The Cloud – Risk or Chance for Business Partners?

During the last year, I attended many entrepreneur meetings all over Switzerland and I met many, many new cloud fans. Cloud solutions are spreading. What does that mean for the traditional business partner? Bad news actually.
Cloud solutions with the most impact on our business, are normally provided by the biggies. Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, SAP, Google you name it, they have it.
SAP one design is eating into the SAP Business One business, Microsoft 356 into every business partners revenue stream, IBMs LotusLive, too. Suddenly, the Big Ones can provide services to everybody fast and easy and all we can do, is migrating our customers and then they are gone for good.
Customers love cloud solutions. No more hassle with servers and all the updates. Access it everywhere. It is cool. They may loose a bit of individualism, but today’s software has so many features, that at least 90% of the needs are covered by one provider or the other. The need of the average business for individual software is diminishing. Some of this is just happening in the heads of CIOs and CEOs who want main stream solutions. They see it as less risky to buy of the shelf. That this may lead to additional manual work, instead of automatizing, is just not a factor. ROI isn’t an overwhelming argument (Silly, if you ask me). Many customers see recurring manual work as more productive, then taking the time to create a template and reusing it. Really! I heard this story so many times, my blood pressure doesn’t even raise anymore. A gain of productivity and a pay back within 6 month just isn’t always an argument in IT. BTW, that’s one reason, why Lotus Foundations failed in the market (apart from that nobody knew it). Gaining time in setting it up and having a incredible good backup and recovery system, isn’t enough. Because during normal operation it works like anything else and you can’t complain at the country club, like your chums who went main stream, or in other words, it had no want-to-have-feature for the user.
Now back to the cloud. It’s the new black. It was Apple and Google that broke the Microsoft monopole for good to make room for everybody else to start cloud solutions. Today it’s cool to have an iPhone, iPad, Mac Book, iPod, at least at home. Android is kinda cool, too and Microsoft is just for the rest. You need it in your company, it is taken for granted, but it is not the ultimate thing to have. Today customers only want to know, if the new CRM works in the web browser and on the smart phone. The technology isn’t important at all anymore. Or would you care, if SAP uses Oracle or DB2 for SAP by design?
As a Business Partner of any of the biggies, we should be alarmed. Don’t get me wrong. If I was Sam or Steve or Gini or Larry, I would do exactly the same thing. Eliminate the middle man (the BP!) and bind the customer directly to me. Hey, but what about the BP, who has been a loyal follower for years? Who cares. Frankly, we are all attached to Notes, not so much to IBM. Probably to Ed, but not to IBM. BPs who are playing on both sides, Exchange and Domino, are from my point of view as the boss of IBM, not my loyal followers. Yes, yes, we always told customers that Domino is so much better, but they still want Exchange. Got it? We are rather loyal to the customer. If there was a completely new product with all the nice things of Notes and more, more speed, better design and so on, we would all jump wagon before you can say SUPERCALIFRAGILISTIC – EXPIALIDOCIOUS. Now why should IBM care about us? They don’t have to (we would better call ourselves resellers or something neutral, than partners).

It’s all about keeping the customer. There are a quite a few arguments, that do not work.

If you tell customers that by US law for US companies or companies that just do business in the US, his data must be made available on request to the US authorities, without the need to inform him!
He does not care. I do, but I have yet to find somebody who does care.

„If you have no internet, you don’t work.“
Internet is extremely reliable today, therefore not an argument.

„You still have to do backup, because you can’t trust your cloud provider.“
Customers just expect, that the clouds backup works.

„You will have problems to get your data back, when you want to migrate.“
Why should I think about migration now?

„You will have problems to get support.“
No, not really, it may be less comfortable than just calling you, but it works.

„You will have outages at the worst possible time.“
But they do guarantee 99% accessibility!

… and so on. The answers of the customer may not be always entirely correct, but he believes it, because the cloud sales told it.

What should we do now, to keep our customers? I know, on premises isn’t dead, but if the stuff in the server room is more complicated and less performant, than the cloud, more customers will move to the cloud. Incidentally, there are solutions which are less complicated, than the traditional stuff (LF was one, Collax is another) and they could provide customers with something that feels like the cloud.
IT companies can set up on those tools their own clouds. Collax cluster solution is pretty cool … and has a license scheme, which is clear and easy. Even I can handle the installation and the administration and it is the chance for any IT company to go forward and keep customers.
Another idea would be fractional ownership in the cloud. Buy part of a cluster and share the hard- and software with other IT companies. Makes it easier to start.

What is the advantage, if you go cloud? Keep the customer! Create a continuous revenue stream. Easier path to the customer to offer new services. Become a customer to the big ones, instead of a reseller. They will like you much more. You can take whatever technology suits YOU.
Disadvantage? Initial investment, but that isn’t so big, if you start with KVM solutions. The change of the business modell is quite a step, but managable with good planing.

