I saw a note a couple weeks ago marking the 15th anniversary of Lotus Notes going on sale. Now for most of you, that
mean absolutely nothing. To those of us who were systems integrators back then, it was a big deal. To my company
MicroSolutions, it was HUGE deal. It also marks, what I think was one of the greatest missed opportunities in the
history of personal computing.
Lotus Notes should have been the front end and backend for the internet. It should have been the first
WebServer. It should have been the first browser. It obviously wasnt.
It was the first collaborative computing application that could allow people around the world to share information.
Touch informatin one time, make it available to everyone. Unfortunately, it was priced as if it were a
proprietary mainframe application from an era when closed systems were considered a good idea. Prices started at
Even at that price, it was an amazing application that changed the way my and our customers businesses worked. It
made us all dramatically more productive, and accelerated the acceptance of multimedia and email into corporate
America. It set the precedent of connecting companies electronically with their customers.
Below, is an article that I wrote for Computer Reseller News. From 1992 through 1995, when AudioNet was really
kicking in and I didnt have the time, I wrote a weekly article for them. This is the one I wrote about Notes. I thought
i would bring it back in commeration of its birthday. Below the article, I also added my “resume” from back then. Talk
about a blast from the past, but its funny to look at now. So enjoy the laugh !
Why You Should Be Selling Lotus Notes.
When did you decide to sell Local Area Networks ? Why ? Was it in 1983 or 1984, and you were
convinced that LANs could be of value to your customers ? Or did you wait until 1988 because
your customers didn’t start asking you about them until then. Or was it 1989 because you had no
choice, it was the only way to make any margin dollars on a sale ?
The dates will be different for most, but the point will remain the same for all; either you had
the vision, or you followed the pack. Those with vision recognized the value of LANs to their
customers and made the investment to learn ,understand, then master and sell the technology. The rest were dragged in.
Some by customers, others by vendor requirements for authorizations, the rest probably out of desperation .
In my experience, the strongest competition I faced was from those with vision, the early
adopters. Not only did they have a long list of references, and were financially stable, but
because they knew the base technology well, they were easily able to adapt to new enhancements and operating systems.
This enabled them to compete in new arenas of were margins were strongest, and competition was at a minimum. Places
were there was plenty of business for the few resellers able to provide the technology.
What does this have to do with Lotus Notes ? LANs were the first way a company could share
peripherals, and to a lesser extent, share data. Lotus Notes is the first application that
allows those users to collaborate.
Where other applications provide quantitative information such as numbers, dates, times, Notes
allow users to collaborate and provide qualitative information. Groupware and forms routing
applications allow for emulation of the way a company has always done business. Lotus
Notes helps companies to reinvent themselves and develop a competitive advantage.
If you have the chance to talk to a company that has fully implemented Notes, do it. The impact
is phenomenal. Without exception I have seen success stories. New ways of doing business. Links
to customers. Applications developed in hours. Reduced layers of management. Michael Dell in
the New York Times said that he used Notes instead of holding meetings. Compaq is using it to
communicate internally and with customers. Intel is using it in dozens of ways, and its Chairman
Andy Grove has gone on record as saying that Collaboration software , beginning with Lotus
Notes is the way of the future.
I’m not trying to sell you on Notes, I’ll leave that to Lotus. The critical point is that Notes is
the first of a genre of software that fosters collaboration. It will not be the last. Those
resellers that make the investment to learn the software, and more importantly use the software
internally , will find themselves in position to make sales and significant margins TODAY.
Those that succeed with it, will be the leaders in selling a software technology that in 1990’s
will surpass the impact that LANs had in the 1980’s.
Those of you who would like to discuss this column, your ideas, feel free to email me on CompuServe at
In 1982 I founded MicroSolutions Inc. in Dallas, Texas. MicroSolutions was a Systems
Integrator that specialized in providing objective solutions to business problems. Our mission
was to improve the productivity and profitability of each of our customers.
We began as a systems house, developing database applications, and accounting
systems. In 1983 we began our course into the Systems Integration market by becoming one of
Novell’s first Netware resellers. In 1984, we sold our first LAN, and by 1990 we had sold
well over 500 networks, ranging in size from 2 to more than 1,000 users, and from not only
Novell, but also, 3Com, IBM, Banyan, Applleand Sun.
Among our strengths were :
– Our ability to be objective with our customers. Our analysts were trained in all
leading Network Operating Systems and were able to recommend the best solution rather
than the most popular.
