Falling Into Place

On the AS/400, IBM’s Domino theory is paying off.

Two years ago, IBM announced native support for Lotus Domino on the AS/400. Just over a year later, as a result of the product’s remarkable early success on the platform, Rochester released the AS/400e Dedicated Server for Domino specifically configured for Domino-only use.

Since the announcement of native support in May 1998 and the subsequent introduction of the Dedicated Server for Domino (DSD), AS/400 has charged ahead to become the second most popular platform for Domino. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that, according to IBM, 25 percent to 30 percent of those implementing Domino for AS/400 are doing so on their first AS/400 server.

In an effort to explain the rapid adoption and success of Domino among AS/400 users, especially those new to the platform, MIDRANGE Systems went to two IBMers so familiar with—and excited about—Domino on AS/400 that they sometimes jump in to finish each other’s sentences. Kelly Schmotzer, worldwide marketing manager for Domino on AS/400, and George Gaylord, marketing consultant, are veterans of IBM’s AS/400 Domino marketing team, but might be better described as the product’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders (and users).

In the following interview, Schmotzer and Gaylord excitedly expound on where AS/400 Domino is and where it’s headed, why so many customers have adopted the product, and, if you’re not already one of them, why they think you should be.

MRS: How do you account for the rapid pace at which non-AS/400 users have adopted DSD, as well as Domino on regular AS/400 servers?

KS: The number one reason that we are seeing is reliability. And total cost of ownership—those two kind of go hand-in-hand. When customers put Domino on non-AS/400s—and I have to say mostly Intel, because this is where the majority of them were—here’s what customers have been driven to do because of reliability. They buy a Domino server for mail on an Intel server. Then they have operating system problems, because the mail server goes down. And it will—a PC is a PC. So they put another server on for 500 users, and they put 500 users on their first server. So now they have two mail servers. Well let’s say they wanted to add maybe an application, a sales force automation application. Instead of putting it on their mail server, knowing that if a mail server were to crash, it would also crash their sales force application, they would buy another server, so now they have three. So then they’d say, “Well, wow, I really need a backup server.” Then they’d have four.

This is for a small customer. Well, you go into the Abbott Labs and the R.R. Donnellys and these big companies, and you end up seeing 20 and 30 and 40 and they just proliferate like crazy, because the more users, the more applications, the more you have to have redundant servers to make them reliable, because the operating system cannot handle as many applications.

So what happens is they realize the value of AS/400 because of our amazing subsystem technology. You can segregate applications in a partition on a subsystem, separated and protected from all other applications, and put three, four, five, six, 10 applications or subsystems or partitions running different instances of Domino. You can consolidate a heck of a lot of servers onto one AS/400. ...On the AS/400, you’re managing one server, you’re loading one license of Domino, you’re backing up one system, you can manage it with one human, and that’s where the TCO comes in.

GG: I think what we offer for our new customers that haven’t picked a server yet, or even Unix customers that have essentially moved over or extended into an AS/400, is the traditional value of an AS/400, in that we have an integrated operating system that really has all the tools and bells and whistles that you need. And the real value proposition for them is manageability, the fact that AS/400 is tested with all the features and functions it needs for Domino. The security’s there, the database is there, the graphical interfaces for managing the system is there, the backup stuff is there. You’re not buying pieces and parts.

MRS: Why is AS/400 in general, and DSD specifically, particularly well suited for Domino operations?

GG: TCO is the overriding umbrella reason. And what we have that contributes to that is a couple of key points. One of them is viability of the base hardware and operating system. Number two is, because it’s reliable, and because we have an architecture that Domino can really exploit, we have the ability to run multiple Domino workloads, or even Domino plus other workloads on a single server. When you can run multiple workloads, you can take advantage of the shared resources of memory and disk and CPU that are underneath the covers.

AS/400 is the platform that is most widely exploiting the use of the enterprise server, mainly because of partitioning
Think about a big Domino implementation that’s using mail plus maybe an application like sales force. In the morning, what does everybody do? They come in and they read their mail, right? So you have this huge peak of mail workload, in the morning, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. maybe. If you’re on segregated servers, the rest of the day that mail server might sit idle and you have resources that are tied up doing that. If they’re on the same server, all that resource can be shared and shipped to another workload, like extranet serving, etc. So shared resources, combined with the reliability and the architecture of the 400, all that delivers to total cost of ownership. And I attribute that, frankly, to the bulletproof and enterprise nature of OS/400. It wasn’t designed as a workstation operating system. It wasn’t designed to do anything except mission-critical business applications for customers. And guess what, that’s what people use Domino for.

MRS: And, the ability to run multiple workloads, the level of integration, that capability is absent from your competitor’s products?

