IBMSCfSB … in that case I would have kept LotusLive

IBM SmartCloud for Social Business. One really wonders, what they are smoking and I don’t want some.
I don’t have to go into details, why this isn’t a good name, just one argument. I have troubles to remember it.
But it fit’s into a long line of strange product names coming from IBM.

Even more amazing; it looks like nobody cares.

Is IBM the right vendor for SMB?

It looks like I touched a nerve with Henning Heinz when I said that IBMs products are not suited for SMB anymore:

IBM does not care about 20 people shops. They never did and probably never will. You are just looking at the wrong vendor for this space.
Having said that if you still like the technology you could sell LotusLive. I am not so enthusiastic about IBM’s cloud offerings but others seem to like it and licensing starts at 1 seat (so should work well for 20 people).
And for IBM and marketing. Well they are running record quarter after record quarter. They overcharge customers in such a way that I believe they must have a fantastic sales and marketing teams. IBM is awesome in many areas just not in those you (and maybe me) would like them to shine.

Wellllll … does IBM not care about 20 people shops? It did a year ago (remember, there was a product called basement(?) or foundation(?)). But we should probably talk about the Lotus brand, because IBM at least knows something new they did not wanted to realise for a long time. Most of the workforce is in SMB. Look at that:
Amazing, isn’t it? But let’s not be too enthusiastic. IBM only wants the 250+ companies but they should buy directly from IBM through a completely new web experience. And now something even better. From 300 seats upwards, IBM may want to talk to the customer directly.
Now what about Lotus? Yes, I was frustrated after the OGS 2011. It looked like Alister and the others tried to tell you a story, they don’t really believe or they can’t find the right words. For example Bayers story about how they use their new toys, wasn’t really news. We have heard similar stories since connection came out. It lacks the WOW-factor by now. And one thing came clear. If you want to become a social company, you need to take the whole Lotus stack. Lotus/Domino will remain a mail-server-that-can-do-apps/an application-server-that-can-do-mail (I am not sure what Lotus is selling today, but I think it is mail+). If you want to use Domino at its best, than you have to buy some X-Pages application elsewhere or invest in your development department.
I think I am not alone here. The applause during the OGS was low. The demos where somewhat strange, because I had the impression to see 3 times the same thing from different products. That explains probably, why Lotus is the only brand that does not shine quarterly. Customers just don’t get it anymore. It is too complicated and the concept is too far away from their daily business and pains.
When I wrote a few weeks ago about Lotus Notes/Domino as a cash cow and if IBM should come up with something revolutionary pretty soon, I hoped for  LotuSphere. It did not happen. The new Notes Client looked nice (as far as I could see it because the screen quality was lousy this side of the pond) but not revolutionary. But before I give my final verdict, I wait for the beta. But Henning is probably right. Lotus is not the right vendor for SMB anymore. That hurts.
Now what about the marketing? Oh, Henning, come on, we always brag about it. It is kind of a sport. But seriously, if you work only the Global 1000 companies, marketing is all about networking and personal contacts. They know you and you know them (kind of inbreeding). That has been IBMs traditional approach for 100 years. That even works for the Global 20’000. Why is Ed Brill flying around the world all the time? Because he is Lotus most important marketing tool. I really do not agree with Henning. IBM does not shine in the marketing department, except in keeping the personal networks of the sales people running. But that is something even the tiniest car repair shop masters, if it survives more than a year.

More Information from IBM on Lotus Foundations … yeah right.

This morning I found an announcement from Bob Jewell, Director of Business Development for Smart Business, about LF:

More Information from IBM on Lotus Foundations

I would like to make this community aware of announcements regarding Lotus Foundations made late last year. They were posted elsewhere but we apparently neglected to highlight them in this forum. Enzo Frati did add some information in this forum in November, so I refer you to his comments. I will try and clarify what we announced on October 26, 2010 and November 9, 2010.

The Lotus Foundations hardware appliance is no longer available for new orders. The Lotus Foundations software products will be removed from Passport Advantage and will not be available for new orders after February 8, 2011. We will continue to make Foundations software available for partners in North America with the Lotus Foundations VAR agreement in place. Of course we will continue to provide support for existing customers through the end-of-service date for their support contracts.

IBM received substantial feedback pointing out that the Foundations specialized hardware was attractive, but limiting and often not worth the premium price. Likewise, although the Foundations Linux operating system was attractive, the focus of small and mid-size organizations is on solutions, not core technologies. IBM has shifted focus to complete solutions that include the operating system and middleware capabilities of Foundations and run on a wide range of Intel based servers.