– Our Investment in Leading Edge Technology
We made significant investments in technology so our customers wouldnt have to. While our
competitors waited for their customers to ask for a given technology, we made the effort
to learn and demonstrate them so that when they became viable, we were ready to support
– Our dedication to our Customers.
More than 70% of our business was repeat business. We tried to keep our customers for
life. We also invested in technology to improve our ability to support them. We were
early adopters of online support systems such as Carbon Copy in the mid-1980’s, and
Lotus Notes and CompuServe in the late 1980’s.
Among our projects and accomplishments are :
Developed an EDI application that automatically routed shipping questions and requests
from Neimans Shipping Department to the UPS data center. This application reduced
package tracing time from several days to several hours.
In 1989, MicroSolutions installed what was at that time the largest Netware for
Macintosh installation, more than 150 Macs on two Netware servers. We knew it was the
largest , because its complexity required that the orginal developers of the code,
Dayna Systems come to the client site and recompile modifications that enabled the
server to handle the required number of workstations. These modifications were later
added to the release version.
MicroSolutions has been recognized as the primary Network Support Organization for
MEPUS since 1990. We have been responsible for their Banyan and IBM Lan Server
installations supporting thousands for workstations around the country.
In 1988, Developed an imaging system that recorded images of jewelry and integrated
them into a purchase order request system. This allowed the buyers of the organization
to view jewelry as they were defining purchase orders, and dramatically reduced the
multi-million dollar samples inventory required, as well as the time to complete a
All of this allowed MicroSolutions to become a $25mm company in 1990. Among the
accolades we received were to be named to the Inc 500 three years in a row, ranking as high as #
39, the Lan Magazine Lan 100, ranking as high as # 19, and we recognized in the trade press as a
leader in the industry many times.
In July of 1990, I sold the company to CompuServe Inc, a subsidiary of H&R Block. It
has since been renamed CompuServe Systems Integration Group.
Lotus Notes Resume
In October of 1989, I saw Lotus Notes for the first time at Comdex. The potential of
this software struck me immediately. Where software in the past allowed individuals to
automate tasks, Notes allowed organizations to collaborate. Where software in the past
processed quantitative information, Notes handled qualitative information.
The value to MicroSolutions customers would be immense, so I wrote a letter to Lotus
senior management asking for the opportunity to become a VAR. At the time, Notes sold
only by Lotus directly, and really had not been marketed to more than a few select
I visited Lotus in November of 1989 and attempted to sell the Notes team on our value as
part of their Strategic Alliance Program. Because of our extensive networking
expertise in a variety of network operating systems, and our ability to test the product,
we became a beta test site.
Our first step was to install Notes at MicroSolutions in early 1990, and begin our work
as a beta site. We not only used the product internally, with well over 50 users, but
also developed quite a few applications in it. We began experimenting on ourselves. We
held brainstorming sessions on Notes, reduced the number of meetings we held, implemented
a Service Dispatch and Tracking System, a Technical Document Management Systems, a
Service Request System and much more, all within the first 6 months.
From a technical standpoint, we were very active with Lotus in enabling Notes to run on
Banyan networks. Initially, Lotus did not want to support Banyan because of Banyan’s
limited netbios support. Because of our experience with both Notes and Banyan, we were
able to design enhancements to Banyan’s NDIS driver, and contract Banyan to make the
modifications required to allow Notes to run on Banyan. This change led to
MicroSolutions signing up MCI as Lotus’ first Banyan based Notes customer. Since
then, Banyan has become such a popular platform for Notes, Lotus modified Notes so
that Banyan is the only native protocol supported.
In February of 1991, MicroSolutions become one of Lotus’ first VARs. Since then we
have sold Notes to an every expanding lists of clients, including The Thomas Group,
Mobil, Johnson & Johnson, Chevron, Coopers & Lybrand, Maxus Energy, Michaels
Stores, Young Presidents Organization and many more.
Among the Notes services that we have provided are:
– Application Design and Development
– API Programming Services
– Implementation Planning Services
– On Line Support
– Customer Interface Applications
56 thoughts on “A little bit of history….Lotus Notes”
In response to Phil.
\”in my 10 years of developing apps with it I have found that the people who hate it are generally the ones who just haven\’t got a clue about how to use it,\”
The whole point of email and calendar functionality is that they should be easy to use. Most people I have heard complaining are users. Users require things to be no more clunky and complicated than the functionality requires. I.e. simple rather than simplistic.
Comment by Michael Joyce -
It was a completely new way of doing things, and as Mark notes, it should have become the front end to the internet. (Come to think of it, blogs are a lot like a basic Notes application from back then.) I was always surprised that it never took off quite the way I expected; when it did become popular, other companies were primarily using it for email and ignored its amazing potential for collaborative applications.
