By by IBM Verse Basic

I don’t think anybody is interested in this information but I give it to you anyway.

IBM Verse Basic Users,

Thank you for your use and feedback of IBM Verse Basic. Now that IBM Verse has been in market for a year and we’ve matured the product, IBM will be withdrawing Verse Basic from service on June 15 2016, after which you won’t be able to log in. To continue to enjoy the benefits of IBM Verse, we encourage you to visit to purchase a subscription to IBM Verse or IBM Connections Cloud S1.

If you have any additional questions please refer to our support forum.

Thank you,
The IBM Verse Team

That was it then. So much for „Taking on Google“ or any other quote about something IBM has never done before. Same old, same old.

Is that the „first 100 days“ Vowe talked about last week? Wow, what a bold move.

I just shut down the last IBM box I had. Probably the last Lotus Foundation box in active service. Now I don’t have any IBM product in use anymore. Kinda sad, but live moves on.

ConnectEd in Zürich – Old Boys meeting

I am not going to bore you with a lot of technical news about IBM Verse and stuff, but first, I want to thank the IBM partners and distributors, who actually run the show. IBM provides rooms and some speakers, the partners do all the rest, as I was told. Great job, really.
This time, there were more C-Level tracks half as long as a technical session. I suppose that was to allow for the lower attention span of the C-Levels, therefore I will do the same thing here and give those with a lot of meetings waiting for, a management summary:

ConnectED Zürich: 5 march 2015
IBM Verse: Very good. Strongly suggest to consider replacement of Microsoft Stack.
IBM Watson Analytics: Great technology. Not available from any other vendor.
IBM Notes: Will be supported for the forseeable future. Consider to move to Verse anyway.
IBM Connections: By all accounts and opinions even from some Microsoft Partners, still the better product. Consider to move as soon as possible.

Having now reduced the number of readers by half we can go to a more in-depth look.
IBM Switzerland must have reduced its workforce significantly again, because half of the building is now used by other companies. That isn’t really good news. And the roof leaks. Really. I got hit by drops twice during cocktail hour.
I and others had the feeling, we were at an old boys/girls event.

There are one or two things I found rather interesting.
Scott Souder stressed the point, that Verse isn’t just about mail (we have heard that before … for about 25 years) and IBM is looking into making classic Notes apps available in the browser without a plugin. As we were told, this is a sky-high priority, since most browsers could not care less about plugins and IE is as crappy as ever (I did not see a single hand, when Scott asked who used it). He also said, that we all have to realise, that especially Notes is 25 year old. There are things in there that make it hard, to make it a modern client. The browser is just the better and easier tool for the future. But Notes 9.0.2 is coming and a 64bit version for OSX, too (Scott said we shouldn’t tweet certain things he said, that would get him fired: Sorry, Scott, I forgot which, I didn’t tweet it and you say that every time).
Domino, XPages and Bluemix are really something to be considered. It really can ease some pain. IBM thinks, it is a tool to get new developers on the platform. We have heard that before, too. I rather think it is also a great tool to migrate slowly of Domino. I just wonder about the OpenNTF tools and Bluemix.
The thing that let my jaw drop to the floor was this: Jeff Schick apparently said, that IBM wants to have 500’000’000 users in the Verse cloud … half a billion … 5 times 10 to the power of 8. Err…. Dear Jeff, do you realize that the world has roughly 7.3 billion human beings? Only about 40% use the internet: 2.92 billion. Half a billion would be about 12% market share. Notes has less than half a percent. You would have to convince a few big ones to move to Verse. I see a few hurdles to this idea.

(Disclaimer: Below is what I have seen until now. It is subject to change by IBM and I have not seen the pricing. So I might be completely and utterly wrong.)

First: Not everybody has the 500-emails-per-day-problem. Many live happily and stress free with their current installation. Even if it is an Exchange server.

Second: Do you really think companies would trust a computer to filter their mail? Companies (and there are many) whose administrators day after day go through the quarantined spam and look for mails that might be important?

Third: We don’t need another email address. The domain of the free Verse is From a marketing point of view, that is a nightmare. It sounds like a beta domain (apart from that the name „Verse“ itself is a marketing nightmare, for example in French „je verse“ is pouring something and in German it sounds just awful).

