Fun with Vowes visitor localization tool …

I admit, I don’t know, how it works.
Today I looked at Vowes visitor localization tool and zoomed in, to find myself.

First: Volker, it seems, you don’t have a lot of readers in Switzerland and I probably know all of them (yes, I know, depends …)

Second: I am not on the map. But, since any other tool normally sees me in Lausanne (almost 100 km from where I live), I had a look a the single red dot down there.

What lies under this cow pasture? The secret servers of Swisscom from the cold war? Or is it highly advanced organic server technology?
Or is the google localization just a lot of … c… poo poo? I checked a few other dots in Switzerland. Many of them were in the middle of nowwhere.
PS: Same thing on the iPad without G3. It just does not get my address right.
(And for the pilots under us: here you have to ultimate prove that cows do no stand around with their backside towards the wind. Neither do moose bears or reindeer)
Update: WordPress made my life difficult. I couldn’t see the tiff images first, only in the blog itself.

Do you know Lotus Live Notes?

Let’s ask the experts.
Yesterday I got a phone call from an old customer I haven’t heard of in years. He is going to retire, sold his company and wants to take his contacts or probably the whole CRM with him AND he wants to use his iPhone for mail and calendar. Now he asks me, how to do it.
He is still using Notes/Domino 7 (the darn did run without me all those years).
His CRM is pure Notes (written by me)
He is no fan of the „cloud“.
My first thought was to give him a small Domino Server with Traveler, something like Collax Office Entry. The Advantage is, that it is extremely silent. Backup, Postfix and all that stuff is included and it does not cost a fortune, but Domino would not be supported.
I am not sure, that it can manage the load with Domino and Traveller and for one or two persons running their own server is a bit overdoing it. And he should use a fixed IP, which costs, too. I am no fan of DynDNS anymore since mail servers tend to get blocked after a while.

My second thought was LotusLive Notes. I don’t know, if it is available in Switzerland, but does anybody out there have any experience with it?
It would have the advantage to be much less expensive, I suppose you can have your own mail domain and he could still run his CRM localy.

Any opinions or other suggestions?

One week with Time Capsule … and I thought life would get better!

I don’t know what went wrong during the setup, but my new and shiny Time Capsule is a pretty lousy WLAN access point.

Let me give you the scenario. Until last week I used a 5 year old Netgear Rangemax wireless access point. It wasn’t in perfect shape anymore, because I could not configure anything on it. It was just a standard WLAN called netgear, open, unsecured, but it still worked. I just could not kick myself enough in the lower back, to buy something new. Last week I thought, that’s enough, I buy a TimeCapsule and have two solutions for things I should have done month ago, backup and secure WLAN. As expected, the installation went without any problems and the backup is working fine, but the WLAN is worse than before. Speed checks show 3 times more upload than with the Netgear, but pages load slower and some don’t load at all or are messed up. Something I did not have with the Netgear (and right when you want to post an example of a page, which was consistently messed up until 5 minutes ago with time capsule and did load nicely with Netgear, the problem went away. Not even deleting the cash brings the problem back. I am sure it comes back as soon as I put the post online).
The range of the time capsule is a disappointment. Everybody told me, that it easily works over two to three stories. Forget it! It has less range than the netgear.
When I watch a streaming video on the iPad, it stops all the time, even when I am literalily sitting on the Time Capsule. Before I could sit on the proch, browse and watch streams, now I can be happy to have a connection at all.
Did I miss something somewhere? Can I tune the darn thing or should I just give it back?

Heise Webcast: Hochverfügbarkeit für KMUs

Für alle die das interessiert und des Deutschen mächtig sind, nächste Woche veranstaltet Heise einen Webcast zusammen mit Collax.
Hier gehts rein: Hochverfügbarkeit für KMUs

Wird sicher spannend. Beim letzten Partnertag wurden 4 Projekte vorgestellt. Alle für Firmen mit weniger als 40 Mitarbeitern. Es macht Sinn sich heute mit Hochverfügbarkeit zu beschäftigen, weil viele Unternehmen komplett von der IT abhängen. Wenn das Blech nichts mehr tut, können die Mitarbeiter nach Hause gehen. Die Collax Produkte sind ein Ausweg aus der Misere.