Comment by runescape money -
It’s a shame that some people seem to “get” Notes and others not. When you’re pushing it as so much more than an email app and you see their eyes glaze over it feels like such a waste of a great app.
Comment by wow powerleveling -
From 1996 – 1999 we used Lotus Notes/Domino Servers to run SLN, The SUNY Learning Network. It’s the State University of New York’s online, distance learning consortium. While I worked in Rochester, we had servers in Buffalo, Rochester, and Albany, Three more were added after I left. All of the online courses were updated each night and replicated from server to server so that there was always a real time backup. If one crashed, which didn’t happen, there were always several backups. Real time meant ALL the time as we had students in France and China. The doors were always open.
I used to say, if the server’s down, the door to the classroom’s closed.
My task was to make Monroe Community College the largest in terms of courses offered through SLN. When I left, we had 100 online courses, NYS certification in Dental Assisting and a degree in Physical Education. And I used to say, if ya can get a PE degree online, we can do anything.
If I needed a change to the course listings, I called my colleague buddy in Albany, and he made it so right then. Notes was easy for faculty to use and for the tech side of the house to maintain.
Ah, but that was a different life.
Comment by tiptoe -
This has been a stroll down memory lane. I have developed over 100 applications in Lotus Notes / Domino and found the product to do everything I needed it to do. As a history lesson the product was developed by Lotus Development Corporation and IBM bought it because it was to successful a product and was competition to their products. That is why they do not market it like they should. Another product that they did the same with was Platinum Accounting Software. Platinum did not like what IBM was doing with their software and bought it back. I wish a Lotus like company would buy Lotus Notes. Just a thought!
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Comment by cheap phone sex -
Boy! The real point, is that the end user is the consumer of your product. In this case, the UI has gotten so out of control, that it becomes unusable. The backend may be wonderful, and be greatly extensible, but there comes a point when something becomes overdeveloped to the where it becomes counterproductive/intuitive. Notes has surpassed that point. I am a former mail administrator familiar with multiple mail/collaboration systems. The following gross errors occur on Notes:
1) Unintuitive archival process; local storage declaration is nearly impossible
2) Calendar events go against your storage requirements
3) Lack of single message repository with multiple pointers, the message goes against everyone’s quota and is stored many times, driving up storage requirements
4) Lack of drag and drop capability in the GUI
5) Calendaring interface has many errors
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The point is that the interface is to the point that it has become bloatware, and needs a real overhaul to bring it into the 21st century.
I believe those that are in support of Notes, have not experienced anything else. The point being that if it can’t do messaging well, then you have a fundamental problem. Do that well first, then add the other functionality!!
Comment by Joe -
Lotus Notes sure has been around a long time.
Comment by Theodore -
I’ve been a Notes Developer for 4 years now.. It’s a great product. Hopefully IBM doesn’t can it.
Comment by briansmith -
Pity, that — you haven’t really been exposed to Notes until you used the “other features” (which, by the way, is the core functionality, not mail — mail is just a happy accident of database-to-database messaging on the platform). Are you telling me that you can’t see a use for shared information or process flow in your department, or that a “decision on high” has eliminated that from consideration? Apart from that, though, the “clunkiness” beats the living daylights out of continual virus problems, and a large amount of the clunkiness is a result of expecting things to work the same way as they would in an email-only client. Believe it or not, we hear the same complaints from users who are forced to migrate off of Notes — the new client doesn’t do what Notes does, and what it does do it doesn’t do in the same way.
Comment by Stan Rogers -
This is coming from someone who’s strictly an enduser: I don’t care for Notes. It was imposed upon us by our IT department. All we really need it for is email; none of the other features are being used, and they never will be used by our department. I find it to be pretty clunky and outdated for email usage in 2004/2005, and I’d even prefer to backtrack to Netscape Communicator rather than struggle along with Notes.
Comment by CT -
I remember calling you years ago after reading one of your articles in CRN. I was a broker at the time at prudential looking for business and you were very nice and excited about your new company….I wish you let me invest in your company. 🙂
Comment by Marc -
Thanks for the drive down memory lane. It was especially interesting for me to read your post as I got my introduction to Notes at a company called Searra (honestly can’t remember if that’s the correct spelling !!) which was also purchased by Compuserve around to the time Microsolutions was to become the other half of Compuserve’s systems integration group. My main reason for joining Searra was to work with Lotus Notes. One of my early memories of working with Lotus Notes was going to do a sales presentation to a large law firm in Washington DC with a guy from Texas named Mark Cuban !! I think we did well but the firm just didn’t get it !! Many years later they did standardize on Notes and still use it for all of their collaborative applications.