Our solutions will be branded Solutions for Smart Business. You can find out more about them at

More details on what I described above are available on the Foundations Portal ( or in the two IBM US Announcement Letters below:

– For Lotus Foundations Appliance (

– For Lotus Foundations software products (

Several members of the Smart Business team will be at Lotusphere. We will be happy to discuss this topic further with you there.

Now isn’t that funny. The hardware was too expensive. That’s the reason.

What happened? Nitix was less expensive, why? One reason was probably there was no specialised hardware. Go figure, the latest release of LF runs on a variety of Intel servers. They fixed that problem really quick. Wouldn’t be a factor anymore today … hmmmm.
Another factor was certainly that most companies would like to keep Outlook as their mail client. Killing DAMO was blow for LF but IBM could at least have kept ExchangIt. I thought it was a Nitix product anyway. But there are other possibilities like Zaraffa and OpenExchange out there. With a little bit of work, they could have run Domino and -Enter your preferred Non-MS-Mailserver here – on the same machine and make everybody happy … oh yes, sure, IBM strategy (Oh, did I tell you that we are working with Collax to do exactly that, sure I did. No? Now you know!)
If IBM would want to make it less expensive for the markets outside the US, they could have respected the real exchange rates. IBM still uses 1.6 Swiss Francs for 1 US Dollar. Right now the real exchange rate is about 0.95 Swiss Francs for 1 US Dollar. Would have made quite a difference in my market. But you know what, the people we talked to always thought it was a very good deal with all the bells and whistles it had.

LF will only be available for VARs in the US/CA after February 8th. For all those LF Partners who thought they could continue to buy LF licenses through the LF desk, this will come as a shock.

When I remember the time I spent to figure out how to integrate something on LF to become a VAR. The time I spent writing mails and talking to people to get the technical information I needed … and never got. The money I spent for a completely useless telephone marketing campaign organized by IBM and for catering at an IBM facility for presenting LF to IBM partners (we got the bill AFTER the event, quite a surprise). Sure we made mistakes, too. We thought, Notes/Domino isn’t that big of an obstacle, as long as you get a good value with other applications, but SMB don’t want a very sophisticated DMS or CRM system (and PAVONE has excellent products but they need a bit of training).

Something that really annoys me is that they just changed their mind so fast. At LotuSphere 2010 Ed Brill announced Traveller for LF. Will not happen. IBM could have at least given us and our customers the latest 8.5.x Domino/Notes releases and Traveller. Would have been a nice „We are sorry but we have to say goodbye“ gift. Would have been easier for me and others, but hey, I am just a lower life form for IBM (within IBM there is certainly a discussion going on, if partners are actually an intelligent form of life).
BTW, I tried to upgrade the Domino Server on my test box. No complete success yet. I was able to install Traveller on top of it, though, but it has been a while, since I had time to play with it.
Anyone else working on it?

A short history of a failure. The Lotus Foundations Story!