GG: Let’s talk about technical and then let’s talk about reality. I would submit to you if you look out in the marketplace, AS/400 is the platform that is most widely exploiting the use of the enterprise server, mainly because of partitioning. (Domino) Enterprise Server provides a couple of things: one is partitioning, the other is clustering—failover for two Domino servers. And what we would tell you is a lot of the enterprise servers in other platforms would be bought for clustering, to provide a failover for NT environments. The AS/400 is bought for partitioning. If you’re running multiple Domino servers on an AS/400, if one of them takes a panic and goes down, this process takes it down controlled and brings it back up, with no operator intervention. In Rochester we found that this reduced our unplanned outages of Domino—not of a hardware crash or anything like that, but of Domino—by 70 to 80 percent.

KS: And people ask us, “Well, doesn’t the Intel platform have that?” You know what [the Intel platform] takes down? It takes the whole operating system down. So that means if you have two applications running and you have a panic, it doesn’t just take the one application down like AS/400 does, it takes the system down and restarts it. People go, “Oh, we have that.” No you don’t!

GG: Domino for the AS/400 is just an application that runs with and on top of OS/400. And OS/400 isolates applications from one another. If one of them goes down, it doesn’t affect the others. It doesn’t take our operating system to its knees. We don’t use CTRL+ALT+DEL on the AS/400.

My desire is that customers who only have Domino eventually say "Holy cow, I can run my other mission-critical kind of business stuff on this."
MRS: What other specific benefits distinguish AS/400 as a Domino server?

KS: On a PC, if you were to hit CTRL+ALT+DEL and you have a little window that’ll pop up and say here’s all the processes that are running on my PC. On a PC, those processes are all running on the same block or the same memory space. Memory gets used up, your mouse stops in the middle of the screen, and it just is over-taxed, because it’s doing too many things. You have to hit that red button in the back of any NT server, and whatever you’ve got running on that server, they all restart. There, right there is what people have to understand as the reason why you can’t or why nobody does run two critical applications on the same Intel server.

GG: There’s a difference between “can” and “should.” I can put my hand on a hot stove, but perhaps I shouldn’t.

MRS: Why was DSD developed?

GG: A real driving force last year for us, when we looked at the [sales] numbers, is people that were coming to the AS/400 platform for Domino. That drove the Dedicated Server for Domino. We saw the AS/400 being successful in server consolidations of NT customers. We saw the smaller customers that wanted more than mail with Domino, who were growing up in the Domino space, and they found that they had to put in multiple physical servers for multiple Domino workloads.

We found that the Dedicated Server for Domino offered a value proposition for those guys, by running mail and applications on a single server. That was what a lot of them were coming to the AS/400 in general for, the ability to run mail and applications on a reliable server and serve the Domino mission-critical kind of stuff. We looked at that and said, “Jeez, if the AS/400 has a value proposition here, let’s be more aggressive.” So we pursued the Dedicated Server for Domino.

KS: It is in [customers’] very best interest to have a [standard AS/400] because of their ability to move into greater, better, bigger things. But DSD was created to compete at the low end, in that Intel space where people do almost single-application serving, because we didn’t compete there. We didn’t compete there because we were just so integrated.

MRS: You said it is ultimately in customers’ interests to run Domino on a standard AS/400. Can you expand on that, and compare the advantages of running Domino for AS/400 on a DSD with those of a traditional “red box?”

KS: The term “dedicated” should trigger something in the mind of a customer, and that is, there is nothing else on the system running but Domino workloads. That could be multiple Domino workloads, but they’re all Domino. If I were a customer, I would say, “Well if I’m all Domino, and I don’t really need relational DB2 sitting on the same server, I can go with a DSD. Or I don’t need J.D. Edwards running on the same server as my Domino.”

Now, there’s other customers that say, “You know what, I want one larger system, I want J.D. Edwards, I need DB2 as close to my Domino server, accessing it on the same system, and I only want to back up one server, or manage one server.” You still have that option. And quite honestly, that is what I hope that all of our DSD customers evolve to. That is my desire, is that customers who only have Domino eventually say “Holy cow, I can run my other mission-critical kind of business stuff on this.” I’d kill for that, because that is the best of all worlds.

GG: These days, with the new 270s and our new breed of hardware, you have even a third iteration—running e-business workloads, not just Domino. And that’s a traditional AS/400.

MRS: What makes Domino on AS/400 a good choice as a Web server?

