You only have to glance at my tag cloud or my site introduction paragraph in the sidebar to the right to see that I’ve not called myself “A Notes person” for quite some time – however I still have clients who use the technology, and as such I can’t help keep an eye on things.
Vowe’s recent post “Things I learned at the DNUG conference in Berlin” shows that a lot of the things I’ve noticed about the IBM/Lotus market in New Zealand are happening in other places too. New Zealand has always been a stronghold for Microsoft, and so when IBM claimed that the global brand was doing so well it was easy to figure that it was just New Zealand where it felt like the future of the product was in doubt.
I have more to write about this in the near future, but it’s important I take the time to write it up properly before posting, so for now here’s some comments on Vowe’s post with a New Zealand perspective thrown in.
On DNUG conference attendance:
It's the customers that are staying away. If you look at the conference guide listing all attendees, you can't help but notice that the largest contingent are IBM and Business Partners. While BPs have a large incentive to go there and get their people to learn new stuff, they also attend to meet new customers. That is why they sponsor the conference and set up booths.
Certainly this has felt like the case at New Zealand based IBM events. It’s the same BPs attending, and a distinct lack of customers. Compare that to something like Tech Ed which always sells out very quickly, has a buzz of excitement around it, quite simply feels like a major technical event should. I attended Lotus Fusion in the Gold Coast of Australia around 1999 which had a similar feel, but that’s the only IBM event I’ve ever attended that did.
I am finding there are quite a few people looking for work in the Notes space. When they lost their jobs, they try to go freelance, but the demand is low, and some are not made to go it alone. Not a problem for the flexible, strong people, but certainly so for the average. The drive to the cloud will only accelerate this trend. You definitely need fewer people to run the shop. That's one of the driving forces.
I have some stats available from the a another angle here. For the past 2 and a bit years I’ve been subscribed to SEEK (the main job search website in New Zealand) summary mailings, which send out regular mails based on various search criteria. I’ve had one running for Notes/Domino for many many years, and have left it going alongside an ASP.NET one in the interests of comparison (I’ve not actually looked for a job in many years). Here’s the criteria I’m using in the SEEK website for each of the separate profiles:
ASP.NET: ASP.NET OR .NET OR C#, in the Auckland region, IT&T Classification, with any sub classification.
Lotus Notes/Domino: (LOTUS AND NOTES) OR DOMINO, in the Auckland region, IT&T Classification, with any sub classification. It’s important to notice that the Lotus Notes criteria is quite broad, and most of the jobs which match this criteria are first/second line Helpdesk support roles. So they’re rather irrelevant, and make the numbers a lot higher than they would be otherwise. It also means that search will be returning potential Developer and Administrator positions, whereas the .NET search results are almost always relevant developer jobs. So the Notes subscription has a chance of making things look a bit healthier than they are. I had to do Lotus AND Notes because otherwise I was getting false matches on things like "Notes for this job: You must turn up fairly sober.” and things like that.
Anyway, here’s the results graphed quickly in Excel:
While these aren’t the most scientific of statistics, I do find them interesting to look at (and of course the drop in both at the end is due to it being a part month of June – I should probably have cut all of June out, but oh well).
An interesting side note about these statistics is that I used Lotus Notes to help compile them. The easiest way to grab the raw data from the Gmail folder was to connect Notes via IMAP, copy the documents into a local database, and create a quick view summarising the data before throwing it into Excel. Irony is always funny.
While I want to believe Lotus management that they are well equipped to compete in the global market, I would not want to accept the same for the German market. But that's just me.
No, it’s probably not – it’s certainly been the feeling in the New Zealand market for quite some time too.
There’s some great features that have been delivered for developers, administrators, and of course the business in the 8.x stream of releases, and yes Lotus has been improving their marketing, but it feels like too little too late. In cases where IT strategies were formed a while ago I suspect it would take a lot more than recent improvements to convince IT Managers/Directors to reverse their decisions and stick with Notes/Domino (although of course it could happen, and fairly easily in some cases).
In my client base a few of my customers are actively engaged in the process of their migrations, with enquiries from another about wanting to start theirs. Some of these migrations are due to them running old applications which haven’t had a design overhaul in years, and yes these applications could be updated to use XPages and other recent technologies, but the clients are simply not prepared to spend the money on these things – in their minds, it’s money better put towards their migration plans. Given that the applications have a legacy feel to them, I’m certainly not complaining about not having to maintain them anymore.
Obviously the German/European market and the New Zealand market are very different, but as a bystander it is interesting to know that the same patterns are emerging in more places than just here*.
(* well, technically there not here given I’m in Norway at present!)
Tags: IBM, Lotus, Notes, Domino