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Whirlpool Ditches IBM Collaboration Software, Moves To Google Apps 101

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-apps-you-know dept.
cagraham writes "Appliance maker Whirlpool has decided to stop using IBM's "Notes" collaboration software, and instead move to Google Apps for Business. The Wall Street Journal reports that the decision was based on both worker's familiarity with Google Apps, and lessening the IT workload. Because most workers have used (or use) apps like Google Calendar and Google Docs, Whirlpool's IT staff won't have to devote as much time to initial software training. This move lines up with recent enterprise reports, which largely forecast an increasing move to cloud based software. Whirlpool's contract with Google will cover all of their 30,000 employees."
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Whirlpool Ditches IBM Collaboration Software, Moves To Google Apps

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  • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday October 07, 2013 @12:15PM (#45059937) Homepage Journal

    Oh look, normal IT operations in a large corporation just happened. I don't see what's special here.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Having had experienced Lotus Notes before I can tell you that this was not some minor infrastructure change.

      I want to know how they did it without losing any functionality (or sanity!)

      • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday October 07, 2013 @12:41PM (#45060311)

        I want to know how they did it without losing any functionality (or sanity!)

        While our previous setup wasn't from IBM/Lotus, we switched to Google Apps a couple years ago. In our case the thinking wasn't "do we have 100% of our old functionality?", it was "is it good enough, especially given the cost savings (Apps is free since we're an educational institution)?" - and the answer to that question was yes.

        It's sort of like all those places that switched to Hyper-V a few years ago. It was obvious Hyper-V was lacking in features when compared to VMware ESX; but in a lot of circumstances it ended up not costing anything up front, so the "good enough" argument combined with the cost savings won the day.

        I'm not saying it was necessarily the right decision - it wasn't my decision to make, only to implement. But it sure seems like "good enough if it's cheap enough" rules the day much of the time, anymore.

        • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:24PM (#45060911) Homepage

          Switching from Lotus Notes to anything else (including Notepad) is likely going to be an improvement.

          Sanity, functionality and Lotus Notes are not terms that belong in the same sentence.

        • Your Hyper-V argument makes the perfect case for totally short-sighted cost savings.

          Hyper-V may work "well enough" for a lot of single host implementations with very basic VMs, but once you get to shared storage and clustering environments (where virtualization really gets interesting), Hyper-V blows.

          I work with a VAR who does both and we see lots of organizations implementing Hyper-V because its cheap and then we also help fix it when it blows up, like one client who had a fuckup with their Windows host SA

          • by cusco (717999)

            That was Bill Gates' moment of insight back in the days of Windows 3.1; for most uses "good enough" actually is good enough. Too many companies were spending time and money to make a perfect operating system or office suite, delaying releases and raising costs until every bug was squashed and every possible combination of events tested and retested. That mindset was absolutely necessary in the mainframe environment (or its modern equivalent, your shared storage and clustering environment). For a desktop?

      • by jd2112 (1535857) on Monday October 07, 2013 @12:46PM (#45060387)
        Notes and sanity are mutually exclusive.
      • by nucrash (549705)
        I want to know this myself. My company built some notes applications back about 15 years ago. They still use them and don't show any sign of ditching them. Newer applications are showing up as web based apps but still use a lot of the Lotus Domino design parameters. I think corporate office even uses Notes for their purchase orders. They built in the approvals and tied them to the User IDs. Brilliant if you ask me, but the work that went into design would probably cause a lot of chaos if they should e
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Do you support any Enterprise Software? And does anybody you know stand to be affected if an organization goes from running this stuff in-house to a service provided by Google?

      But, most importantly, it's nice to see businesses moving away from the great evil which is the Notes suite. :-P I've never known a single person who liked it, but I've known people who were stuck with it.

    • by Jawnn (445279)
      Riiiight. It won't be news until the next time Google Apps goes sideways and 30,000 users at IBM are idled for the duration.
    • by MrLint (519792)

      Because the ramp you have to take to break away from Lotus Notes is very steep indeed. There is also a massive amount of inertia.

  • Lotus suite sucks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 07, 2013 @12:34PM (#45060197)
    I've worked for IBM and had to use notes and other stuff. Everyone that was forced to switch from outlook to notes wanted desperately to switch back. Notes should die already, it's junk!
    • by rickb928 (945187) on Monday October 07, 2013 @12:37PM (#45060267) Homepage Journal

      We switched from Notes to Exchange/Outlook a few years ago. I would take Notes back in a heartbeat.

