have done something right because afterwards I was invited to do it again at the HCL Factory tour next year.
I like to share when I find a solution that hasn’t been previously documented in a technote. The short story is this: If you encounter the following error when trying to launch Notes: CWPA4003W: Failed to load application from url: nrpc:/….nsfname=…
Then start by doing traditional maintenance on the local databases, especially names.nsf
You may encounter this error after a variety of events. In this particular case Notes gave this error and would not launch after running the installer to upgrade from 9.0.1 FP10 to 9.0.1 FP10 SHF315. The error persisted even after uninstalling and re-installing Notes — the first indication it might not be a problem with the software. Also, Notes would launch in basic mode or if you right click and select Run As Administrator. That misguided my troubleshooting into thinking it was an issue with Eclipse or Java. There is a similar issue reported in this technote:
Detailed steps to fix:
1. Edit the notes.ini and make sure it has the following line based on the version of Notes installed:
(If you have an earlier version, you have bigger problems and should be upgrading to the latest version, currently that is 10.0.1 FP3)
2. Launch a cmd prompt and change the path to the Notes program directory
3. enter these commands one at a time in this order:
nupdall names.nsf -R
(Note: it will prompt for the Notes password. When you type it in, nothing will appear to happen until you press enter.)
I highly recommend executing these commands on ALL of the local databases. To do so, just leave “names.nsf” out of the commands you enter.
If you are attending CollabSphere 2019, I look forward to seeing you there. I will be speaking in 2 sessions: Tuesday 11:00 – 11:45am – INF102 – Customer Success Story: Domino Reliability saved Clickbook.net for months with no employees!
And Wednesday 3:00 – 4:00pm – GS03 – Ask HCL Session Moderator
If you cannot attend or if you are shy about stepping up to the microphone to ask your question, please post your question as a comment here and I will do my best to get an answer for you. I will save the best questions for the “Ask HCL” session. Please share this in your social media channels.
See you at CollabSphere 2019!
HCL has just launched their community that will serve as our new place to interact with HCL and other professionals that use their software. It’s already fast becoming a useful forum of information. Join the community and post your burning questions and be sure to contribute answers too. Here is the link.
I’m hoping HCL will integrate the aha Ideajam site into this forum (click here to vote for it) so we can have a similar scoreboard feature for contributing product ideas and add a Sametime chat community like we once had with IBM Greenhouse (click here to vote for ST chat) and integrate OpenNTF into this new HCL community. (click here to vote for OpenNTF integration) In an ideal world, this would become the homepage where everything else related to HCL collaboration software is linked. Here are the forums it has so far:
- Digital Experience
If ever there were a reason to attend a short conference related to Notes, Domino, Sametime, and Connections, this is the one. It will be the first public opportunity in the U.S. to hear about everything that is happening with the software and the company behind it since HCL acquired it from IBM at the end of June. And this year I will be the moderator for the “Ask HCL” session.
This is also one of the best opportunities to share your own professional knowledge with your peers. But the deadline is August 18th, so get it written up and submitted now! Here is the link. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it can’t be considered if you don’t turn something in. The benefits of speaking go beyond free entry to the conference. Speaking at conferences and user groups is one of the leading activities considered when IBM and now HCL selects people for IBM Champion and HCL Master recognition. It’s great for the resume too.
It is not that HCL Masters are selected to be speakers.
It is that speakers are selected to be HCL Masters.
If you want to participate in the public beta testing for HCL Notes & Domino V11, register here: https://registration.hclpartnerconnect.com/betasignup.nsf/register
Study this video to learn there is no limit to how much you can enhance your speech with body language:
And watch this video (starting at 3:07) to see just how much difference a well-placed pause… can make in your speech. Notice when the biggest laughs come. Imagine replacing the beat with words and make your speech much more humorous with nothing more than………….a pause.