Friday, July 17, 2009

Fud Buster Friday #49 - Groupwise Beats Domino

As with many of these, this one, believe it or not is true.
Well at least the customer reference story claims it is.

Novell posted this customer reference story from Lentis, a major mental health organization in the Netherlands, on their website and at first glance it made me laugh.

Then I read it. And laughed some more.

There seemed to be a mixture of problems at Lentis which I will break down, based on this document.

1) Lentis was running Domino on an AS/400 which normally should be highly efficient and have extremely great uptime. My guess from reading this is the hardware was rather old as was the Domino and Notes clients.

2) 3,000 people is not a lot of people. Don't get me wrong, for some countries it is, but I am used to that many per server. And it only requires 1 admin to manage it. And since they were running Domino on an AS/400 most likely they only had one admin, perhaps more an AS/400 admin than a Domino one.

3) Lentis has 45 locations linked by low bandwidth, 128kb/s to 2MB/s. Naturally this could be slow for some people if they used their email on the server only instead of having it locally replicated, why they chose to use Lotus Notes and Domino this way was their own choice. Perhaps they used roaming or maybe there was an issue about storing data on local PCs or sharing of desktops. In any event, this problem will not go away because one changes software.

4) Lentis chose to use iNotes which, given they were on an old version, my guess is R5 of Lotus Notes and Domino, they found it a bit heavy on the server usage. Of course if they had been upgrading their server along the way they would have found not just performance enhancements but in the R8 stream an excellent UI that almost equals the full client functionality.

5) Lentis claimed it was costly and difficult to manage and was a time consuming process to manage and setup email accounts. Having been an Admin since R2 I can safely say that making an ID file, and a mail file for a new person takes a minute perhaps? Maybe 5 at the longest, if you include the automated mail file being built on a remote server from the admin doing the work. Sad to say but your network is only as good as your Admins. Pay your Admins well and get ones that know what they are doing, it WILL save you a lot of money, face and time in the long run.

6)Lentis also said:
Equally, Lentis felt that iNotes represented a dead-end in terms of the development of new functionality and in terms of integration with other systems.

This one had me confused. Webmail, no matter from who, doesn't "integrate" to anything. We could write the connector so the mailto function calls up webmail if that is what they wanted. Lack of imagination or initiative on your part does not mean everyone has the same closed view. There is help, Business Partners are here for you. I'm here for you.

7) Lentis continues on:
We are now hosting four different internal mail domains; such an expansion would have been extremely difficult to manage in the past.

Not sure what is difficult here. One Admin, one client, N possibilities of domains and files, there is no problem in adding or merging more organizations. It takes planning ahead to ensure some logic exists, but there is no more difficulty in managing 1 or 1,000 domains. lack of Knowledge is a horrible thing to have, especially if you are an IT person.

8) Lastly, this nugget:

Another benefit of choosing Novell GroupWise over Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange was the ease of serving mobile users.

They then explain how they have 2 new servers just to handle their mobile executives and will be going to get a "PDA" solution. Domino, with Lotus Notes Traveler or a BES was always available to Lentis, if they asked. The mobile users share one template now and can live together well, but depending on the number of users one may want separate servers.

A sad loss for IBM on both hardware and software fronts but the bottom line is bad infrastructure is a by-product of your hiring practices, not anyone's product, usually.


  1. "We are now hosting four different internal mail domains; such an expansion would have been extremely difficult to manage in the past."

    Difficult to manage? We have almost 100 domains that we host on Domino, it's as simple as adding an entry in the Conversions section of our Domain document.

  2. Groupwise, like most of the Novell stuff is actually a pretty good product. What is the Novell/Groupwise market share these days? Try and find an Admin for that! They are no longer even mentioned in most studies. And they're worried about integration difficulties and dead-ends? This appears to be another management decision that was based on personal preferences or relationships instead of facts.

  3. I agree with both of you. This was just a bad situation that wasn't resolved.
    Some organizations never lead and in this case evidently also don't follow the leaders.
    Just sad.

  4. Wow - even I can tell that's rubbish. I'm not an IT guy but 2 years ago I was running Notes for 4 offices - 3 in Scotland (100 miles apart) and 1 in Wales (400 miles?). I was using Notes / Domino 6.5 and we had about 8 domains. I'm sorry but if I can do it then someone who claims to be an IT Administrator can do it. I won't claim it was problem free but most of my problems were caused by 3rd party hosted offices not Domino itself.

    You missed a couple Keith

    "benefit in Novell Groupwise and other Open Technologies" - is Groupwise an Open Technology? (I genuinely don't know but suspect it isn't)and the one that I really don't understand (like I say I'm not an IT bod) "Choosing Linux also enabled us to remove proprietary hardware" - what?? I have had Domino 6.5 running on Linux and a Dell Server that cost me £99 (say $160 at today's exchange rate). What has proprietary hardware got to do with anything? Presumably if you have your maintenance contract (and I suspect that this may be the issue here) then you just change over to the version of Domino that utilises whatever OS you use (or is that not how the maintenance works?).

  5. I decided the proprietary line was obvious, although some versions of my post had it I decided to let it go. Hardware is as you point out not an issue. And they probably should have reviewed other hardware options, since that seemed to really be the issue.

  6. Horrible...but I had heard recently that West Lothian College (in Livingston, Scotland) did the same...but this time against the protestations of the rank and file IT crowd.

    Sometimes the people who know, are not included in the loop!

  7. I have seen that although on paper Domino is the answer, miraculously a change in course steers it away.
    If we could find that person first we would be better off. But you can't always find them until it's too late.