I continued to work directly with Notes for the next 12 years and still have some interaction with it while running the IT Services Division of a Healthcare and Pharmaceutical services company. While we work with a huge array of technologies I still find myself coming back to Notes/Domino to implement the tough, results oriented, quick hit solutions.
Thanks again for the ride down memory lane and congratulations on all of your successes since leaving CompuServe.
Comment by Neil Agate -
I got started with Lotus Notes in 1994. Lotus was way ahead of it’s time. The replication technology Notes had 10 years ago was better than the replication that is available for relational databases today.
The “Lotus Notes Web Publisher” and then eventually Domino extended Lotus Notes capabilities to the web very nicely.
I just wish Lotus Notes had worked out as well for me as it did for you Marc!! (Even a tenth would be reasonable)
All I got was this stupid Lotus shirt from Lotusphere!
Comment by KC -
Great post. I read you blogs when ever I get a chance. This is the first time that I have commented. I work for Lotus Notes and Domino and everyone at IBM appreciates your article. I have passed it along to just about every IBMer I know and everyone is impressed.
Comment by Ted Stanton -
Great post. I read you blogs when ever I get a chance. This is the first time that I have commented. I work for Lotus Notes and Domino and everyone at IBM appreciates your article. I have passed it along to just about every IBMer I know and everyone is impressed.
Comment by Ted Stanton -
Great post. Funny that you reference the power of Lotus Notes in the 80’s and early 90’s. From 2002-2004, the company I worked for (a national department store chain) relied solely on the original Lotus 1-2-3 and Lotus Notes for all company spreadsheet, forms, and email. Having graduated college in 2001 and never used Lotus, I am proud to say that I am now a wyziwig master!
Comment by Jimmy Zissler -
Thanks for posting. Happy Birthday Notes! I thought you used to write for PCWeek. I remember your Notes article! Yes, I used to read your column.
Regarding the Internet/Web, I think we can safely say very few saw the potential, if any.
Let’s look at how most firms are collaborating today with the soft information. They are predominently using e-mail for their team collaboration. The fact remains that most firms could greatly benefit using Notes version 4 or greater with well written and deployed applications. The problem is you need to build applications for these teams and most IT shops aren’t up to the task. IT shops are built to push hardware and software to their users. A business focused Notes team needs to build custom business process solutions and train and support the users. Notes marries people, information, and communications. It’s the first and perhaps only platform in which the user an integral part of the database.
Most firms don’t provide custom collaboration solutions for their users. IT is more concerned with backend and management reporting. So millions of users are using e-mail to share and communicate. Millions of uses are storing vital information in their e-mail folders. A huge productivity waste.
Those firms who put the necessary resources and training behind well developed Notes solutions are much more competitive than those who don’t.
The answer isn’t to change Notes/Domino but rather to change the focus on what problems you’re trying to solve and how to best solve them. Notes/Domino today still solves some problems better than any hands down.
The Internet and Web only make Notes/Domino that much a better product. Soon we will embark on the age of the user, where their needs determine the technology used to solve their problems vs. the other way around.
btw, are you using Notes for email and collaborative applications? if not, what are you using?
Congratulations on your huge success.
Comment by Wayne Scarano -
All of the people I know who say “Notes stinks” (or worse) have been the types who’ve under-invested in the infrastructure beneath the Domino/Notes system or have decided to just use Notes as an e-mail service. Those who’ve invested in Notes to do things like CRM, capital appropriations, employee time reporting, or any of a number of other apps which required real security and auditability have been more than pleased with it.
Microsoft have spent a long time trying to find the “Notes Killer” app for a good reeason.
Comment by Bill Pappert -
Mark, i tried to follow the instructions:
“email me on CompuServe at 7004,216”
…but it crashed my computer.
On a more serious note, here’s yet another example of
great business insight.
One line I particularly liked:
“Those that succeed with it, will be the leaders in selling a software technology that in 1990’s will surpass the impact that LANs had in the 1980’s”
Yes, collaborative software was the future, and a fertile technological environment to help nurture the growth of collaborative software was just around the corner… namely, the Internet.
Comment by Martin Rivard -
Blast from the past! Cool stuff.
It was definitely an interesting and refreshing entry in your blog. I started out developing mapping software using C++ in a Unix environment, moving on to C++ in a Windows environment. I stumbled into Notes by accident in 1998, and I have no regrets.