      And of course all the Notes databases and apps got ported over about 2 years late. And don't work very well. And go down regularly.

      Notes was an elegant solution before anyone else got there, and it takes 2-3 major services to replace Notes. But, hey, it's progress, and getting IBM GS out of your app dev is worth it.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        We switched from Notes to Exchange/Outlook a few years ago. I would take Notes back in a heartbeat.

        I believe you, but really? I've never known a single person who didn't hate Notes -- I'm actually surprised to see someone say they liked it.

        I've never seen it much myself, but I've heard a lot of people complaining about it over the years. I've just assumed it was universally reviled.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I used to hate Notes working with it at IBM, then, after they laid me off (thinking that had something to do with participating in the overtime lawsuit/settlement around 2007...), and went back to former employer who was using Notes (older version). They then came up with bright idea to outsource that "sort" of stuff to MS for Outlook/Exchange/Sharepoint/etc.

          I did not think I would miss Notes, but a few years now with Outlook has changed that thinking. Probably one of the biggest issues for me is that all

        • Is the parent comment from a NOTES Admin, Dev or AS OPERATOR? I ask because those are the only folks who ever liked Notes. The bean counters who originally put enterprises on "the notes" are long dead and their 123 spreadsheets no longer rule the world.
        • by Belial6 (794905) on Monday October 07, 2013 @02:08PM (#45061493)
          No, tons of people like Notes. It is just trendy in IT to hate it. People actually doing work like it just fine. One of the current reasons that Notes gets a bad rap is that it takes so much less resources to run it. You might have 1 or 2 guys running your Notes platform where it takes 6 or 8 guys to run other platforms within the company. So, when you sit down for a meeting, and there is a platform clash, you have 6 guys pointing out the flaws of Notes, with one point out the flaws of the competing product. This makes it look like Notes is inferior.

          I'm not saying that Notes/Domino are perfect, but if you look at most of the complaints, it will be about versions from over a decade ago. Then most of those complaints will fall into 4 categories:

          1) It was slow. This was a somewhat legitimate complaint. Notes was a big application with a lot of functionality. Almost the entire server code base was included with the client. This had the downside of making the application bloated. The upside was that your server based applications ran just as well locally, and would replicate to the server as soon as you connected. This is less critical today, and the added weight is less of an issue.
          2) It would crash. This was true, although it didn't crash any more than most applications of the day. Complaints about Notes crashes fall into the same category as complaints about Win95's blue screen of death. Historical trivia.
          3) It didn't follow standards. This is only sort of true. What it didn't do was follow 'Windows' standards. This is because Notes/Domino both predated Windows, and thus it's standards, and it was cross platform. Lotus had to decide whether to standardize it's application to itself, or to each of the platforms it ran on. It also had to decide whether to make a major revamp of it's interface or not. That is not a minor decision. Personally, I think they waited too long. At one point, the only OS the client was produced for was Windows. (Today it is Windows, Linux, and OSX) The day they decided to have the client be Windows only, they should have revamped the UI and key bindings. They eventually gave in, but they took a big hit by waiting as long as they did.
          4) It wasn't pretty. It look good now, but when it was first put on Windows, Lotus created a UI that matched the Windows 3.1 look of the day. By the time that Windows 95 came around, The graphics were horribly out of date. The functionality was top notch, but we know how much people like their shiny.

          All of these are legitimate complaints, but not only are they outdated, they are the kinds of complaints that would apply to any of Notes/Domino's competitors. I use that in the present tense, because the back when the complaints were valid, Notes/Domino had no competitors.
        • The Notes application was a bit clunky but the core architecture was nice in some ways. It's biggest "failing" is that it is really an open-ended collaborative database platform with e-mail and calendaring tacked on. That makes it less friendly to non-technical users who aren't completely isolated from the internal workings of Notes.

      • by onyxruby (118189)

        You have got to work as a Notes admin for a living, know someone that is or have a vapid hatred of every other like kind product. There is no other explanation that I can possibly think of for your calling Lotus Notes "elegant".

        As someone that has had to use Lotus Notes off and on for close to two decades I have never heard anyone call it "elegant". For that matter the kindest comment I have ever heard spoken about it that is doesn't spread viruses and I'm including the time I spent working at IBM!