My number one goal in life is to let the planet understand the 20 things you can do out-of-the-box with Domino…most people use a tenth of what it's capable of.
GG: Domino provides tools that you would have to build manually to manage a Web site if you were using the native HTTP. Certainly the native HTTP server can be used to serve up Web applications, Java servlets, etc. But if you manage that environment yourself, if you want to create a new Web page and promote it into production, you’re going to go do that manually. You can run a Domino environment for Web content management. Domino provides the search engine, Domino provides the indexing, Domino provides the workflow, e-mail confirmation, all that—all those are pieces and parts you would have to build or buy in a manual HTTP serving environment. Domino provides a much tighter level of integration of all the Internet technologies that you need for a Web environment.

MRS: Are there disadvantages in general with Domino on AS/400? For instance, are there Lotus add-ons that may not be compatible?

GG: We think that outside of the Intel space we have probably the most aggressive and best track record of having add-ons available.

KS: Most of the companies that [Lotus] acquires are usually kind of coding in the NT/Intel space. So it takes us a while to understand what it is they’re doing and what their future holds. One of the acquisitions brought to light a product called SameTime. Well SameTime is out today on NT, and that is the only major application I would say that is not existing right now this second on the AS/400, and it’s only because it was very recent. They purchased this company, and it immediately ran on NT because that’s what it was built on. So v1.5 of SameTime we are going to deliver for free as a beta at the end of September as we are working on 2.0.

GG: It is something customers have to be aware of, but we really believe if you look at the portfolio of add-ons, we’re there.

MRS: People familiar with Domino products sometimes say that the limited extent to which businesses use Domino falls far short of its potential. Would you agree with that assessment?

KS: That is my number one goal in life, is to let the planet understand the 20 things you can do out-of-the-box with Domino. I’d say most people use a tenth, a tenth of what it’s capable of. And that’s why George and I and Jelan [Heidelberg], our other partner, we actually get violent when people say, “Should I buy Exchange, or should I buy Domino?” I actually get upset, because they are not in the same food group. They don’t do the same things; they shouldn’t be in the same sentence. Microsoft has done a wonderful marketing job of convincing the planet that they should be in the same food group, and they’re not.

MRS: What sorts of things could businesses do with Domino that they aren’t doing?

KS: I would say it depends on the kind of business that they are, but for example, if you’re an existing AS/400 business, a lot of time and energy and effort has gone into your back-end RPG, or your back-end applications. Using Domino as an application in front of a back-end process is what people should be all over; Web applications serving, creating Web applications, and intranet stuff.

GG: To be able to extend your applications and encompass all those things that go along with a transaction. It’s unbelievable, the return on investment that those customers can see. Domino’s been known for years for delivering very high return on investments for its applications. You take a help desk application, you take Relevas for sales force, you take Binary Tree, and create an electronic catalog purely in Domino and front-end an AS/400 with it. And you’ll see a small AS/400 customer who probably wouldn’t be able to necessarily deliver that if he tried to grow it by himself using native tools, able to do a lot more. Oh my gosh. It’s so exciting!

KS: Having a knowledge base of information, and storing it and accessing it, that’s what Domino does. It gives you the ability to create, store and share this knowledge and have a database of stuff, these are the things that people aren’t thinking of. They’re using it for e-mail and calendaring and scheduling, and that’s great, but you know what? That’s a tenth [of what Domino can do].

MRS: What developments can we expect to see for Domino on AS/400 and DSD in the coming year and thereafter?

GG: Domino for AS/400 has been tremendous for us. And with Dedicated Server for Domino, we turned the crank and delivered aggressive posturing at the entry space for pure Domino applications. We just announced the 270s and the 8xx and the new product lines for 2000. One of the things they deliver is processing power, to do more of these robust applications more aggressively.

MRS: Given the issues with DB2 access, etc. on DSD, is there any discussion about expanding the non-Domino processing capability?

GG: There was capacity last year to do stuff to complement Domino, like file and print serving, and some level of application integration, like DB2 back-end access. With the 270s and the 820s we have increased the non-Domino capability—almost tripled it. We did that in ratio to the amount of processing power we’re providing. (The non-Domino capacity) is increasing in raw power, but we had to do that to make sure that we’re providing enough non-Domino for the robust Domino stuff. But what we also did was announce this new 270 that really does Domino and e-business at a different price-performance point than before.

KS: I think what you’re going to see is more of that, rather than the DSD itself becoming a new kind of system that does a lot more non-Domino, you’re going to find a non-DSD doing more…

GG: … more aggressive groups of e-business (applications.) Because, the value to customers is multiple workloads. We think that customers are going to gravitate toward something that can do DB2 and WebSphere and Domino all on the same machine. That’s what the 270 delivers.

Related Editorial:

  • Is Domino an E-Business Development Environment?
  • Packaged AS/400 Apps Take on NT in Domino Market
  • WebSphere vs. Domino

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