Forth: It is really sad. Again IBM does not understand small companies. Nobody will move from their free or almost free (change countries and providers as appropriate) address to a free address, if there isn’t a huge advantage. 500 MB file space isn’t enough. I think IBM should match Google Drive.
For small and micro companies there isn’t that big advantage that makes them change. None whatsoever.
Every single time IBM tries to get small companies in the boat, they mess up … every f+%&/* time (my blood pressure … breathe slowly). I can’t see any reason, why this time it should be different.

Fifth: IBM claims every time they announce some new feature for Worse – ups sorry, just the sound of it, I mean Verse – competitors come up with something similar. The only difference is: The competitors deliver. They are here right now.

And last: Nobody understands Watson. You can’t show it really. How do you want to sell that? There will always come up the argument, that users can do that with rules. I use that single button on my apple mail quite often and that works nicely for me. And just for the record. Most don’t understand „People centric“ neither.

Dear IBM, the Verse offering does not show a USP that makes Tom, Harry and Dick/Sally, Susan and Diana move. None. Nada. No „wana have“. I did not say it is bad, oh no, it is great, but as ever IBM marketing su….. isn’t good enough. You have to come up with an offer that is so good, that about 2 billion users might consider a change (By the way, how about a run-your-business offering for business partners? I am looking into moving my this blog and mail to something else. But I want to keep my domain).

I have seen the Verse ad for the second time. The first time was in a blog post. It isn’t „everywhere“ as was claimed. At least not here. But Here and again, IBM fails again to „SHOW THE PRODUCT“ as what it is. If you don’t know, it is about email, you just wonder what it is all about and the ad was clearly targeted towards big companies.
IBM isn’t on the radar of small companies. Just isn’t. Not here, not there. Nowhere. It would be IBM’s duty to go to the small companies to change that. But this is hard work and by far not as interesting as the Global 500. Which have their act together and don’t need IBM to explain it to them.
Since I am generally a nice person (some say), I give you an idea, what I think the offering should look like and makes it different from others.
A difference would make: „Pay once, use forever“.
For example. I just need freebie Verse but I want my own domain. I give you 20 bucks and that’s it. Don’t need no support. I can point my MX record to your server myself.
Need another user with the same domain? 20 bucks.
Need guest access to files? 20 bucks.
Migration of old mail and calendar entries? 100 bucks (20 from Notes).
Just add features that are not important for everyone and I pay you if I need it … once, because there is just one change once.
Give me a choice.
If I want something that asks for more space or computing power? I would pay for it every year. That is fair. But just because I want my own domain, I don’t see, why I should rent that right from you.
I want an offering where I have the choice and the difference between free and full service isn’t a 1000 bucks. Sometimes I just want a salad and not the whole menu.
And now the last bit. I don’t want to be the product. Not even if I use the free Verse. Therefore NOBODY touches my stuff, I don’t know personally. Make that clear to everyone. And even more important. I want my stuff here in my own country.
IBM I make you an offer. If you get the offering right, I will personally stand on 10 Saturdays in 10 different shopping centers and on 10 Thursdays at SMB exhibitions around Switzerland. You just have to provide the marketing material and your name. I give you my time. The exact terms would depend what we agree on, but you don’t have to pay me for those 20 days or more than 100 hours of hard work. Deal? That should once and for all show, if Verse is the product for SMB.
By the way! Where is the business partners place in all that?
So far so good. Scott Souder, HP and Louis Richardson were fun to see as ever.
Other memorable sessions – because I went there – were those of the University of Zürich and the one of Klaus Bild about SDI (formally known as TDI).
The switch of the University of Zürich to Notes is one of the big success stories of the last years. Nobody knows about it, which is another IBM marketing failure.
They have rather interesting problems. 158 institutes that can do what they want. Central IT Services can’t even do something, if one of the institutes decides they want their own stuff. The institutes are completely free, as it should be at a research university. And they have from Amigas to the latest Apple gadget everything and it has to work (well somehow limited in case of an Amiga). And only Notes/Domino can do this. Now did we ever doubt that?
During the speech Dr. Roberto Mazzoni wasn’t all nice and cheery with IBM. Scott was sitting in the audience but probably didn’t get everything, since it was in German. I suppose he heard it before. Today the University of Zürich runs a huge Domino/Notes infrastructure for about 40’000 users. All that with just 2 Admins. Amazing isn’t it? And that isn’t all. The Uni-ZH has added Connections, too (needs a bit more manpower to keep it alive though).
Two words of warning came from Sandra Bühler of Belsoft, the company that helped the University: If you use Traveller on a Microsoft Server, be aware that Microsoft might come after you and wants you to buy CAL’s for your users. There is probably something in the fine print that says you must. Therefore: Linux. It’s anyway the better solution.
IBM always says to engage HR in the deployment of Connections. Don’t! They don’t have the time and „resources“ to do it.
My last breakout session was about SDI. Google it and you find „SmartCloud Desktop Infrastructure“ or „Software Defined Infrastructure“. We were getting a closer look at „Security Directory Integrator“ or better known as „Tivoly Directory Integrator“. When is IBM ever going to stop the product renaming circus? It does not make sense at all.
Anyway, it is still a great tool, but IBM should invest a few bucks to get some limitations fixed. It is very annoying that one has to write the whole XML code on a single line. That line can easily be a long as a cargo train. Is carriage-return-new-line such a big problem?