Vulcan, iPad, Smartphone, Nav … Live is silly sometimes

I just read Peter Presnells post about Vulcan. If it is really just another „Plugin“ (or Extension or what ever they may call it) I am happy. I personally really struggle with all the different social tools and I am not using many of them. There was a time, when I just used the Notes client with Sametime and RSS. Somehow, I was happier then. It made it much easier to follow all the stuff I was interested in, but it was far from perfect, but it worked. Today I use Google+, Skype, Messages (since today), Notes, Apple Mail, Gmail, Gdocs … and whatever else comes up. Nothing integrates really. I could live with one client again (but it should work on the iPad, too. I tried IMAP with Notes on the iPad, that’s not very nice. It made a mess with messages already read or deleted).
I totaly agree with Peter, that this Vulcan thing should be made available for a wider audience. Make it cheap, not free, but cheap. Let it plug in to anything, like Exchange, Sharepoint, Connections, Skype, Domino, Google+ and what not. Let me tag stuff. Let me use tags from other people, too. Let me tag and make it available for others at the same time. Let me tag it and make it available to other applications at the same time (I suppose, that would be extremely easy with XPages technology). Tags could replace folders, all you need is a tag cloud, that looks like a folder tree. Something like that is the WOW thing I am expecting from IBM and if it works like that, the traditional Notes client will survive, but there will be a new client that plugs into it and Ed would be right in saying, that he has no intention to rename Domino and Notes and I would be right, because I said IBM needs a new product. That would be the rising star IBM needs in this market. If it works, Outlook will look pretty old.

Last week in Germany. I asked somebody about the fastest way to the Highway … and the guy looked at me, as if I was from another planet. No, I don’t have a nav-thingy. I still use maps. Why? I like them. I like to find my way on paper and have the map in my head. Knowing where I am is extremely important to me. Looking at a navigation screen makes me nuts. Voices that tell me, where to go, drive me crazy. Yes, I admit, sometimes it helps, but many people are completely lost, without the darn things. I know people who take longer to program their navi gadget, than it actually takes to get there and they still get lost. Me too, but that does not bother me. Now the funny thing is, when flying, I love the GPS navigation equipement, because it gives you MORE situational awareness, not less, like in the car and it does not have a voice (except more advanced ones, who yell at you, because they want to protect themselves from being the first at the crash site).

I think I need professional help. My desire to buy a smart phone is fading away. Since I bought the iPad, I don’t need a phone that does the same, but on a smaller screen and with all the interconnection with my Apple stuff at home, It would be silly to buy anything else, then an iPhone (I think, but I am not an expert here). I don’t believe in having to answer every email immediately. Imagine, if somebody needs help this second, would he write an email? No, he would call. Therefore, if somebody writes me an email, he can wait until I have time to look at it on a larger screen. The same goes for social tools. Would you post a message on Facebook saying your car broke down, please pick me up at the next train station. No way. But it looks like, there are not many people that share my opinion. Is there somebody out there who can point me to a pro, that sets my values right?
Today I should like Outlook, smartphones and Garmin or TomTom. Looks like I am completely off track.

Collax Partner Event … Virtualization for SMB or the stuff you allways wanted from Lotus Foundations.

