Genii Weblog

A funny thing happened on the way to the pandemic

Thu 23 Apr 2020, 09:57 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
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I've been in this business a while, and seen a lot of world events translate—or not—into changes in the way people look at their business systems. From I.T.-specific events such as the dot com crash or Y2K to general events such as the Great Recession, when the world shifts on its access, it encourages people to examine their systems and fix what failed or preemptively make changes to prevent failure in a future event. Sometimes they do, and sometimes the event recedes and they don't.
The global pandemic is no different, and yet it is very different. A virus that doesn't infect computers has nonetheless forced tremendous upheaval in the computer world. The first wave of changes was almost immediate as lockdowns in country after country forced workers who could to work from home. Online meetings, video conferencing, and email/chat/etc. all found themselves used more heavily and in more ways than ever before.
But the second wave has started, and it is more widespread and deep. Every software system a company or organization uses has been pushed and pulled in ways that may not have been planned for. There are big, public examples such as the state unemployment software systems that were never built for surges such as this... and are built in COBOL. A scramble for aging developers who know COBOL is on right now, but also an awareness that these systems have chugged along and are no longer sustainable. In most states (that function well), the systems will be replaced and modernized as this crisis calms down, because the weakness is now visible.
Among my customers, both existing and new, I am seeing a growing awareness that relying on those Notes applications that keeps chugging along may have risks. Some applications are only designed for a Notes client, but workers who were never expected to work from home may not be equipped with laptops to run Notes, or are much harder to support remotely. Other apps designed to be run inside the corporate network on a Domino-based Intranet may not be secured properly for external use over less secure WiFi in homes. While some problems can be solved with VPNs and other technical solutions, closer scrutiny is leading people to examine whether to move forward or move away. Perhaps Nomad is the answer for some apps, allowing them to be run on devices that workers already have. For others, a hastily spun-up Domino interface to a Notes app may be the short term answer.
But no matter what choices are made, change is in the air. I am currently juggling migrations away from older applications with some customers and upgrades to more recent Domino versions for others. I am working with a couple of customers on whether they can use a combination of Domino Access Services,. a custom DSAPI, and Exciton to move data into a more accessible environment and still be able to keep their Domino data secure and intact. Almost every day, I hear from a new customer or an older customer with new ideas, and most are on the cusp of deciding what direction to take.
I want to be able to steer them toward Notes/Domino 11, Nomad, etc. Sometimes, I can. Part of the reason I am working so hard on Exciton is to give pathways forward for their apps where the HCL development picture is still too limited. When I can't steer them forward, I am helping them migrate off with the highest degree of accuracy, fidelity, and security possible. But they are moving for the first time in a long time. The pandemic has exposed weaknesses, and it is up to us and HCL to either help fix those weaknesses or help them move on. There is opportunity, but only if we seize it.
Be proactive. Look at your clients and see how well the software applications you know about are likely to perform in this new world. Perhaps we will "get back to normal" in a few months, but the cat is out of the bag, and systems not designed to accommodate this pandemic world will be upgraded, scrapped, or replaced with systems what are designed for it. While some applications are used every day, others may be less prominent. If you can go to your client with a proactive vision for those systems, you can win that business, and perhaps steer the solution in a direction you would like.
If you have applications that aren't passing muster in this new reality, request an evaluation of our Midas LSX with Midas Exports to get the data out, or contact me to discuss how we can assist. If you would be interested in moving forward, contact me and ask to participate in our Exciton beta. You may reach me by e-mail at 

Copyright 2020 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

1120.1. William
(04/24/2020 02:54 PM)

hello, I am currently looking at web enabling alternatives for client app for another reason. As far as a 'spun up' alternative as mentioned above what would fall into that category for a 9.x app with lots of UI and backend complexity. pages, other?

1120.2. Ben Langhinrichs
(04/24/2020 04:34 PM)

Thanks for asking. Sent you an email with some follow up questions and thoughts.