Other than a superb debugger(e.g. Visual C++), I’ve not seen much from Microsoft in the development arena that truly impressed me in relation to what Notes can accomplish.
Unless you have millions and millions of records in a database, Microsoft’s array of tools to accomplish the task, and the number of employees necessary to accomplish said task, are totally unnecessary and a complete waste of money. Notes 7’s integration with DB2 as a backend might very well remove any reason for choosing MS Marketing over Lotus RAD, superb workflow, and integration with other products.
People with vision can see what Lotus accomplished and chose to use that vision to make tremendous contributions to their companies. Those without vision, follow someone else’s vision, and evidently harbor some deep emotional dislike for those who had the guts to step outside that box.
I have found that people who use Lotus Notes/Domino know that solving a problem for a customer/employer is paramount. They will readily admit if some other development tool will do a better job, mostly because they try them all ; ) Just don’t see that from MS developers that much. I guess they’re too busy writing all the extra code needed to accomplish the same thing.
Good luck to the Mavs. Caught the end of The Benefactor…sneaky, sneaky.
Comment by Jason Sheats -
Great post, and impressive resume, I’m sure you’ll take comfort that there’s still some Notes work out there if your current gig doesn’t work out…. 🙂
And congratulations if you actually read all of these posts….Just in case, I agree with you on Notes missig a few things. Here’s and excerpt of my take.
“And, (playing armchair strategist here,) it would have been cool if Lotus or IBM had bought Netscape or at least the rights to Navigator from AOL….then integrated the best parts of Navigator into the Notes client client, then gave it away as a next generation browser that worked with HTTP servers, but worked even better with Domino and WebSphere. Given how much of IBM’s current strategy relies on browser clients, this would have been a wise move, not to mention most cool.
Perhaps they can do the same thing with a turbocharged version of Firefox?
Well, at least they can buy Sun (and Java) as a consolation prize, once the price is right.…..”
The rest is at http://bbenz.typepad.com/softwaresoapbox/2004/12/notes_celebrate.html
Comment by Brian Benz -
That was indeed a great post – it’s always interesting to see how new technologies end up either changing the way we operate, or fade into oblivion…speaking of which, today is the tenth anniversary of Netscape Navigator 1.0, so all of you using Mozilla (or STILL using Netscape, for that matter), raise your glasses high!
Actually, the best thing about the post is the “email me on CompuServe at 7004,216” Lemme dig out my 300 bps modem and log on to the network…is that still an active address, Mark?
Comment by Anton -
Great read. The big question: How do I make money with Notes/Domino?
Comment by Joseph Pollone -
As an artist, I would like to comment on something I know nothing about…I do appreciate the inherent symbolism of the Lotus flower (or is it the fast unreliable car to which they refer?).
Comment by Steven -
Lotus Notes has been good to both you and me.
I rode the Lotus Notes wave as long as I could.
We still use it to develop internet sites, to host internet applications, and to write software in minutes.
However, neither Lotus nor IBM ever marketed Lotus Notes worth a darn, so therefore the world never did get interested in Notes.
It is still a wonderful product, but IBM needs to pass out some free CD’s with Notes Designer, and offer some free training at universities and major cities to promote Lotus Notes as it deserves.
How ’bout them Mavs?
Steve Lackey, Decatur, Texas
Comment by Steve Lackey -
I love lotus notes … STILL!!!
around the techies out there. there are those that love it and use it.. still.. and those that hate it..
Comment by Mike Verinder -
As I read your personal resume I found this to be very inspirational to those of us pursuing similar dreams, especially the points made on strengths.
Comment by David Enns -
I’ve been working with Notes since R3.2 (mid ’90s). This tool is the first and only one I’ve ever used that fits the way people think and act. People don’t think in ‘relational database’ terms. They think in broad categories and specifics and red and blue and… Notes lets people think and work the same way.
Add to it that this is a developer’s dream – two days – app is done. You can build working apps in incredibly short time frames and then tweak them to better fit the user’s needs without the need to rip and replace stuff.
When I have to work in other languages, it reminds me why Notes is so incredible.
Thanks for being a geek and blogging this topic.
Comment by Doug Finner -
Thanks for Reminiscing with us. You definitely did accomplish much with your first company, MicroSolutions eventually selling it to CompuServe.
What I don’t think you have talked about before is the actual process of selling it to them, how it came to be, how you settled upon the price, and if CompuServe was able to make good use of this acquisition. It would be rather interesting to all of us if you could share that. I may not be a big sports fan, but I always find enough of your business interest stories in your blog to keep coming back for.