It was a good event. Collax is growing. Adding jobs constantly. The products are mature and the coolest thing they have, is the V-Family (Click on the German flag on top/right for the English version).
It’s based on KVM (Collax, IBM, Redhat and 120 other companies are active here) and it looks like Collax is one of the few companies which actually made an easy to use product of it.
Collax partners presented a few reference projects where customers moved to high availability clustered solutions, all with less the 40 users. Some had highly critical software still running on machines from the stone age, which needed replacement as fast as possible.
It does makes sense to give the latest and best to small companies and Collax solutions are due to different reasons, just more cost effective.
Everybody should just love the pricing. One machine, one price. No POV, no memory counting, no „the more you use it, the more you pay“. It looks like some competitors realise, that there is a new kid on the block. Collax is mentioned in white papers of competitors together with Citrix, VMWare and so on (made the Collax guys very proud).
And … you need less hardware. The embedded SAN makes this possible, for example.
And all you need for administering the whole setup is a browser. The UI still looks a bit old, but this is going to change soon, because some lazy admins want to take their iPad/iPod/iPhone/Smartphone to the beach and work while waiting for wind or waves (Boris Nalbach, the CTO is an avid wind surfer, must be his idea).
One of the best features is the graphical representation of the „virtual network“. Even I can understand what’s going on in there. They really do their best to make the setup as easy as possible. During a presentation earlier this year, a non IT person was able to install a cluster with two nodes in about half an hour. Hard to beat (but she did read the manual first) and with the new managing possibilities, you have your customers server under constant surveillance. Reminds me of the time with the AS400, where IBM technicians walked into offices to fix something, before the customer even realized, that something was wrong. Yes, I know, others can do that, too. But everything in a browser?
The whole setup screams for XWork Server installations. Or imagine Connections on it. You could set it up once and reuse the VMs every time you do a new installation.
Collax now has all the products a hoster or anybody else needs, starting at the virtualization technology with the new server managing tool, the security stuff, anti virus, surf protection, gateways, small business server, groupware and we are soon adding a bookkeeping tool for Switzerland and Germany. If you want just one vendor, Collax is your friend. I don’t know another vendor with such a broad portfolio for infrastructure that all fits together seamlessly.
Another aspect is the evolution of the legislation. It looks like, that many cloud provider will have huge problems and right now the data protection officers are homing in on them. Anybody who thinks that Office 365 or Google docs is the way to go, could be in for a surprise.

Remember Lotus Foundations? This is Lotus Foundations NG (kind of) and I will get one in a few weeks. It’s the Office Entry Server from Collax. It’s cheap, it can run out of the box everything I will ever need, including Zarafa and installs almost as easy as LF. But it does 64bit.

First I am going to play around with it – V-Cube and different servers – and then it will replace the Lotus Foundations Box. I am going to connect a Time Capsule to it and the whole power of Lotus Foundations (or whatever I am going to do with it) will sit on my bookshelf. No noise, less power consumption. That’s the thing I always wanted. I could build a high availability cluster with two of them (not supported, but Collax did it for the fun of it). Does it make sense to virtualize on a small box like that? Who cares. Sometimes I just need a new toy. I probably need two, because of 8.5.3 … or the beta stuff that hopefully comes out at LotuSphere…. oh wait, I could install 8.5.3 and Connections … or XPages Server and use the DB2, too … or … or…



While I was sitting there, some MS admins startet to talk about Exchange and the Zarafa rep explained MAPI. Zarafa uses the nativ MAPI interface and stores in the correct format in MySQL. It looks like, the whole MAPI stuff is quite a bit of a mess (and will be replaced by web services). Everybody living in the yellow bubble, should just be happy. Our data model is straight forward. We just don’t know the pain our collegues from the dark side are living in, because of the lousy not so ideal architecture of Exchange.

XWork Server … a new era?

Ed announced the XWork Server one day early … probably just because he wanted to be the first! I me, the silly idiot, even asks before posting anything on the 4th, if it is OK, to write about it before they wake up, because of another time zone.
Anyway, let’s look at Ed’s new toy.
Now what about the the fuss? First, it’s an ISV offering. It’s up to you and me (again!) to push it in the market. That’s great news for all the XPages developers out there, who’d like to sell their browser based applications without having to sell Domino. Now you can tell customers that your app is based on an IBM application server. It’s bad news for those who saw marketing money raining down on us, because of the re-branding, but I come to that later.
During the webcast last week, they made the point, that ASL would be a good way to sell it. If you consider ASL, please look at the warranty. All the warranty IBM is giving for the licenses you sold remain with you. Your customer does not get warranty from IBM. You have to provide the warranty for your products AND the XWork server. This sometimes leads to extensive discussions with the legal department of your customer.

Let’s look at a few things I discovered in the F&Q’s:

Q: How is XWork Server licensed?
A: XWork Server uses a fixed term licence and is licensed per install.

Q: What is a fixed term license?
A: A fixed term license offering grants the right to use the software, including Software Maintenance, for a fixed period of time. At the end of the Fixed Term License period the license and its associated Software Maintenance will be automatically extended for another period and the customer will be invoiced for that new period unless they notify IBM or their IBM Business Partner prior to the end of the term of their intent to terminate the license. If they choose to terminate, they will no longer be authorized to use the software and they will lose their entitlement to Software Maintenance.

