Old meets new: Lotus Domino and Atlassian

Old meets new: Lotus Domino and Atlassian

Summary: A couple of weeks ago, I caught the end of a presentation by Alek Lotoczko who runs the intranet for NYK Logistics & Megacarrier. Earlier this week, I called Alek to get more detail.

TOPICS: IBM, Open Source

A couple of weeks ago, I caught the end of a presentation by Alek Lotoczko who runs the intranet for NYK Logistics & Megacarrier. Earlier this week, I called Alek to get more detail. As background, NYK is one of the world's biggest shipping companies but when Alek reviewed use of the Domino intranet, he was dismayed to find that from a high of some 250 contributors, the number had dwindled to around 50. With no budget to improve things, Alek cast around for an open source solution. He discovered Ben Poole's OpenNTF DominoWiki. I was skeptical about this because my experience is that anything connected with Domino is tough work. Not so according to Alek who said in conversation with me:

You're right that developing in Domino can be hard work but DominoWiki was something of a revelation. Ben Poole has done a terrific job making this simple. It was really easy to implement and intuitive right from the get go.

That was in January, 2007. By June, still with no budget and little more than word of mouth, intranet wiki contributors had climbed to 117. At that point, Alek found the company's corporate communications staff were also looking at wiki. Working with and learning from the comms staff, Alek ran a comparison between Atlassian and SocialText's offering. He selected Atlassian on the basis it represented superior value for money even though it didn't score quite so highly on functionality. Drawing upon proof of concept success Alek was able to secure funding:

When you kick off a project with zero funding, it is very easy to achieve ROI. That's one of the hidden beauties of working with open source. So when we wanted to take the project to the next level, it was surprisingly easy to get buy in and spend commitment.

Today, Alek is implementing and rolling out the Atlassian system which will be 'pumped' by data from the Domino intranet. The Domino system isn't going away because that's NYK's corporate comms standard. Instead, it is being used to prime the wiki project which Alek hopes will eventually reach about 2,500 employees. Since the projected numbers have grown - the initial license was for 250 users - NYK is bringing Atlassian in-house rather than continuing with the hosted option.

This story is fascinating at a number of levels:

  • Current project success was driven by tools that deliver immediate user value
  • Open source can open the door to commercial solutions
  • Cross functional cooperation between IT and comms staff are ensuring the project takes off
  • There is no requirement to ditch incumbent applications that continue to deliver value
  • There is no formal IT involvement because budget considerations are relatively small and IT impact is low
  • NYK is identifying numerous opportunities to proliferate and re-use information across the business, breaking down data silos while finding new ways to collaborate.
  • Implementation and rollout will require traditional consulting activity. Although it is an 'under the radar' project, the Atlassian/Domino implementation doesn't dispense with the need for traditional consulting support

In the rush to embrace all things Web 2.0, we run the risk of throwing babies out with the bathwater. In this case we are seeing how existing technologies can happily co-exist. I'll be following this one with interest.

Topics: IBM, Open Source

Dennis Howlett

About Dennis Howlett

Dennis Howlett is a 40 year veteran in enterprise IT, working with companies large and small across many industries. He endeavors to inform buyers in a no-nonsense manner and spares no vendor that comes under his microscope.

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  • Adoption and implementation

    Although wikis can replace shared drives [who likes them?] and reduce email, wikis are not about replacing enterprise apps with important datasets. The question is: can I get at that data from the wiki, or can I integrate somehow?

    I agree with your last point on consulting sometimes being useful. In as much as the 2.0 mantra can be everything is easy to use, there is a strikingly large hotbed of social software-oriented consultants in London who know how to help larger companies such as NYK. I don't understand why there are comparatively few in the US? Is this cultural?
    • Replacement

      Intranets were often a replacement for shared drives and they are supposed to reduce email traffic. Stories about enterprises replacing their entire intranet with a wiki are not uncommon (though I would recomend useing a wiki to complement the intranet). Intranets and wikis are both content management systems/document repositories but wikis have many inherent qualities that mean they can often succeed (adoption-wise) where intranets fail. I would argue then that wikis can be about replacing this type of enterprise app.
  • best of breed

    I had bookmarked your article a couple days ago, just rereading. Your bulleted conclusions are spot on. This also demonstrates a "best of breed" approach. One year vendors are saying to buy the all-in-one package, the next they're pushing for best of breed. Guess it depends on what they're selling that year. Companies are interested in using the best technologies available to them, whether that's open source, commercial, or a combination. Your article is a great example of that in practice.
  • Integration with Domino


    If you're using Lotus and Domino I'd be very interested in which way you have integrated both products.
    What do you take form Domino and how ... That would be very interesting since my company use the same combination.

    • We are doing, but moving on

      We were using Atlassian and Domino at the same time, although, we never got around to heavily integrating the two, we couldn't find the cost benefit.

      We are now abandoning Atlassian's products for the Lotus QUICKR platform. The platform's heavy out of the box integration with Lotus Notes, Windows Explorer and MS Office in conjunction with its rich web interface made it a compelling choice and kept us from having to manage our own integration development. Since it's licensed "per user" you can scale the backend from a single server to as many servers as you choose without incurring additional license fees.

      We are really enjoying the results and IBM has showed great interest in our feedback for future versions of the product.

      Please feel free to reach out if you would like to hear more about our experience...

      Check out the product here - http://www-306.ibm.com/software/lotus/products/quickr/