Comment by Gary Miller -
Definitely a blast from the past. I came across Notes v2 in 1993 and realized it had unbelievable potential for creating a way of employee collaboration. Creating a core set of applications and implementing it within our 3000+ employee high-tech firm turned into my “mission” for the next 3 years. It was a completely new way of doing things, and as Mark notes, it should have become the front end to the internet. (Come to think of it, blogs are a lot like a basic Notes application from back then.) I was always surprised that it never took off quite the way I expected; when it did become popular, other companies were primarily using it for email and ignored its amazing potential for collaborative applications. To me, the email app was a nice side benefit but not the real reason to install Notes.
I left IT in 1997, around the time Notes R4 came out, and haven’t touched it since. But all the things I learned from installing Notes and trying to change company culture around sharing information have stuck with me in my new career as an academic studying marketing & organizational behavior. There’s at least a case study, and maybe a whole dissertation, to be written on this little bit of history.
Comment by Suz Shu -
huh? (scratching my bald head) 🙁
Comment by Luis -
I remember going up to Lotus in Cambridge in ’91 or ’92 to take an Intro to Notes class — it was the weekend before Notes v2.1 was released, and all I could think of was “Damn, this is some hot stuff right here!” My current firm is a Notes shop, and we’ve never been shut down by trojans or viruses. Ever. Thanks for the memories, Cubes!
Comment by Paul Zorovich -
Very interesting piece of history. I never particularly cared for Notes, however, I do NOW see the potential of what could have been. Great vision!
Comment by Jason Chapman -
so true that Lotus Notes could have been the “next big thing”, I still yearn for a way to take databases of information with me on the road but that is not possible with the way the web architecture is built and everyone is on-demand via HTTP pulls.
Comment by manish jain -
Notes actually started life as an unsupported internal ‘chat’ application at Digital Equipment Corporation in the early 80s.
Running over DECnet.
On the VAX/VMS operating system.
Before PCs even existed.
Comment by ScottR -
I have been developing with Notes, SQL, VB, Java and know c# for 5 years or so.
I agree that a notes database can be slow just like a Relational database can be if it poorly designed. Notes is an excellent product for what it does Email, Web, App Server all out of the box. If you want a Microsoft offering you have to buy all the bits and fit them together. I say that most people cannot pigeon-hole Notes like they can say Exchange (Exchange = EMail). Unfortunaltely IBM have a tendency to market their products poorly unlike Microsoft who do.
Comment by Paul Bowman -
I love Lotus Notes!
To all the Notes haters I have this to say: in my 10 years of developing apps with it I have found that the people who hate it are generally the ones who just haven’t got a clue about how to use it, how it can be deployed or what it can do for them …
Comment by Phil Thain -
What a wonderful stroll down memory lane. I got into Notes purely by accident when my then employer wanted it. We stuck it on a FSIOP in our AS/400, using a SMTP MTA for Officevision integration. It was a bit of a trial by fire – the ink on the Redbook was still wet 🙂
I thought it was purely an email app but, as I continued using it, I gradually realised that it could do so much more and now it can do literally anything. I’ve been a freelance Domino Infrastructure Consultant since then and wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s a shame that some people seem to “get” Notes and others not. When you’re pushing it as so much more than an email app and you see their eyes glaze over it feels like such a waste of a great app. Saying that, it can be hard to explain to decision makers exactly what it can do.
Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Notes client. For the average user it’s just too clunky, cumbersome and non-intuitive.
However, it’s got a heck of a lot slicker on R6 and so iNotes web client in R7B2 is just superb – finally a useable alternative! In addition, with the rich client on the horizon I see the future as extremely exciting. I feel Domino’s only weakness was the client and with a fantastic iNotes web (and Outlook) client and the pending rich client plug-ins that weakness is finally being addressed.
Here’s to another 15 years!
Comment by Ben -
Though I have been around two years in Lotus Domino/Notes Administration and a little of Application Development,I feel that Lotus and its family of products are great.Applications can be developed easily and can be merged with vrtually anything .The best part of Lotus products is the security features and the multi platform it can reside on.
However IBM is not marketing this product effectively like its counter part.Though it has its presence,I seriously feel that if the right approach is made on the marketing for spreading the product more aggressively across geographical locations then there is no doubt that Domino will be one of the best products in todays world of computing.
Overall Domino is a great product.
