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Buyer's Guide
Email Applications
July 2022
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Administration & Technical Director at a tech services company with 11-50 employees
Real User
Its security is absolutely stratospheric, and it costs a fraction of its competition
Pros and Cons
  • "Its security is absolutely stratospheric. In an application, you can lock down to field-level security. For example, I could log in and see a field in an HR database with salaries. When you log in, you see exactly the same database, but the field with the salary just isn't there. So, you can literally have field-level security on it, and you can also have secure encryption. For example, I could give you that database allowing you to see the salary, but a calculation that shows how much they get per month in another field is encrypted. So, you won't be able to see that because you don't have the encryption key. You can implement high-level security very simply."
  • "The only improvement that we're planning to do is that all our applications are still designed in the layout and format of Notes version 4, and our plan over the coming years is to modernize their look. One of the things they're developing or considering deploying is a program to automatically upgrade the look and feel of databases. If they deploy that, that will be revolutionary. In other words, we decide on a corporate look and feel for our database and press a button. We've probably got 50 different applications in Notes, and it would just go through the whole lot and upgrade all of them to look the same."

What is our primary use case?

We've got several key production databases within Notes. We are a chicken hatchery. We produce chickens for eating meat. We produce 10 million a week, and every single egg is traced on a Notes database. Every single delivery note is printed out from a Notes database, and many reports come off it. 

We're all on-premises. We've got two data centers, one in the north and one in the south, and they, in effect, are private clouds because people log onto them from everywhere around the country.

Most users are on version 11, but our servers are on version 12. We've got probably 50% of our head office onto the desktop version 12. We've been waiting to upgrade it till they release 12.01, which they did yesterday, so we'll be upgrading everybody to 12.01 in the new year.

How has it helped my organization?

We grow 6 million chicks a week up to fully grown and ready for eating, and to do that, we have 120 lorries that move around the country moving the chickens. Every single movement of a lorry is recorded on a Notes database, and delivery notes, animal transport certificates, and all other such things are sent out. We've got auto-texting facilities within it, so as soon as it's all been planned, a text goes out to every driver with the start times and the sites they're going to. So, there is a lot of automation.

We've got mobile versions on iPads on farms, where they key data into an application, which then comes straight back through into a database with reports coming off it. We've got a different version for the hatchery one, which we use in our turkey business for hatching the turkeys, and that's a variation on the theme. 

For the tablets, the programming was incredibly simple. We already had a database written that was used, and we made a tablet version of it in a day and a half. It uses HCL Nomad, which is the mobile version of Notes. It uses that, and it makes the database look totally different when it's on an iPad. You open the same database on a computer, and it looks conventional. So, it is dynamic. It swaps between the two. It is very easy to mobilize. It probably took five minutes per tablet to install the app. You open up an iPad and install the app from the App Store. You then do a Control+O and open the database.

What is most valuable?

Its ongoing license cost is a fraction of its competition. 

Its security is absolutely stratospheric. In an application, you can lock down to field-level security. For example, I could log in and see a field in an HR database with salaries. When you log in, you see exactly the same database, but the field with the salary just isn't there. So, you can literally have field-level security on it, and you can also have secure encryption. For example, I could give you that database allowing you to see the salary, but a calculation that shows how much they get per month in another field is encrypted. So, you won't be able to see that because you don't have the encryption key. You can implement high-level security very simply. 

What needs improvement?

The only improvement that we're planning to do is that all our applications are still designed in the layout and format of Notes version 4, and our plan over the coming years is to modernize their look. One of the things they're developing or considering deploying is a program to automatically upgrade the look and feel of databases. If they deploy that, that will be revolutionary. In other words, we decide on a corporate look and feel for our database and press a button. We've probably got 50 different applications in Notes, and it would just go through the whole lot and upgrade all of them to look the same.

For how long have I used the solution?

We've been using Notes since 1997. We started on Version 4, and we're now on Version 12.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Since it has been swapped from IBM to them, it has moved forward light-years. It had stagnated with IBM, and since HCL took it about three years ago, it has moved from version 9 to version 12. They're doing a version a year. They've made it go mobile. I've got lots of databases on my mobile phone that I use all the time, and it has moved unbelievably. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is infinitely scalable. We have a cluster of probably 25 servers across the two data centers of Notes servers. We have 150 users logging in every day, but I also have another 400 users who use email only on mobile phones, and the servers don't blink. You could put noughts on the end of those users, and it would still work. You could have thousands of users, and it'd be fine. To give an example, IBM used it on 250,000 users across the world.

How are customer service and support?

Support-wise, they are incredible. If you've got an issue, you can log it on a website. If it's an urgent one, you'll get a call within 10 minutes, usually from India. They are very knowledgeable people who sometimes are the actual programmers who've written the database. If an issue gets too complicated, they resolve it, and they won't give up till they've resolved it. It is probably the best support I've had on any application platform.

What about the implementation team?

We do have in-house programmers, but we also use two external business partners to help us on big programming issues and to understand our databases so that if internal programmers aren't available, they take up the slack.

They also have expert people maintaining the servers in the background, so we also use them for support on that.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

It is far cheaper to license. It is a third of the cost of our Microsoft license for 10 times the amount of usage.

Developing applications cost a fraction of anything else. There are two reasons for that. First of all, applications are very fast to build. All the security is already built into the platform, so you don't have to worry about security at all. The other thing is that because fewer people use it than, for example, Microsoft SharePoint, the salary commanded by programmers is slightly lower. So, it is not only faster; you also get cheaper programmers. So, you really win-win-win on it.

What other advice do I have?

There are two real headliners. The first one is that ongoing license cost is a fraction of its competition, and secondly: security, security, security. It is the most secure platform you will ever have. The email system, over 30 years, has never, ever been hacked. It is just so secure. We get hacked emails coming in here every day of the week, and when you look at the MX record, which is the header of the email, every single one of them is on Outlook 365. There are regular hacks of that. It's one of the most insecure platforms out there, but everybody is using it.

I would rate this solution a 10 out of 10. It is absolutely phenomenal. If you're not using it, tell your IT manager he must consider it.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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Buyer's Guide
Email Applications
July 2022
Get our free report covering HCL, HCL, Microsoft, and other competitors of HCL Notes. Updated: July 2022.
620,319 professionals have used our research since 2012.