ALM Practices for Notes and Domino

If your organization has been using IBM Notes and Domino for ten years or longer, you’ve probably implemented many applications based on this platform.

As a result, your Domino servers are likely home to dozens or hundreds of applications, all differing in their usage, complexity, value, and stage in the application lifecycle. To support ongoing modernization and migration efforts, IT professionals must take control of the entire Lotus Notes application portfolio and implement consistent application lifecycle management (ALM) practices.

ALM practices are often neglected when it comes to low-code platforms. IBM Notes used to be such a platform, especially in its early days. Classic Lotus Notes applications had a tendency to creep up under the radar, and in any corner of the organization. They were built as handy prototypes with just a handful of forms, views, and formulas, and then quickly promoted into indispensable assets, to be used and maintained for years. But times are changing.

Nowadays, most organizations are generally aware of ALM practices, regardless of the application platform. One of these practices is application rationalization. According to a recent whitepaper by KPMG, more than 67 percent of survey respondents indicated that their organizations were focusing on consolidating or rationalizing their application portfolios.

In the same whitepaper, KPMG points out that these rationalization efforts often fail:

Unfortunately and despite its importance, some of these initiatives end up as “paper exercises”, where the retired applications are later found still running, if only for read-only purposes. From a business perspective, the value of these applications rapidly decreases and their operational risks increase as they enter the “obsolescence phase”.

Rather than allow the proliferation of legacy applications that no longer add business value—but are still adding costs and risks—KPMG proposes companies take a proactive approach. They suggest that every application’s entire lifecycle should be planned from day one. In this way, all decisions are based on agreed criteria, and ALM turns into a powerful decision-support process.

Going back to the Lotus Notes Domino applications, a growing number of organizations today are finding that they have already reached the point where they can no longer ignore the numerous legacy applications lying about and need to retire them in a proper manner.

Identifying such applications is the first step toward a cleaner house. The following matrix illustrates a simple ALM blueprint of application categories that are candidates for retirement:

Normally, we can apply the proposed process to all kinds of applications, including those based on Notes and Domino.

Here are the five phases of the application retirement process:

  • Portfolio validation
  • Initial retirement planning
  • Legacy cost analysis
  • Archiving strategy definition
  • Detailed planning and execution

In the portfolio validation phase, you need to capture an up-to-date view of the application landscape. You can accelerate this phase by using screening and analysis tools.

In the archiving strategy definition phase, you set criteria for a viable archiving solution. Your requirements may include a specific data format (open or proprietary), expected retention periods, costs, usability, and so on.

For forms-based applications—and classic Notes applications are a perfect example—it is essential to preserve content in its original form, together with all metadata.

Seascape for Notes is a modern archiving tool specifically built for IBM Notes/Domino. Thanks to open standards, Seascape produces a complete archive available for years and decades to come: it saves your views, documents, rendering, hierarchies, links, and files.

Not only does such an archiving tool help in application retirement, it can also aid in the following processes:

  • Off-loading inactive data from databases that are still in use, for performance gains.
  • Preserving all historical data before the migration process, so you can migrate only the data that will be actively used.
  • Accelerating application modernization, by freeing developers from taking care of old application architecture, including the underlying data structure. The archiving tool takes care that all Lotus Notes data is saved in a meaningful way outside of Notes and Domino.

With proper methods and tools in place, ALM practices bring control back into the CIO’s hands, with even complex application portfolios being optimized and managed in a more predictable way.

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