Comment by Yusuf M Morbiwala -
Let me begin by saying that Rod Trent clearly has issues…his rant is baseless, incoherent and rooted in something outside of reality…but I suppose ignorance is, indeed, bliss.
I graduated college almost three years ago with a degree in Computer Science…and was promoted within my organization to application developer, creating and deploying my work primarily within Lotus Notes R5. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work so extensively with this outstanding product. I have since become a PCLP in App Development, and could not be happier with what I have done with my degree. We use notes for everything from conference scheduling to engineering applications such as ECR Tracking, Software Evaluation, finance applications such as Purchase Requisitions and Capital Asset Requests, and general corporate manufacturing applications such as Project Tracking and other Six Sigma derivates. We are also leveraging notes for web conferencing(via sametime integration), and it is simply awesome…fully integrated into the Domino environment. We have designed a complete corporate intranet using lotus notes, allowing for the construction of user profiles upon first login containing such information as name, title, department, extension, and a listing of the access they have been granted to all databases within the environment with links to them as well. Everything is centralized and therefore fully scalable “on the fly”. A lookup of anyone in the company is done with a single mouse click. We have also implemented “presence awareness” via sametime. This works the same as yahoo IM, with various visibility options that indicate the status of other users within the domain. We are moving towards full thin-client accessibility within our environment, with minimal effort I might add, where everyone will access the notes environment via a web browser, effectively removing the notes client from consideration. COM has come a LONG way in terms of integrating notes with other applications as well. Using various member functions of the win32 platform, we now build complete PC hardware profiles from within the notes client for inventory and security purposes. By simply opening a database, we have real-time information on EVERY pc in the company, all programs loaded on it, the amount of RAM, hard drive size, processor version and speed, etc. We use this for security by matching the existing records with the real-time lookups to determine if any software or hardware has been removed from the system in question, with an agent sending notification to designated admins if a flag is raised. Our notes environment is also programmed to adjust itself to an optimal resolution based upon the current system screen resolution. We have also implemented online Employee Time Tracking within notes…allowing users to lookup their remaining vacation and holiday time, and only their information based upon their user name, in real-time, minimizing calls to HR and providing yet another seamless repository of common data.
That is just a few of the things that we are using Lotus Notes 6.5.1 for. If that is the joke of the industry, then the industry is a joke. I have spoken to people that have spent 10 times what we have spent for our entire notes environment on control applications such as great plains. We accomplish the same result with two databases, that we built.
Comment by Andrew M Young -
Very nice post Cuban, but you need your web editor to know how to correctly post your material. It shows up as if someone’s dog licked the “enter” key every other line. Very distracting to read and makes your site look unprofessional.
Fire them, hire me.
Comment by roger -
You may think that Notes should have been the “the front end to the Internet”, but the Reality is that there is no way MSFT would ever have let that happen– look at what they did to Netscape when they tried to do the same thing (albeit with an inferior product). In fact I woud argue that Netscape saved Notes, by keeping MSFT from focusing their “big guns” on Notes. And when they started to take it seriously (does anyone else remember the leaked MSFT sales memo that basically said “we have nothing that can compete with Notes, so try to keep its impact minimal in any of your customer sites”?
Comment by Danny Lawrence -
With the right approach and enough experience, you can make Notes do just about anything. Most of my Notes applications are written to be quasi-relational and a many of them use dialog boxes liberally so that the applications appear like “Windows apps”.
Whereas it’s difficult to build workflow into a SQL database system, it’s a (relative) breeze in Notes. Whereas when you buy Notes/Domino, you get the client software, e-mail, an application development environment, an administration environment, abiltiy to run on heterogeneous server environments, connections to all sorts of external data, with Microsoft, you must buy Exchange server, an application server, Visual Studio, etc. as separate products and then you MUST run it on MS server software.
Unfortunately, IBM has never been strong in marketing the product (especially on its strengths) and as a result, is suffering competition from various software makers when it should be in a clear position of leadership.
When will they learn…?
Comment by Cesar Mugnatto -
Lotus Notes a Joke? I think not. Slow? Sure — it can be — just like any other platform managed improperly with too few resources.
I’ve been a systems-level programmer for over 25 years now — I cut my teeth in various flavors of assembler and Fortran doing realtime scientific stuff and developing FAST device drivers for the flight testing world. I loved that world, but fate brought me face-to-face with Lotus Notes R4 back in 1996 and life has never been the same…
I can honestly say without reservation that Lotus Notes/Domino is amazing in many ways — a one-man shop can develop, administer and maintain an astounding number of complex applications on numerous servers by him/herself. Try that in an M$ shop!
