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02/15/2013

So if you're a "Notes person", what would you want to know about SharePoint?

Category IBM Notes Domino SharePoint
It seems like every Notes/Domino/Lotus/IBM person has an opinion about Microsoft SharePoint. Unfortunately, most of the opinions that I run across are based on the ingrained (and incorrect) notion that Microsoft is evil, IBM Notes/Domino is on the side of the angels, and SharePoint sucks.

The reality of the situation is that SharePoint is alive and well in businesses worldwide, you don't build a billion+ dollar business based on smoke and mirrors, and at some point you're probably going to come face-to-face with having to either interface with SharePoint at a customer (or your organization), or actually migrate off your beloved Notes/Domino platform to something else (usually (and again incorrectly) assumed to be SharePoint).

Welcome to my world since 2009. I work at a company who started using Notes in 1995 and built a substantial portfolio of critical and valuable business applications on that platform. Like many other organizations, the decision was made to move away from Notes/Domino for mail and applications, and move to "something else". In the case of mail, it was Exchange and Outlook. In terms of applications, there's a variety of options.

I used to deride migration companies when they said that 65% of Notes applications in an organization are not used. I "knew better" in my company, and we were nowhere near that... until we ran an analysis and found that 65% unused/abandoned Notes databases wasn't that far off the mark. In terms of migrating, the key phrase is "off of Notes". Most people assume (and migration companies reinforce) that migration means "to SharePoint."  In reality, it means just what it says... "off Notes". If it's an old application that hasn't been used, that may mean you obsolete or archive the application (I have recommendations on that process if you're interested).  If you run Remedy, that might be a valid option for some of your retiring Notes apps. Same with Salesforce.com or a myriad of other platforms. Bottom line, the business wants to just shut off Notes. If SharePoint takes over that role, great. Salesforce.com? Rock on... Remedy? Start coding... It doesn't matter... Business just wants to shut off servers, quit spending maintenance dollars, reduce risk, and lower the overall IT cost of ownership.

Having said all that, I want to start a thread here to find out what types of questions my Notes/Domino colleagues have about SharePoint that they hesitate to ask about in "mixed company". No, I'm far from a SharePoint guru, but I have no problems telling you my opinions, thoughts, or "I don't know" based on the last four years of straddling the fence. I've told myself over the last two years that I want to start a series of "SharePoint for the Notes/Domino Professional" blog posts, but I always have something else to do that keeps me from starting it. But I had another person ask on Twitter today what I would recommend for learning resources for picking up SharePoint skills.

Fine... I get the hint, universe... step into this niche that's being dangled before you. Do what you've always done... share what you know, and make yourself available.

So, the comments are open. What are your questions about learning/dealing with SharePoint in your Notes/Domino world? Feel free to fake names and addresses. I don't need to know who you are and where you are coming from. I just want to spend my time answering questions that are being asked, not ones that I imagine people might have.

THE MAIN GROUND RULE (and it's my blog, my rules, and I will be painfully ruthless and unapologetic about this...)

This will *not* (I repeat... *not*) become a thread for defending why Notes is better than SharePoint or SharePoint is better than Notes. They both have pros and cons. If you step outside whatever evangelical or cloistered world you're in, you're in for a rude shock... Neither side is evil or righteous. In the end, it's technology and business. You may like and prefer one over the other. That's fine. But in this thread, that argument will not be allowed. This is to deal with real-world questions about real-world issues that affect real-world paychecks of people you've known and worked with for years. I will delete without hesitation. warning, or apology anything that even hints of "x is better than y" in this thread. This is strictly "what would I like to know if I could ask any question of a SharePoint person who knows Notes, and who won't judge or out me to my colleagues who think I completely and totally bleed yellow". I may have to summarize a number of questions under "I don't know". But the best way to learn something (as in me) is to figure out how to teach it to someone else (that's you).

And in parting... if you think I'm being overly dramatic about people not wanting to let others know they're looking at SharePoint, think again. Because of who I am and the openness I've displayed during my 17+ years in this community, people are very open about reaching out to me in private to ask questions that they wouldn't dream of asking anyone else (and not just tech. :) ).  I've held confidences, given honest answers, and helped people decide directions both on a personal and professional level. I don't take that responsibility and privilege lightly, and I understand the personal angst that it can cause. Been there, done that. But once you remove the peer pressure and look at things from a non-"evangelical" perspective, there are some interesting conclusions you come to. Yes, the IBM/Lotus community is *very* special. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have been so shredded and ripped up inside over the last two weeks of IBM Connect-o-sphere 2013. Most of you will never know the personal hell I've felt over what I felt was a "goodbye" (in terms of real-life face-to-face contact) to many who  have been my family and shaped who I am (at the absolute core of my being) during that time... my last blog entry, while open, honest, and painfully and brutally blunt,  still doesn't communicate everything behind it. But with distance comes perspective, and once you see the "rock star"/insider group of people in other communities (like SharePoint), you realize that the same sense of community and passion is not completely unique to IBM/Lotus. Yes, you have to work to get back to that same level of comfort that you enjoy now (but that took you xx years to get to and you've forgotten the pain and awkwardness that it took to get here). Welcome to what newcomers in the Notes community feel when they look at you/us. Don't minimize what the IBM community is... it's incredibly special. But don't be blinded to the fact that you can have that same sense of community regardless of the vendor name attached to what you're doing. Bottom line... it's the people. You know that, and you've said that. Now you have to realize what that really means when you carry it to its logical conclusions and implications. It's not comfortable, is it?

And with that late-night and somewhat Glenfiddich-inspired (and I'd like to think uniquely Duffbert-esque) opening, the comments are open.

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Thomas "Duffbert" Duff

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