What is all the Fuzz about – IBM is doing with Lotus what it should

I admit, I wasn’t invited to that ominous call, but what I have heard and read the last few days, made me think. I have not read anything, what was actually told in the call, only what wasn’t.
Let’s get a few facts together. It looks like IBM is making money with software. But which product, I don’t know, but certainly Notes is not the product where IBMs hope is lying in the future.
I said it before. It’s a cash cow. A good one, probably. IBM follows the text book what to do with a cash cow. At the same time, they are building up a rising star. Today I would say, it is Connections.

Lotus is a brand that has turned into something people don’t like too much. Therefore kill it. Makes perfectly sense.

Interestingly, the discussions, especially on vowe’s site, turn technical pretty fast. In short, many of us think (that is, the heart of the community), Notes is a dinosaur, too big, too slow and too old and we would like a revolutionary new toy. Something that wasn’t here before, but it should be backwards compatible with all the old Notes apps. Forget it. Will not work (I like Mikas idea, rewriting it in Fortran, hihi). CouchDB could have replaced the nsf files. IBM owned it and certainly thought about it, but did not make the move. Wonder why?
If I was a developer at IBM for Lotus, I would also say, let’s do something else. You can’t endlessly fiddle around with the same stack and IBMs promise to guarantee backwards compatibility, is a very bad heritage. It is almost impossible to change the nsf engine. That thing is over 20 years old. Why do you think M$ is never doing in place upgrades? They can’t, because the new product is always too different from the old (and they wouldn’t have a reason make the customer paying big money again next time).

If IBM is not completely stupid, Connections could be the new Notes. But to achieve that, IBM can do a few things, to help Partners to move and build up the new community.

1. Make it easier to install. In this aspect we haven’t evolved. We still need to install an OS before installing the application. How silly is that. Why can’t IBM include a optimised Linux server. Would help a lot and even give IBM a lot less headache in supporting the darn thing. Throw it on a Collax V-Cube (or other KVM based virtualization system or even hardware) and start it up. Makes customers happy (the M$ affectionados can continue to install it on their own). IBM knows how it works. The smart cube does just that (that’s were LF ended up).

2. Make it available for small companies, too. It can be a useful tool for anybody. Limited version for free? Good idea.

3. Add a simple mail server to it (or is it already integrated?) IMAP, MAPI(?), WebDav should be there.

4. Train us IBM. The whole lot of us. Everybody who has a Notes certification should be trained for free (LOL, I can’t even get XPages training in Switzerland)

5. APIs, APIs, APIs … if possible even for Cocoa and Ojective C (and Fortran for Mika). I want an app for that.

6. … and for all those Notes customers. Integrate the XPages server and a transformer license

7. Mobile, mobile, mobile … even limited offline capabilities would be good. I mean apps, not browser, btw.

8. Don’t make a fat client. Let the community write apps, but build support something like OpenNTF.

IBM you would have a new community in a blink of the eye. Will they do it? I have my doubts. There isn’t a business process for thinking out of the (In-) box (I still remember that marketing pitch).

We have seen in this episode again, how badly IBM communicates. We all remember the times, were we felt valued and respected by IBM as business partners. It hasn’t been like that in the recent past.
I think, the big ones have more luck, but Notes partners are on the lower end of the food chain now. Imagine, Group is the biggest and has just over two hundred employees and makes 20. mio € in turnover. 99% of us are not big enough. Therefore we fell out of the focus of IBM. Logical no?
Now lets get our grips together and evolve. Let’s move. We will be lucky, if we get any help from IBM, but there is no question, that in 5 years, many of us will have moved to other pastures. If IBM likes us, they will try to keep us, if not, you know, how much they cared about you, but don’t get angry at IBM. It’s just a strategy that maybe isn’t that bad.

BTW: I wouldn’t bet on Exchange and Sharepoint. Those are as antediluvian as Notes. There is still life in them, but they are hardly very innovative (even less than Notes). Don’t go there. Too many players already. I would bet on Apple and Linux right now.




Fun with customs

Yesterday I got a call from a supplier. He told me, that some hardware we ordered in Germany will arrive later then expected.
Customs wants the hardware to stay 24 hours at the manufactures site. What? It was build there and that took longer than a day anyway!
Since the handling agent did not give any more information, rumors began to spread.
I think, it was because of a possible Trojan horse. Within 24 hours the Greeks will be hungry and will give themselves up.
My ex girlfriend (AKA my wife) thinks, it’s quarantine. 24 hours should be enough to find out if it is virus infected.
It could be due to EHEC, but it isn’t an organic product, they certainly use chemical products to grow the chips. But the bugs could be infected, if they ate sprouts.
My partner thought it is a silly process implemented by the US headquarter of the handling agent, but since that would be real possibility, it was dismissed as not plausible, because customs logic and procedures have nothing to do with reality. And it’s not funny anyway.
Any other ideas?

Email Fun

This morning I received an email after I sent out  an invitation for a webcast to all the addresses I painstakingly collected over the last years (really, we don’t buy addresses).

Him: „Where did you get my email address.“

Me: „From your website.“

Him: „Please remove the email address!“

… I was very close to answer: „Sure, send me the password for your web server.“

… or: „Sure, because now I have your personal email address!“

Or this afternoon I filled out one of these contact sheets. This is the header of the confirmation email, which contained all the information I provided:

„Thank you for your request. A message with the information you provided will be sent to the email you provided.“

Now, they sent me an email to the address I provided with the information’s I provided, to tell me, that they are going to send me an email to the email address I provided, with all the information I provided.

That’s a terminal case of routine-blindness.


PS: If somebody is interested in the Collax Webcast, go here.



Apple Keynote – Those are the kind of things I like

It looks like not many of you have watched the Apple key note. The news were great, from my point of view.
I believe, that Apple got the mobile stuff right. Everybody else is going towards the browser, Apple is pushing the mobile devices and connecting them.
It fits my way to work. I want the mobile device to be mobile, not dependant from any Internet connection. If there is one, just update (replicate!) the stuff, if not, I want still to be able to work.
(BTW: Roaming is still extremely expensive here)
Browser applications may be good for the administrator and the costs, but are bad for me. I just can’t get the hang of them.
We had that for years with Notes. That is the one feature I like most in Notes. Many times at customer sites, I can’t use their network. Now Apple even takes the need for the server away. It just replicates, between all the devices I own. Now what about a company that wants to use iCloud? I don’t know, but I hope, that apple has a solution. iCloud on premises would be the thing. Since the replication mechanism is in the apps and Apple provides an API for this, it shouldn’t be a big problem.
And there was one thing Steve Jobs said: We got rid of the file system! There is no filesystem on iPad, iPhone and iPod.
Yessssssss! Finally! Hopefully I can use that on the Mac, too.
No need to save documents anymore. It’s about time.
Apple Mail is cool, too. It reminds me of NotesBuddy.
Now IBM. You know, I like Notes generally. You know there are things I don’t like about Notes. You had the technologie for years, why don’t you came up with a replication for Symphony?
Why isn’t there an easy and lightweight document management system for Symphony and Domino?
Why can’t I drag an address from my contacts or CRM in a Symphony document?
At least, IBM promised that several users can work simultaneously on the same document. The problem is, do I need that? Do I want my colleague Serge write here in my blog while I am writing?
I don’t think so.
… I could go on.
When I looked at the presentations from IBM the last few years, there where often integrations for decision makers, but not for the end user. Apple does stuff that really helps me working and being mobile.
And isn’t it completely stupid, to buy a whole PC with all bells and whistles just to use a browser?