This is more a subscription modell. If you use it, you pay… $2000 every single year. No more „It works, why would I need maintenance for it!“
… and this answers also the question that came up during the webcast, if IBM will still send our customers the bill 3 month before the end of the licensing term. Yes, they will.
If you use ASL, IBM will come after YOU, if you let slip the date!

Q: Can you give me an example of what constitutes an application?
A: Say you have a product launch application comprised of the following.

  • One database for administrative/configuration
  • One database for marketing content
  • One database for launch tasks
  • One database for workflow logic

    This would constitute one of the four applications per install

Q: What if my application requires more than 4 databases or I want to run more than 4 applications on the XWork Server?
A: You may purchase an additional XWork Server entitlement for that physical server. This means that each application may contain up to 8 databases. It also means means you can have up to 8 applications on that same physical server thus allowing customers to run more applications before purchasing additional hardware.

Q: XWork Server ships with a lot of databases. Which ones count towards the definition of an application?
A: XWork Server ships with numerous databases that can be broken into two categories. Social Business databases deliver business value to individuals or groups of individuals and would count towards the definition of an application. They consist of Teamroom, Discussion, Document Library and Blog. All other databases are defined as system databases and do not count towards the definition of an application. Some examples of a system database are Directory and Log.

I am sure, the whole database/application thing will be a thing of many (probably heated) discussions. If I use a blog and a online shop with 3 databases, is that one or two applications. The blog has technically nothing to do with the CRM, but is part of marketing, because I would very often link to products in may shop. I would use only 4 .nsf, but that would count as 2 applications? IBM, I think that modell is bound to rise blood pressure on many occasions, especially if a customer is just one or two databases over the limit.
Why couldn’t IBM just think simple once in a while.

Q: With XPages, can I access data that resides in an NSF on a Domino server?
A: Yes. XPages allows you bind your controls to data that resides in a separate NSF and that NSF may be on a different Domino server. If that NSF resides on a non-XWork Server, you can access that NSF and
that NSF would not be counted as part of an XWork Server application.

Now that made me smile. I can have 27 databases on different Domino servers, all accessed through one XPages app on a XWorks server. If your customer has already Domino, there is a loop hole. If he hasn’t, how about buying a single Express license and the XWork Server? Unlimited access through the XWork Server but the data of more then 16 nsf on an extra Domino Server, plus the replication.
The silly thing is, if you start looking for loop holes, the licensing modell isn’t a very good one. The more you have to explain the licensing to the customer, the less confidence he has. Look at VMWare, there is a half day course about the licensing. A competitor with an easier licensing modell, has a head start (Collax, hint, hint, sorry, had to do it).

Now the marketing, or rather the lack of it. The offering is for ISV’s. If you’r not an ISV, move on, nothing to see here, really (after having read all the stuff above, thank you). It will not be a new LFD (Lotus Foundations Desaster), because not even IBM thinks, that they will sell many XWork Servers, but it’s a good offering for ISVs and it opens the way into new companies, who hang up on you, if you just say „DOMINO“.
I think, that XWork Server is a shot in the dark, to find out, if the re-branding works. I am pretty much convinced (I have said it before), that „Domino“ and „Notes“ will be gone within 12 month, and I applaude IBM for this. But as I also said before, that IBM has to deliver a completely new product. (from the outside! What user cares if the technology is still Notes, as long as it looks better, has cool new features and is faster, AFIAK Exchange also still runs on Access/Jet). Throwing marketing money at the XWork Server, does not make sense. The next Domino (called XTalk? Naa, that’s taken, XCollaboration, that’s not snappy…) and XWorks Server together will be a more complete offering. Marketing will make sense for the whole product line. But if IBM tells us again, that it is up to us to promote it, it will be a LFD.
If you count on „viral“ marketing, uh oh. That works for cool products from underdogs much better. Apple has this success also because of good marketing and they do lot’s of it. They are here in Switzerland in the top 10 regarding marketing budget and have over 20% market share. Think about it.

„Dear IBM, even though you may believe, that many of your BPs rant and whine, you should realise something: the majority is calm, but will move away without saying a word. Your partner base is shrinking, your customer base is shrinking. If YOU want to stop that, it’s up to YOU!“

Anything else?