If you have a customer, that wants to go cloud, why not going with him? It’s a chance or a lost customer. Rather take the chance.
And now think about XPages and XWork Server. We just got the easiest path for extremely cool cloud solutions presented on a silver tray.
Grab it. See! IBM is still caring a little bit about it’s BPs. But IBM is changing and the BP has to change, too.

I completely forgot to tell you …

… that I am not always devils advocate, as Ed called me.
Here is my article that was published in November in the publication of the Swiss Small Business Association.
… and a quick search on Google reveals, that I am probably the only one, who ever wrote in a Swiss printed publication about the XWork server.

Das geheimnisumwitterte Projekt: IBM XWork Server

X-FILES – SIE SIND UNTER UNS! Im Oktober stellte IBM den XWork Server vor. Meiner  Meinung nach eine ideale Plattform für KMU, um die eigene, vielleicht nicht sonderlich homogene Umgebung, für Mobilgeräte und Internetbrowser fit zu machen. Der XWork Server enthält vom Start weg alles, um webbasiert Business-Logik diversen Endgeräten zur Verfügung zu stellen. Webserver, Datenbank und Userverwaltung sind integriert und wer zufällig IBM Notes nutzt, kann lokal replizieren. Ein nicht zu unterschätzender Vorteil für Mac und PC Benutzer, die nicht immer online sein können oder wollen.
IBM hat es verstanden, aus vorhandenen und neuen Technologien einen Webserver zu kreieren, der offene Webstandards, Entwicklungsumgebung und Lizenzmodell zu einer Plattform vereint, die den Einstieg in die mobile, bzw. browserbasierte Welt erleichtert.
Der Clou am XWork Server ist die Fähigkeit, wie eine Spinne im Netz zu sitzen und verschiedene bestehende Datenquellen, z.B. SQL, Filesystem usw. zu Web-Anwendungen zu verbinden. Das eröffnet Möglichkeiten beispielsweise für Reportgeneratoren und individuelle CRM Systeme. XWork Server braucht nur eine Hardware und kostet genau einen festen Betrag pro Jahr. Keine CALs, POV oder sonstige Gemeinheiten die Preisberechnungen zum Projekt ausarten lassen. Das es das noch gibt?
Mit kostenlosen Erweiterungsbibliotheken und auch Code-Beispielen die man sich aus dem Internet holt, ist der Fantasie für auf den Nutzer zugeschnittene Business Applikationen kaum Grenzen gesetzt (Sie wollten sicher schon mal ein Business-Cockpit)! Das ausgefeilte Berechtigungssystem funktioniert bis hinunter auf Feldebene und ist relativ einfach verständlich. Anbindung an die gängisten Benutzerverwaltungen ist selbstredend integriert.
Der XWork Server nutzt  zwar offene Standards wie beispielsweise Java Server Faces, doch es reichen normale Webentwickler-Kenntnisse, HTML, XML und JavaSkript. Als Einstieg kann man sich schon mit Drag&Drop ausgefeilte “Webapps” (denglisch für Internet Anwendung, aber man muss dem Zeitgeist hinterher hecheln) zusammenklicken. IBMs “XPages” machen es möglich.
Mit XWork Server wird insbesondere individuelle oder schon erhältliche Standardsoftware erschwinglicher.


See Ed? I am acctually trying to help you selling it (and I am still waiting for that invitation for that feast).


Blog Spam – What the heck is the sense in this …

I always had spam on the blog once in a while, but last week it started to get interesting. Suddenly there were a lot of similar posts that looked like that:



Eingereicht am 13.11.2011 um 17:24

78xDYL , [url=]lvzyesjptoct[/url], [link=]zcfoemxuzred[/link],


What the heck is that? All is completely random. There is nothing behind the links. It’s just bla bla.

The Email I get, isn’t a lot more informative. Except for the ISP.


Autor  : bzjvam (IP: ,
E-Mail :
URL    :
Whois  :
NNewIA , [url=]cvlbbyvgvlvk[/url], [link=]szbebnqznvym[/link],


 Sometime it comes from an Amazon E2 server. Once I even got an IBM server.
What is the purpose of completely nonsense? Annoy me? Ah bugger, sorry, can’t help you there. I get so much advertisement emails per day, it doesn’t bother me anymore. Sometimes I even read a headline from an IBM Partnerworld mail. Happens. I feel, that this is rather interesting. How do they get past the captcha? Did somebody build a robot that can read the captcha? Or is somebody out there filling my blog with BS by hand? Oh, boy. They must be desperate. OK, Sunday afternoon, 3PM is the worst time in the whole week, but you must feel extremely down to build spam by hand, even at the long dark tea time of the soul.

