Articles

Blog

Ask the Expert: Ben Menesi

Ytria’s Ben Menesi talks on IBM Notes, Domino, GDPR and more

Ben Menesi

Are you currently involved in any activities related to GDPR? What are your key concerns regarding GDPR and Domino data?

BM: Great question! I had the chance to dive into the GDPR and what it means for Domino when I was preparing for a recent Ytria webinar where we offered strategies for our customer base (500+ companies across 45 countries) to take the necessary steps to become compliant.

The whole subject is gigantic, but here’s what I would highlight:

The good: Domino is extremely secure. The last serious public exploit came out over 6 years ago, and none of the recent, high-profile breaches involved Domino as a data container—that means, consequently, that personal data stored in Domino NSFs is also secure.

The bad: Domino lacks the native e-discovery and enterprise domain search capabilities required to easily comply with DSRs (Data Subject Requests). While there are ISVs with solutions to help, making Notes applications easily searchable is tricky due to their data structure flexibility: a price we pay for being NoSQL. I’m really hoping the IBM/HCL team will address this area in the upcoming Domino v10 release.

The Notes client – pros & cons?

BM: Just like most of the users we talk to, I personally also love the Notes client. However, I do believe that the ability to better mobilize/webify Notes application data, as well as make that data available via various APIs, is vital. That’s why I’m so excited about the Node integration capabilities coming in Domino v10: with Node being one of the most popular development environments out there, this addition will bring a whole new generation of developers to the Domino ecosystem.

Because the majority of Domino users are most familiar with the full Notes client, I believe a lighter, more modern looking mail client would also be a welcome new development.

“After half a year and USD $1,5M burnt, the solution still didn’t work as it was supposed to. So, they built it using Notes in 1.5 weeks, and for only $10,000. Those are the kinds of stories that, to me, show the core power of this product.”

IBM/HCL team’s intention is to “go back to the genesis of the product” How do you interpret this intention? What are your expectations?

BM: I love that mission statement! In fact, when I quoted that sentence during the V10 preview call on Twitter, the activity around it was incredible :)

My view is that going back to the “genesis/core” of the product means building and marketing it as a secure, powerful, and unparalleled NoSQL application platform, with RAD (Rapid Application Development) being one of its greatest qualities.

While I’m sure everyone in the ICS space has heard stories like this, here’s one I’d like to share: a Ytria ambassador, who’s also a developer, told us that his company needed to build a solution to connect to a 3rd-party HR software tool and pull in and process some data for HR purposes. The company decided not to pursue a solution in Notes—although they are a huge Domino shop—and tasked a vendor to create the solution in .Net. After half a year and USD $1,5M burnt, the solution still didn’t work as it was supposed to. So, they built it using Notes in 1.5 weeks, and for only $10,000. Those are the kinds of stories that, to me, show the core power of this product.

“We are used to coding 10-15 stage workflows within a few days using Notes, and these complex solutions can easily take 10x the amount of time and resources in other platforms.”

What are the key challenges in a typical Notes/Domino modernization or migration project? Do you think that preservation of existing Notes content is properly addressed?

BM: I don’t believe that the main challenges lie in actual design elements or their look and feel because each platform will use a different interface to take input and manage data. Having said that, I find other platforms really lack the ability of Notes views to display and search through hundreds of thousands of documents without breaking a sweat. You don’t have that kind of power if you work with SharePoint views, for example.

My experience is that although sometimes tricky, the greatest challenge isn’t migrating the data itself, especially with solutions like SWING Software’s archiving solutions to help. The challenge, in my opinion, lies in replicating business processes that we are used to in Domino. We are used to coding 10-15 stage workflows within a few days using Notes, and these complex solutions can easily take 10x the amount of time and resources in other platforms.

 

The Expert Profile

As Head of Products at Ytria, Ben Menesi oversees the strategic direction of product development for Ytria’s IBM and Microsoft product lines. Ben is a regular speaker at industry conferences from IBM Connect to Engage UG, MWLUG/CollabSphere to Microsoft’s SharePoint Saturdays worldwide. His acclaimed presentations cover topics such as Domino and Microsoft administration & enterprise security, and he has been named IBM Champion for collaboration for the past 5 consecutive years.