Sure it has its drawbacks — none of which is nearly as serious as the security problems encountered in an M$ shop. Yes — I’ve been in both worlds and can say with certainty I would much rather be in a Notes/Domino shop!
I do, however, have a love/hate relationship with Notes — just as I have with Visual Basic and many versions of other languages/compilers/IDEs/Development “Systems!” Sometimes I just have to ask myself “What were they thinking?”
Bottom Line — If you can afford to hire a TON of hotshot developers, administrators and dedicated security people and can afford the huge number of servers required to pull it off, and on top of that can spend a LOT of time developing critical applications, you may get better performance with, say, a Microsoft platform. If wasting that kind of money is not your thing, go with Lotus Notes/Domino!
Unfortunately I cannot say the same for Websphere — maybe someday…
Comment by Gary Roberts -
Lotus Notes / Domino still kicks ass after all these years.
Great to hear your history… Michael Dell assembles and sells PCs in his dormv room… Mark Cuban VARs Novell and Lotus Notes.
Comment by Tony Lee -
Notes definately has its place in my heart, being an admin for a small company of 30 souls. I’ve built 20 or so notes applications that help our crew stay ahead of our multi-national 1,000+ employee competitors. We use Ntoes for everything from Sales Quotes to Service Reports, Documentation and Patch managment… Some apps are even on the web. Notes has it’s gotchas, but as far as reaping rewards for great platform design and security – nothing matches it. (Now if they just Open Source notes…)
Comment by RJB -
You just got some admirer who shares your optimistic world view with Lotus Notes/Domino!
And I know at least 120000 colleques who are using Lotus Notes/Domino too.
I don’t really care about Lotus, IBM and brands, I just support the best database system there is on the market, and currently it is Notes/Domino.
I really pity those who fanatically support some Oracle and SQL stuff, without having a look at the obsolete stand of technology they offer.
Comment by Mika Heinonen -
I can’t believe that there is more than 5 people that read this blog that actually know anything about Lotus Notes. I guess there are other geek basketball fans out there like us. Anyway, I have to agree with Rod on this one. From my personal experience and in my humble opinion, I find Notes to be slow, clunky, and very user unfriendly. It seems as if its heart is in the right place, but just a step behind on performance and useability.
Comment by EW -
I knew there was an underlying reason why you always think outside of the box:-)
Comment by Christopher Byrne -
Great stuff! My first Notes servers all ran on Banyan Vines, so thanks for working on that protocol support. Seriously, that’s a very cool story.
Comment by Rob McDonagh -
Thanks for the great blog entry Mark. I wish I had been at Lotus when you came by to “talk shop”. As for #2 Rod, interesting comments. PC Magazine ranks IBM Lotus Notes/Domino as their Editor’s Choice. Version 7 is coming out next year with DB2 integration therefore adding relation capabilities. Joke, I think not. Alan Lepofsky
Comment by Alan Lepofsky -
Yes, thanks. Ed, you can follow Rod’s link to see what planet he’s living on. (Hint: it’s in the Pacific Northwest.) Being an admin doesn’t mean he ever “got it”. Too few do.
As a current Notes developer, I owe quite a bit to people like Mark who were instrumental in getting the platform out there in the first place. To a lot of people, who expect that anything computer-related that has been around more than a year, Notes may seem a little long in the tooth. I am still amazed every day at what I am able to build quickly and easily to let people deal with what seems like too much information. It isn’t a panacea, but it is what it is and there’s nothing out there to match it yet.
Comment by Stan Rogers -
Mark, Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Funny, too, because I’m in Dallas right now for a Notes user group meeting taking place tonight (6 PM CST, Matrix Resources on LBJ Freeway). Many of those organizations where you were responsible for their success with Notes continue to leverage that investment…and will be attending tonight’s meeting.
I’m not sure what planet Rod is on, but Notes is still #1 in the e-mail/calendaring market (according to Gartner, June, 2004) and has sold over 113 million licenses. Partners such as Mark’s onetime firm were, and are, major contributors to Notes’ continued success.
–Ed Brill/Business Unit Executive, Lotus/IBM
Comment by Ed Brill -
hahahahahahaha!!!! You’ve been out of the business entirely tooooo long. Lotus Notes is the joke of the industry. If you’re using Lotus Notes for anything you’re considered a “has been” company Granted, I was Lotus Notes admin myself, at one time. But, it didn’t take long to see that IBM destroyed the application.
Comment by Rod Trent -
Definately a blast from the past… makes me feel old and all warm inside at the same time!
Comment by David -
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