    • by nucrash (549705)
      Ran Notes for 13 years. I don't know why anyone wants to run anything else. The biggest problem with Domino is that it's under utilized.
      • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Monday October 07, 2013 @01:27PM (#45060957) Homepage

        A classic example of the Stockholm syndrome.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Bingo. Look at a lot of the complaints about Domino, and it tends to center around people trying to compare it to Outlook. While I think Domino compares favorably with Outlook, Comparing Domino to Outlook is like comparing Apples to modern agriculture.
      • by SpzToid (869795)

        The Clinton administration used Lotus Notes, and none of this was newsworthy. Lotus Notes is a solid database system with excellent replication.

        Then the Bush administration came in and ditched Notes for Exchange and made headlines for lost emails and failure to archive; almost as if the crappy Microsoft functionality was desirable for not being up to the task of keeping operable, accurate archives of staff messages.

        The current administration uses a Drupal/OpenAtrium intranet with email notification.

        http://a [arstechnica.com]

    • by beamin (23709)

      The other repliers to parent need to fall into line. Everybody hates Notes! No exceptions allowed!

      I worked with and supported Notes for 10 years at IBM, and really liked the product. There were some frustrations, but I was very positive about it on the whole.

      Now that I work for a small municipal agency, I miss Notes' flexibility and app development capabilities a great deal. But there's no way we can afford it for so few seats.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        Domino is incredibly cheap. Cheap enough that I license it to run in my home. Look up the pricing on "Domino Express". It is the same application the "Enterprise" version with the caveats that there is no clustering (yes there is still replication), and you have to have less than a 1000 users. There are a couple of other small items that I don't remember, but nothing serious. If you have a small shop, you likely wouldn't use the clustering anyway.

        I do a lot of development in Domino, and there aren't
  • Wrong headline... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rickb928 (945187) on Monday October 07, 2013 @12:35PM (#45060209) Homepage Journal

    Shouldn't this be titled "Whirlpool ditches Notes, doesn't choose Exchange"?

  • Let's just keep pushing all of our data to Google for the rest of the world to sift through. Brilliant job. I hear the same thing about managers pushing crappier software packages because of familiarity rather than the Cadillac packages. Then they run into issues trying to push forward because of limitations in the software. The flexibility of Notes is one of the reasons why my company still uses it. I don't see the Google Apps applying to the business processes as well as many people might think it doe
    • Let's just keep pushing all of our data to Google for the rest of the world to sift through.

      You're confusing a paid business service with a free ad-supported personal service.

  • Hooray!!! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Anything is better than Notes, I would rather chisel messages in stone than use Notes. Wish I was working for Whirlpool now.

  • by ErichTheRed (39327) on Monday October 07, 2013 @12:44PM (#45060357)

    I saw the first post was "what's so special about a company changing their collaboration software?" Allow the old man here from simpler times to explain. :-)

    The reason why it's a big shift is because, at this point, Notes is beyond legacy status when it comes to email/collaboration apps. I don't know how much success Whirlpool will have with Google Apps, but I imagine their users will be happier. For anyone in the IT business in the early/mid 90s and forward, especially if you worked for an IBM shop, you probably have had some exposure to Lotus (now IBM) Notes. My company is still a Notes customer, most probably because of a sweetheart licensing deal or just inertia (I work in our product engineering group, corporate IT is handled separately in my company.) Notes was one of the first "groupware" applications, and companies built huge, complex applications for it. (Oh yeah, I forgot, that's the other reason we're still Notes customers -- rewriting the few remaining mission critical apps with tons of mystical business logic embedded in them hasn't been done yet.) Anyway, email was just another application, and it was never Notes' strong suit. One thing it did have that was very important for 90s era road warriors dialing up from the middle of nowhere was the ability to truly work offline and replicate messages when you had the chance. Outlook only got good at this around 2003, so Notes also had a pretty big following in consulting shops and places that had a lot of disconnected or poorly connected locations. Remember, kiddies, when Notes got its start, the Internet was still an academic exercise and as early as 1998 or so, slow dial up was the norm. That's the environment Notes was built to run in.

