Notes/Domino Express with Clustering, DA, and web access - Thoughts on how IBM can solve the issues

December 1 2010

So watching the reactions of people to Ed's announcement that Domino Express was going to get clustering as part of the entitlement has been interesting. I think IBM adding clustering to the Express offering is great, but also agree that the Directory Assistance should not be withheld from the Express entitlement. It is a no brainer and I hope it gets added in the short term.

Ed's second post about this brings even more discussion, but really focuses on the thought around applications access on the web. Express does not allow external authenticated or anonymous web access to Domino applications. The Utility Express Domino license covers this. Utility Express is not cheap nor expensive - US$2700 for 100 PVUs. But should IBM really be charging for something like a blog, running the IBM blog template, on a server?

I think there are two ways to solve this problem. The first is that IBM make the following to the IBM Domino Collaboration Express entitlement:

1. Allow DA for all Domino Express entitlements
2. Allow Anonymous web access for Domino Collaboration Express entitlement
3. Change product listing prices to be more in line with how people buy hardware today. For those purchasing server hardware - has anyone bought anything but quad core processors in the past two years? I don't think any hardware I have speced has been anything under a dual processor with quad cores. That is 800 PVUs ... so why can't IBM list the prices for 400 and 800 PVUs and just call them single and dual processor licenses. It would make it much easier on the customers if they didn't have to figure out the PVUs with a calculator. As a partner, I don't mind the PVU measurement - but I never expose that to my customers.
4. Figure out a way to allow authenticated web access without giving away the product.

I take real issue with the comments that IBM should give away authenticated web access for all Express licenses and make the larger enterprises pay for it. At the end of the day, IBM is in a for profit business, and everyone needs to pay for what they use. But there needs to be a bridging of the gap. Most < 1000 companies aren't going to spend 10k on a Utility Express server to run a single XPages application.

Longer term, this discussion just screams a need for applications in the shifting SMB marketplace, which is moving to the cloud more and more. You don't see Google or Microsoft going after the SMB space with on premises solutions today. Microsoft 360 is directly targeted at the SMB and mid market. Google Apps is the big gorilla in the SMB space. Without it, I am not sure Microsoft 360 or LotusLive would even exist! So IBM really needs to get LotusLive ready to handle the SMB custom application needs. There are a few ways to do this. Some thoughts:

1. Get apps on LotusLive thru a partnership with Group Live (or something else). LL would handle the registration, financials, and pass thru. Make it seamless. I don't care if is hosted on a separate server. As long as it ends up using the same Notes id and in the same UI on the web, the back-end packaging doesn't matter.
2. Do the same as above except with an Amazon hosted Domino servers that are out there now. Should be possible and straight forward. IBM could even pass thru the entire Amazon cost as long as they managed the entire process.
3. Get Domino application on LL natively. If they are worried about custom applications, fine. Start small. Give customers the ability to host the standard templates: XPages Discussion, IBM Blog, Team Room, Document Library. Maybe even one or two of the apps from or things like IdeaJam. Easy to test and certify and then allow users to spin up copies for themselves. As a start, even not allowing customization would be OK. But this would be step one in a larger process and would be well received.

As I try to look out into the future for the next couple of years, I see the SMB market moving almost completely to the cloud. Far quicker than the mid market or enterprise markets. Heck, you could even argue that most SMB's are already moving there today. This will just accelerate. IBM needs to get LotusLive competitive on custom applications with Microsoft and Google. No one has a perfect solution for custom applications yet in the cloud ... the killer combo of XPages and hosted Domino with LotusLive services is something IBM should jump on today.