Why users hate Lotus Notes, Episode 2: The administrative inhibitions

Mat Newman  October 12 2011 09:24:00
FACT: IBM Lotus Domino IS more efficient at storing data than Microsoft Exchange.

I recently did a migration for a small business of 4 users (note IBM - that IS a small business!) that began with 11gb of data in their SBS/Exchange data store.  After migrating to Domino, the total size of the Domino mail databases was 9.2gb.  For the math inclined, that's a 16% saving in disk space.  And then I enabled DAOS. After running compact on the mail databases, the mail files and DAOS storage totalled 5.6gb.  Again for the math inclined, that is a 49% disk saving by switching to Notes/Domino from Exchange.

What has storage got to do with users?

This twitter post says it all really:

   Since I've #gonegoogle from Lotus Notes and VPN and 100MB size limit, everybody in the 2000+ company is :-)

Or from a users perspective:

   Outlook is SO much better than Lotus, no more sucky 100meg restriction!

Users DO NOT care WHY they have a mail quota, or why they can't send an email that contains a 5mb attachment.  A quote from TWiL 72 is relevant here (paraphrased): "The computer on the users desk at work is no longer the most powerful machine they use".  The same goes for the messaging infrastructure users deal with.  Users no longer use email only at work.  Users have a plethora of options available to them - especially in the personal space - none of which have a 100 megabyte limit on their storage, or a restriction of 5 megabytes on the size of attachments they can send.

What they DO see, is a Lotus Notes client that fails to send a 6mb attachment, or that bugs them every two seconds because they've exceeded their 100mb quota.

This is - of course - nothing to do with the capabilities of Lotus Notes.  I have a number of clients who carry around multi-gigabyte mail database replica's with them.  One client has a 13 gigabyte "active" mail database, which has auto-archiving enabled for everything older than 9 months.

From their perspective, users who complain that Lotus Notes's "sucks" due to the limit's imposed upon them ARE complaining about the Lotus Notes client.  They do not differentiate that it's the restrictions placed upon them by their IT department that are actually the root of the problem.

The first quote above would indicate that the storage available to that company for messaging was restricted to only 200 gigabytes.  That may have been justified 10 years ago when the company implemented Notes/Domino 6 and 200 gigabytes was a big deal, but today I can spend less than a hundred bucks and get a pocket drive with the same capacity.

Similarly for attachments.  Surely your internet pipe is no longer the 1mb link that you implemented 10 years ago (unless you're in Timor-Leste!) and a 6mb data transfer is no longer a significant concern.

If you ARE worried about large attachments leaving your organisation, check out the EXCELLENT FileSendR utility by Declan Lynch on OpenNTF.  You could also implement Notes/Domino 8.5.3 and take advantage of the amazing Connections Files entitlement now available to you.

Your users are not really complaining about Lotus Notes.

Users believe that Lotus Notes is the problem because it has pathetic storage restrictions, and is incapable of sending attachments of any significant size.

You and I know different.  

It's time to review the restrictions you are placing on your users.

Preferably before the new CEO arrives and demands you give them Outlook, since the CEO had Outlook at their last post and knows that Outlook doesn't have a stupid 100 megabyte limit.

Perception is everything.

It's time to review the administrative inhibitions.

1Eric Mack  10/12/2011 14:04:59  
Why users hate Lotus Notes, Episode 2: The administrative inhibitions

Excellent post, Mat.

Just today a customer told me his Notes admin said he could not use our because he "wasn't sure it would work with Lotus Notes." I asked the customer if his Admin had any specific concerns. No. None. He just didn't want to be bothered. No doubt that user left with the impression that Notes can't run 3rd party apps when that's not the case at all. Just a lazy admin.

Indeed, it's time for admins to remember the role of IT in the organization. It's possible to simultaneously deliver excellent service and protect the customer and please the users. First step is to sit in the user's chair for a while and understand how they work and how they would like to work.

2Mat Newman

10/12/2011 16:53:13  Why users hate Lotus Notes, Episode 2: The administrative inhibitions

@1, Eric: Thanks mate. Sad but true that this story can so oft be repeated.

Mat Newman IBM Champion

3rikkon  10/12/2011 17:29:14  
Why users hate Lotus Notes, Episode 2: The administrative inhibitions

Hear, hear! Very wise words indeed, my friend.

4Keith Brooks  10/13/2011 4:59:44  
Why users hate Lotus Notes, Episode 2: The administrative inhibitions


One of my clients is a split personality. The Exchange side weekly has trouble shoving out some huge attachments. The problem is a mixture of poor admin skills, small pipes and um, not trained users.

The Domino side in contrast never has such delays with a similar everything, except admin and using Domino. While we limit outbound attachments size to 25MB the users know to send a link for outside parties and internally as well.

Bad admins are the death of products. Good admins also do things to drive users crazy but a happy balance should be found when possible.

As to DAOS, Darren and I had posted at one time a number of DAOS gains we saw early on and it is as much as 75% in some companies because of all the passing around.

The disk space is not the issue though. The lack of buy-in, or sheer ignorance, from IT or the admins/devs is the issue. We can not change that because they do not read ours or anyone else's blogs! When I ask around that is what i hear from almost every client site.

How to encourage them to follow us, versus the official pages is interesting. Growing up in IT, I never cared where the answer came from as long as it worked and did not compromise security/data. We need to help IT care again.

See this list: { Link }

and I have done half of them.

5Mat Newman

10/13/2011 10:56:43  Why users hate Lotus Notes, Episode 2: The administrative inhibitions

@3, rikkon: Thanks. Would be great if this generated some action items in a number of organisations.

@4, Keith: GREAT quote mate: Bad admins are the death of products. So too are poorly trained users. DAOS is one of those features you would imagine everyone would be scrambling to upgrade so they can implement it, and since it's 11 clicks why wouldn't you? Expecially if you get back a great hunk 'o' disk, that you could then use to up poor user's quotas.

Mat Newman IBM Champion

6Chris Hudson  10/14/2011 13:37:47  
Why users hate Lotus Notes, Episode 2: The administrative inhibitions

We have no restrictions on mail file sizes and never have. We regularly get mail files up in multi GB range... mine is currently 5GB and the largest one I can see at a quick glance is 20GB. [And we do run DAOS, so that 20GB file in reality is only 460MB]

We also full text index mail files by default, another area that admins tend to let their users down.

Disk is cheap and I see no reason whatsoever why mail quotas need to be in place at such a low level.

As for trained admins, the biggest problem we are finding in Canberra is available course to send our admins on. We regularly have to send them to either Sydney or Melboune to do training. Any training that actually might get scheduled for Canberra often gets cancelled due to lack of numbers.

Mat Newman

THE Lotus Notes Guy. Productivity Guru. Social Evangelist. IBM Champion for IBM Collaboration Solutions, 2011/2012/2013. IBMer. Views are my own.

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