Modernizing Domino Applications

6. Dezember 2021 Posted by Gary Rowan

For over 25 years I have built, administered, and re-engineered thousands of Domino applications. We are now engaging customers and providing guidance on how to modernize these business applications, extending their investment in proven technologies, and doing so in a manner that will not break budgets. 

Why Modernize?

Modernizing applications goes hand in hand with the digital transformation happening in our world today. It provides for greater agility, mobile access, a modern user experience, and a future-ready platform. You must be thinking “how can it be possible for all of those to lead to a reduction in cost?” Not only will modernization do just that, but there is a compelling opportunity to increase the ROI and agility for your applications as well. Modernization extends the lifespan of applications while taking advantage of new technical frameworks, modern programming languages/technology stacks, and infrastructure platforms. Add in the capabilities of the cloud, and we can accomplish all of this while at the same time providing increased efficiency, agility and scalability for future enhancements to applications. And do not forget about the user experience. I have seen firsthand the value modernized applications bring by providing tools that give valuable time back so more can be done with our day. When done correctly, application modernization will take this to a whole new level by adding more flexibility, more functionality and more time for all users.

One of the most important things I have learned is that modernization does not equate to rewriting your applications from scratch. Existing applications contain valuable data, business rules, processes and back-end system integration that must in some form remain in place when deciding on your path to application modernization. These applications are investments that provide underlying cost savings and finely tuned efficiencies that are not easily measured or seen – until you try to replicate that on another platform. Unfortunately, many companies invest down the modernization path only to find it much more difficult and expensive than they initially thought. Taking advantage of what is currently in place is crucial in keeping costs down and minimizing disruptions in your journey to modernization. Having to recreate or losing mission critical features, efficiencies, and already proven application functions must be avoided.

One last, especially important item…. Mobility, Mobility, Mobility! This is at the forefront of modernization. Having the ability to use applications anywhere and from any device is crucial. This is necessary, as being able to get even the simplest tasks done anytime, anywhere, is one of if not the biggest benefit to modernization. It is difficult to rationalize or recommend any application modernization plan without it.

Modernization Expertise: What I have learned

Almost all of my customers have solicited estimates for their modernization aspirations. Some have been guided towards moving to a new platform, or re-writing and re-building apps. In every case they are shocked and dismayed at how large and expensive an effort it turns out to be — and often the effort doesn’t even replicate or improve their existing functionality. Many of these estimates include multi-year engagements where business needs will inevitably change during the modernization process. Still, many proceed down this path, often at significant expense, and only then do they become open to the value of simply modernizing their existing investment to bring it into the modern era. Along with the obvious development costs, IT leaders are tasked with taking into consideration the inevitable ongoing administration and application upkeep. Any modernization solution needs to alleviate all of this and be affordable in both short term and long term. Oh, and by the way, just to make it even more difficult, being able to connect to and integrate with disparate apps and web services from different vendors on different platforms is essential.

After thinking all of this through I asked myself, “how can we take a rapid design environment and rock-solid run-time like Notes and Domino and turn those strengths into modern, browser-based and mobile solutions for our customers?” As detailed in this previous blog entry, the economic benefits and ROI of Domino are well-documented. However, with all the tools and technologies in the market over the last few years, customers often become overwhelmed in selecting and adopting an entirely new platform, let alone having to recreate years of business logic, processes and data. What many do not realize is that when properly used, the modern Domino server already has these tools that can provide for this new modern environment.

Personally, my focus is always to provide solutions that are quick, impactful, and at the lowest cost possible. I take into consideration the impact on the users, as familiarity and processes need to be accounted for as well. Any modernization offering must enable customers to modernize in a swift, cost-effective way that provides minimal impact on users and IT staff. The main requirements of app modernization we produced were: 

  • Modern, browser-based user experience 
  • Mobile ready: access anytime, anywhere, and from any device
  • Flexible deployment (on premises or customers cloud of choice)
  • Future ready and scalable
  • Low code options to easily deploy new business functionality
  • Ability to integrate existing data
  • Ease of onboarding
  • High user acceptance, low user impact
  • Ability to integrate via APIs with other applications and web services 

Modernization: What we have built

We leveraged all those attributes and created a platform that will modernize Domino applications. That platform is called Compass. With Compass we are now able to provide a modernization path for our customers that takes advantage of existing design, and brings applications into the modern browser and mobile. And modernizing with Compass has proven to be 70%-80% less in time and cost when comparing with other platforms. Compass takes existing Domino applications and: 

  • Modernizes the UI into both web and mobile experiences (see below) 
  • Eliminates the need for the Notes client 
  • Redesigns your application layout and flow, if desired 
  • Moves the Domino environment to the cloud of your choice or on-premises 
  • Provides a rapid, low-cost modernization
  • Integrate HCL Domino Volt and HCL Volt MX applications in the Compass Workspace

Guiding your organization

App Modernization is an essential element of the digital transformation. There are so many different routes one can choose. But do not get overwhelmed. We as service providers must assist our customers in choosing what is the most cost-effective way forward with app modernization. Keeping in mind all the above, and trying to take advantage of existing processes will make this path easier to navigate. As you and your teams work through this process, I hope that sharing my experiences and insight will assist in what you can look for in taking this step in the most cost-effective way. 

Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss your environment and where I can help.