Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Admins XPages

Tim wondered on Greg's blog post why we, that is Admins, do not extol the virtues of XPages in order to promote the long term viability of Domino infrastructures.

It is an interesting question. One which I do not have a good answer. Maybe because in many cases infrastructures get tweaked based on what we find in the wild. We don't build an infrastructure and then ask the developers to build an app for it, we build the infrastructure usually for or after an app is in place or required and tweak it at that point.

Many times we Admins are reactive, trouble hits and we spring into action. When life is calm we plan the future and tweak this or that along the way. Many times tweaking happens at the point of upgrades, migrations, changes in hardware in addition to new installations.

The job of an Admin does not always involve having a seat at the table when platforms and infrastructure decisions are made. We love having it but it's not always that way unfortunately.

If we always were part of that discussion, no doubt more companies would be expanding their usage. This is not to say Developers are in a better position but if a company has Domino Developers, good for them and hopefully they are doing their best to step up and push more apps to be built.The days of just coding for Notes clients must end of course because, well, the Notes client doesn't run on a phone.

But Lotus Notes Traveler with XPages support could change many things in the world. Mobile apps are the problem, mail is a given but how do you get to your apps? As Ed expounded, the Domino 8.5.3 Upgrade Pack 1 brings XPages magic to some core templates and provides more options for the developers to push out apps. I am not a developer and trust our friends that are will expound further on this topic in ways I  could never do it justice.

Admins? Get those new templates out there and start pushing your mobile mantra. You can help the push of XPages but you first have to install 853UP1. While you are doing, start tweaking, get your ODS upgraded, make sure DAOS is properly configured, check that swap space, change your web cache or tweak your memory settings for the larger RAM in the server.

And if you have something good for other Admins, post it so everyone gets the benefit as well.


  1. Just to clarify, my question wasn't as much about admins' capacity to evangelize the power of XPages as it was about their level of knowledge - and willingness to share it - regarding how to support applications vs. how to support mail.

    It seems that many admins have come up to speed fairly rapidly on best practices for configuring Traveler. Similarly, many admins know precisely how to configure a Domino server to make sure mail routing is efficient, that the server has the right number of mailboxes for its anticipated volume of incoming SMTP traffic, how many mail users to support per server, and so on. Conversely, there seems to be less publicly shared knowledge specific to configuring a Domino server based on what apps it contains and what those apps are designed to do.

    Suppose we have a shared customer, and I send you three applications to deploy. App 1 is a vacation approval app, so it has low user concurrency, because users only access it when requesting or approving vacation time. App 2 contains a single extremely complex form, and has a high concurrent user volume. App 3 is only used by executive management, and consists of only a single dashboard page, but this page displays live charts that update every three seconds showing real-time operations status.

    Should those applications all live on the same server? What hardware is appropriate? Prior to deployment, have you verified that the persistence mode setting for each is appropriate to what the app does, and for whom?

    Or do you just put all of the apps on whatever Domino server the customer has, because all apps are pretty much the same, and all app servers are pretty much the same? In my experience, this tends to be the approach and attitude. The fact that Domino can so frequently handle this agnosticism is a testament to its strengths as a platform... but imagine how much better end users' experience would be - and how aware corporate decision makers would be of why Domino should be considered a strategic platform, if it isn't already - if more admins could answer the above questions as intuitively as they can when asked how best to configure a mail server.

  2. Tim, You bring up a point which is important as well. All apps are not equal, yet who has multiple servers? In this age of VMs it is easier to have more, but paying for each one, especially to a smaller company gets expensive licensing.
    Yes there are some way to handle this and ISV pricing and some other IBM ways but the idea of a slow server or a fast server may not make sense to all but the yellowverse.
    Agreed in a perfect world you could have a server for each app but that is not a battle the average admin wants to have I think. I have seen many times admins and developers undersell Notes and Domino by saying it's cheaper, we own it already, just upgrade this no capital costs and on and on.
    I like to think we can and do show Domino in a better light but usually, in the past, it was just added to another server, just another app.
    If Ideajam was going in they would have an instance of running Domino just for them, but when an app is built internally it rarely gets that luxury of being told what to do by the creator.
    No excuses you are correct and all we can do is try to teach others.