A message to the spammer:
Hey guys. Get a live.
But this time I let you have it. Let’s see how much spam you can put in my blog, let’s say within 3 days. I promise, that everybody can read it. Ok, I will edit a bit, cut the links, make remarks. But this is your chance to fill a blog with Spam. Go for it.


iOS 5.0.1 – I am not the only one, who has problems understanding you guys form down under

I love that. The last point on the iOS 5.0.1 update is:

  • Improves voice recognition for Australian users using dictation

Siri must have a hard time with the OZ slang.
Hey Siri, look here: Australian slang dictionary

With a bit of help from Siri, the rest of the world could actually understand what they are saying.

PS: Due to a lot of Spam lately, I had to turn on the admin check for comments. I am not going to get up during the night for that 😉

IBM Marketing for Notes/Domino – move on, that’s a boring post.

If you are expecting ranting about IBM’s marketing here, move on, nothing to see here. Marketing shouldn’t be a never ending story.

A lot of things were written about Sam Palmisanos time at IBM, since he announced to step down. Interestingly, the head of marketing, Gini Rometty is taking his place (do we have an Italian clan thing here?). Therefore, she is responsible for the marketing of Notes/Domino – or the lack of, as many would say – for the last few years. Was it really that bad? Depends on your point of view. There is one thing, which explains a lot.

IBMs focus has always been on business software, hardware and services.

No consumer products. Not even the PC’s were widely available at mediamarkt or whatever retail chain is out there. That limits the possibilities quite a bit.

Would Notes be a good consumer product? I doubt it. The current Notes client lacks quite a few things for being suitable to consumers: MAPI, good IMAP support, ease of use for several mail accounts and so on. A private customer can’t even buy it. Therefore the whole theory of getting consumer products into business fails for IBM products. That works for Microsoft and Apple. They have cool (at least Apple) products, people want to use professionally. IBM would have to go the other way, cool business products for consumers. Does that make sense? No way (look a RIM)! It could happen, that IBM comes out with something really cool that everybody wants. Yes, Vulcan could be the thing, but would IBM would have a huge uphill battle until they had a consumer channel. I don’t think it is going to happen (but I like surprises).

If IBM cares about businesses, why are they loosing one account after another? They add a few, but that does not make up the loss. Part of it are certainly the consumer products, that move into corporate IT. I believe, that is not even half of the story. What I don’t believe, is that Ed and his team are not fighting for every customer – who must have a certain size, certainly – that wants to move away from N/D. In the case of Ernst & Young it could be that IBM his happy about it, because that would give PWC a financial advantage.
Microsofts FUD and other really aggressive moves towards IBM are certainly a big part, but IBM lacks a few products, to make customers completely happy. As long as Windows is the corporate user interface, Microsoft will always have a foot in the door. Even Apple is in a better position here.
CIO’s are often not really geeks and everybody prefer what they know. Unfortunately there are much more MCSE’s and so on out there, who are much happier installing Windows servers, than Linux (you are lazy) and since M$ promises that everything works perfectly together, they just do it. That you get lots more trouble with M$ products, then with anything else, isn’t a factor. The problems people have with M$ products are taken as normal.
ROI just isn’t a strong argument. Many of the geek CIOs don’t even know what it is and those who know, aren’t geeks and believe M$.
IBM has two strong psychological factors against it. First, people don’t like change and people tend to do what others do, or in other words: „You will not get fired for buying Exchange“. The first factor makes it hard for IBM to move people to N/D, the second factor makes it hard for IBM to keep customers, who want to upgrade/update their infrastructure.

After being nice, now a bit of rant. The mistakes about N/D marketing have been done years ago (Workplace!) and Ed can’t turn back the clock easily.
In the moment I don’t see a product portfolio, that would attract customers below enterprise size. Having the possibility to add Connections files and profiles is great, but four different applications on three different servers? Lots easier to deploy Sharepoint (I believe, but I could be on thin ice, here. BTW, Connections screams for a high availability solution from Collax, sorry, had to do it).
AFIAK, the bonus system for IBMers does not motivate them to go after renewals. If it is true, that’s a shame, really (again, thin ice here).
Notes is getting old. Too big, too clumsy, not intuitive enough, not-so-nice UI (I would not call it ugly, though, but the workspace should have had a makeover years ago).
Said all this, I don’t believe that Ed or Gini are stupid. I rather think, that they know everything I have said, already, but it isn’t easy to turn that train around. At least they could fight the M$ FUD, after all, IBM invented it.

Do I have a solution? Not if the next major release Notes Foo, isn’t something I would like to use as my one and only application to solve all my business and private needs. In other words, either Notes Foo is a huge step forward in integration of all those bit’s and pieces I have currently to deal with, or it is over. Yes, that’s easy to say, because if Notes Foo is the huge step forward, it will sell like hot cakes anyway, but in IBM’s situation, a me-too product will not get them anywhere. Therefore the solution lies in the product, not in the marketing.

Now lets wait till LS2012 and see what happens. A bit like a second Christmas. You hope it is what you wished for and that it isn’t another pair of socks.

Ps: Told you it’s boring.