    Anyway, IBM has been keeping Notes on life support for ages ,along with Lotus Symphony which it inherited when it bought Lotus. The latest clients have almost completely been rewritten in Java with some native front end code, and it's very slow. One thing Microsoft has done a pretty good job with is the Outlook/Exchange combo in terms of user responsiveness. But Notes still has some of the 90s look and feel in it, and it really seems like they gave the recent client upgrade project to a bunch of new grads in India (which, given that it's IBM, isn't a shocker.)

    Notes is a good lesson in what happens when a formerly decent software product gets ignored for a long time -- a sort of "software rot" slowly sets in and competitors just keep adding new stuff while you stand still. MS Office isn't exactly the same thing -- they're constantly bloating it with new stuff; not really standing still the way IBM has done with Notes.

    It'll be interesting to see how quickly Office 365, Adobe Creative Cloud and Google Apps are taken up by businesses. It'll sure change the landscape for IT guys -- lots of my "professional" colleagues who rely on knowing strange obscure software features over systems engineering work are going to be very surprised one day when companies are just renting applications and need fewer in house people to feed them. I've seen this coming for a while and have been preparing -- even if the whole thing fizzles out, it's good to be multi-talented.

    • Office 365, Adobe Creative Cloud Still have local apps and Trying to do photo shop over remote desktop will suck a lot of bandwidth and lag can make control hard.

    • by MrNemesis (587188)

      Similar experience here; I've always previously been at MS/outlook/exchange shops, so it was a shock to arrive at a new job (at a ye olde established firm) and seeing everyone use Notes. Email, depending on the business unit, was either long since migrated to exchange, or in the process of migrating to exchange (so I've never had to deal with it for it's much-derided mail functionality, although I think outlook is a bag of crap in this regard as well), yet there are still a shitload of bespoke applications

  • by DeltaQH (717204)
    IBM? Who is IBM?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I was exposed to Lotus, then IBM Notes, in the mid and late 90's, and it was atrocious.

    The users at Whirlpool will think of Google Apps as... the savior. And not because Google Apps is so good in absolute terms.

  • ... and I HATE it. It's inferior in every way regarding usability as compared to Outlook.

    E-mails are more difficult to compose. There's only very basic formatting options. No format paster. In the world of browser tabs, it's very annoying that I now have to find the e-mail tab as opposed to switching between active programs to get my e-mail and calendar.

    The calendar is harder to use. It keeps moving the start of the 5 day week to the current day, making it hard to use. (On a more positive note, I like the t

    • by Dynedain (141758)

      You can use any email client you want with GMail using IMAP.

    • > Notes can run on Windows/Linux/AIX/iSeries

      This is precisely correct. You are deliberately prevented from complex layouts and sophisticated formatting. This compels document writers to use formats that are likely to be legible in 10 years, and that favor actual written content over sophisticated layout. I've found the change to be enormously helpful in revealing who can actually write documentation, instead of merely format it cleverly.

  • Ok... I know there aren't many alternatives, but seriously... moving to Google Docs doesn't sound good in the current climate. It means that all business mails and documents will be easily accessible by the U.S. government.

    I don't know whether Whirlpool stores and information that is considered customer confidential, but I'd imagine that they have documents regularly stored on their systems that are marked "Corporate Confidential". Does voluntarily choosing to store files on a server owned by a U.S. corpora
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Monday October 07, 2013 @07:39PM (#45064831) Homepage Journal
    That's "FUCKING Lotus Notes" to you. And anyone else who's ever used Lotus Notes. Unless you use Notes to justify your six-digit developer salary you probably hate fucking Lotus Notes. I'm honestly surprised any company outside IBM was still using it. Last one I'd heard about was Generous Electric and I think they switched to Exchange over a decade ago.

    After IBM tried to replace RETAIN (A data retrieval system written in mainframe assembler) with Notes several times, and failed each time, they decided to just use it as their internal mail system to try to recoup their $6 billion. They're probably $8 billion in the hole now due to lost productivity. Lotus Notes did replace their old mainframe mail system, Profs, but Profs was better. Much better. Stabbing yourself in the eye with a spork would be better than having to use Lotus Notes for any length of time.

    Really it's a surprising move on IBM's part, sticking to that stinking pile of shit. For a company with over a century of business experience and an otherwise sane-ish track record, it's a strange thing for them to get stuck on. Continuing on with an extremely bad two-decade business decision really isn't like them at all. They'd be better off if they pulled Profs back off the ol' A-Disk and started using that again.

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