This is the story, how I witnessed the rise and fall of Lotus Foundations.
3 Years ago, I heard the first time about Nitix Blue. I looked at it and liked it. No OS administration and a network server that suited perfectly my needs.
I started to look at my home market. More than 300’000 companies.
About 260’000 micro companies and roughly 40’000 small and medium companies.
 About 70% of the employees use PC/Mac.
 More than 30’000 start ups every year.
 Nice! (And just to bust the „the US has more bigger companies“ myth, Switzerland has more Fortune 500 companies per capita then the US.)
I wrote a business plan. I presented my business plan to the-would-be-sole-distributor for the then announced Lotus Foundations and somebody from IBM.
They thought it was one hell of a good idea and presented me to some strange guy (Hi Serge), who had ideas in the same direction. That was the start of a new friendship and Informica.
Of we went.
 What happened at IBM when we contacted them?
 IBM came up with … nothing. Somehow they were never able to explain a marketing strategy. I think they never even had a concept. I met a few global and worldwide (what the heck is the difference?) sales, but nothing ever happened. I mean we showed our marketing plan and tried to explain what had to be done. We as BPs can not build the awareness. We tried to tell them, that cheap email and web marketing would not work. You have to talk to people. Face to Face. Get out. Spread the word. Contact start-ups. Get involved with associations. They did not even join an organisation for SMB and start-ups, where Switzerland’s biggest telecom company, the second biggest bank and one of the biggest assurance companies joined forces and Microsoft wasn’t there… yet. I had half a dozen meetings with different local and international people and the only result was. „Yes, we should look into things … we should … we should  …“ and … you expected this … nothing. We don’t live on the same planet.
Then IBM announced that hundreds of MS partners joined as Foundations partners. Unfortunately most of them wanted Outlook as mail client and they were not familiar with Domino. DAMO was dropped two month later. Despite what IBM said, Domino/Notes knowledge was essential to make users happy. The discussions on LinkedIn started with a lot of misunderstanding, what Notes/Domino is. I wished IBM had kept ExchangIt as an option.
 At the same time, they started to make the old Nitix partners mad. We couldn’t order through the Nitix/Foundations desk anymore. We had to go through Passport Advantage. This is hell for a product like that.
Then came this TCO tool. I mean it was a nice idea and it showed that LF was far less expensive then SBS, but that was not what anybody needed. I fought about this tool for quite a while with IBM but suddenly there were a few month of deafening silence and then the distributor was kicked out as the IBMs leading project partner. Some key personnel left IBM. We decided to write a letter and got attention. Unfortunately that new team wasn’t able to make the turn around. We had that deafening silence in September 2010 again. And now it is over and this is exactly at the moment when our new strategy kicks in and SMBs in Switzerland start talking about us.
Until today we had to rewrite several times our strategy. We had to do all the marketing ourselves. Nobody in IBM Switzerland was allowed to touch LF (Some did it anyway and I have to thank them. You know who I mean. A special thanks goes to Stephanie).
What killed LF?
Marketing was non existent. In IBM, those products who make the most money, get the most marketing funding, at least, that’s what I was told. I ask you IBM, how do you ever want to launch successfully a product with that kind of thinking? Egg – chicken / chicken – egg?
Technical training was nice but not sufficient at all. We never got enough technical information’s to really take advantage of the NVS. Somehow my requests for more information’s and training got lost in the mail or something like that.
DAMO was one of the biggest advantages that platform had. That IBM dropped it, wasn’t the foundations teams fault, but really bad for business.
Constantly changing the strategy isn’t a good thing.
Constantly changing key personal isn’t a good thing either (they call it blue washing).
Making an existent customer and partner base mad is plain stupid.
Bad communication with partners (or is there another name for this kind of lower life form) isn’t very clever either.

I really wonder, if IBM realizes how much damage they have done to quite a few businesses? Probably not.

R.I.P Lotus Foundations. Another story of a lost opportunity

The writing was on the wall and now its official. Lotus Foundations is dead. I don’t think that there will be any migration path to anything else.
What annoys me most, is the fact, that IBM again bought a perfectly good product and killed it. Two years. Twice they changed directions in marketing and distribution. Every time we had to change our strategy, too. We did it, because we believed in the product and IBM.

Dear IBM, you made us loose money. It wasn’t the product, that was perfectly good. It was your incompetence in bringing it to the market. We even gave you money for co- marketing, which was completely useless, because you don’t know how to approach SMBs.

You didn’t even had the guts to schedule a partner call, to give us the bad news.

You want us as Business PARTNERS. A partnership builds on mutual respect.

You know, that I was one of the most active supporters of Lotus Foundations. I always defended you. You just have to read my contributions in LinkedIn.

I am sad. I feel betrayed.

I am not mad at the Lotus Foundations Team. I had the honor to meet and talk to quite a few of you. It was always a pleasure to work with all of you.

PS: If anybody comes up with „that is only about Passport Advantage“, forget it. Outside North America there is no other distribution channel. For us, that is the end, except IBM comes up with something else.

Better late than never…

Here we are. The Informica Blog.

Who is behind this?

My Name is Christian Tillmanns and I am one of the founders of Informica of Switzerland. The other can present himself.

Another Blog, my god, was that necessary?

Duno. Is there already a blog about IBM Smart Business stuff? Nope. Don’t think so. We are the first.

Why the heck IBM Smart Business?

You will find out.

Only smart Business? How boring.

I can and will probably annoy you with other stuff. I am sure you always wanted to discuss the ball and string problem, settling with power or RSV and the 72 degrees offset on the R22/44.

… oh, BTW, IBM Smart Business and Lotus Foundations. Have I told you allready, that this blog is running on a Lotus Foundations Appliance?

Pretty easy to setup, once you know how to. Since I hate adminstration with a passion you only can dream of, it normaly takes me a very long time to figure out everything. For administrative stuff I have a very short attention span. That’s why you will see this blog changing constantly, while I find out, what I can do with it.

Now, how to setup a WordPress blog on Lotus Foundations.

1. Create a team for the blog. I choose … who would believe it … blog.

2. Create a Virtual Webserver: Webserver => Virtual Webserver Tab => Add virtual Webserver and fil in the URL, you can leave the IP address and choose the team.

3. Copy the downloaded WordPress Files in the www folder of your blog team.

4. RTFM from here

There is a slight problem with the autoinstallation of themes, but there is probably a solution for this.