The IBM Mail Next Webinar - Thoughts and Questions

April 23 2014

IBM has the first public webinar around IBM Mail Next since unveiling it at IBM Connect this past January. I thought I would highlight a few thoughts and questions I have.

(before I go on, IBM did say this was a point in time and nothing was set in stone and everything was subject to change. So keep that in mind as you continue reading please)

The webinar was mostly high level about the process, but we did see two specific 'demos' (more on that later) around the calendar timeline and faceted search. First, I think the design concepts shown by Scott detailed that IBM is trying to do more than build a new web email client. There is real innovation being attempted. I see that innovation in the flat list of attachments and links from the search results. I loved that. I want that right now.

We also got an updated detailed architecture slide:

Image:The IBM Mail Next Webinar - Thoughts and Questions


This slides confirms that IBM Mail Next is being targeted at web / cloud deployments first. Yes, you can see Domino in there - prominently. But you also see SmartCloud Engage, Apache SolrCloud, and other components. So yes, it is based on Domino technology, but there are more components as well.

Here is the IBM timeline for IBM Mail Next for 2014:
Image:The IBM Mail Next Webinar - Thoughts and Questions


This is an aggressive timeline for anyone, but it also has zero mention of anything on-premises.

Last, we have a direction statement on how you will get IBM Mail Next:
Image:The IBM Mail Next Webinar - Thoughts and Questions


What this means for existing Notes & Domino customers is that to use IBM Mail Next in it's first version, you must be on IBM SmartCloud Notes.

So this is not a negative blog post about the cloud. PSC does quite a bit of work with cloud technologies around messaging and application development. My questions really boil down to when will Notes & Domino customers who do not want to move their mail to the cloud will have a roadmap and strategic plan that includes the IBM Mail Next functionality and interface. I think IBM missed a real opportunity to excite and assure the existing customer base that the road map includes them. As a proud IBM SmartCloud Notes Migration business partner, I still hear of customers who want to stay on premises. Those of them on the call today probably have more questions than answers.

IBM's vision of a highly integrated software suite was also reinforced today. It's IBM, so I don't see them forcing IBM Connections on Notes & Domino customers. They don't do that with IBM Notes & Domino 9, but to take full advantage of the Social Edition features, you need IBM Connections. I see the same thing happening here. What works where and what is required for each feature are important questions I hope are answered as soon as the on-premises vision and architecture is shared.

Last, the mobile mail experience is still an open question. Having a HTML based email client is great, but I read 90% of all my email on my phone (happens to be an iPhone). My initial read and action is done on the small screen, be it delete, forward, reply, or file. I don't interact with a rich client as much as the mobile experience. So is a native IBM Mail Next experience coming? There was mention at IBM Connect 2014 of a native iOS client coming to match the experience available on Android. Is that coming for IBM Mail Next as well? The new functionality in IBM Mail Next is great, but it's lost on me if it's only 'on the glass' in a web browser.

For those that did not attend, the slides and webinar recording should be posted within the next 48 hours.

What did you think of the webinar?  Would love to hear other's thoughts on what we saw today.