That was about it. I am really a bit annoyed, that I never got the chance to test Verse in its early stages. I have registered several times and never got a reply.
Whenever it comes out, I want to test it thoroughly. Is anybody out there game to do a group test? Sending emails to myself is a bit boring, but if anybody wants to find out what is all the fuss about, we could do it together. Some real life testing.

We will see what happens next.


It’s time to say goodby … or is it?

25 years of Notes & Domino and the signs of the end of an era are getting stronger. Hardcore yellow bleeders are moving to other pastures. Some think it is the last ConnectED. That’s sad. Especially since IBM had tons of chances to turn it around. Instead of using those 138 billion (138’000’000’000 or 9.86b/yr) USD since 2000 for making a few people richer (and a lot of employees/retirees poorer), IBM could have used that, to get its act together. Did not happen. Somehow giving away money was more important, than making money.
Just to give a perspective, how much money IBM did not use for product developement:
The LHC, the biggest machine in the world, did cost 9 billion and found evidence for the Higgs and a quite a few other things important to all of us (particle physics is important, very). Still the CERN fights a constant battle against people who think this is a waste of money. It isn’t. CERN is justified just by the existence of WWW alone.
National Cancer Institute budget 2013: 4.8 billion.
Fermilab 2013 0.360 billion, down 9%.
UNHCR 2012 4.3 billion USD
UNICEF 2012-2103 0.96 billion USD

It is amazing, IBM made itself into the poster child why shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world (Jack Welch). That must count for something.
In short, 2014 was for IBM rather a disaster. Hardware sales are down 40%. There isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel to be seen.

IBM had CouchDB once. Would have been a nice replacement DB for Notes and Connections.
Instead of making programming in Notes ever more difficult and complicated, IBM could have invested money in making it easier.
Looking into a new design language in 2014. That should have been done years ago.
Did not happen. Anyway it’s a waste of time to look back.

Verse is bound to be the next cool thing. Well, we will see. At least for those who like to have their stuff around them and not in some foggy thing, it will be at least another year if not two, to wait until Verse will be available on premises, if ever.
I am willing to give it a try, but I am still waiting for the beta access, I registered for in November. Therefore I can’t say anything about it.
My last attempt to follow a webcast was unsuccessful. I waited hours for it to start and then suddenly it was over. Must have blinked. The replay link a few days later was dead.
Looks like Verse does not want to have anything to do with me. Probably I should take the hint.


I told you, didn’t I?

THIS I wrote almost two years ago and surprise surprise, I was quite close to what happened lately with IBM and Apple. Quick read? I’ll wait.

(Dumdidumdi… have to mow the lawn again. Stupid rain … Oh, the cat (Floh, because he had flees when we got him) under my table is dreaming again. Sounds like a fight with someone. Haven’t heard him growl like that since that stupid orange tom attacked him)

Ready? Good. Overall it seems that I had the same ideas than IBM and Apple. Their products do not overlap, Apple needs, or rather wants more foothold in the B2B market. Only IBM doing something in the customer market, isn’t mentioned at all, which I think is a mistake. But I am getting ahead of things again. Let’s read the Press Info. (Dumdidum and so on)

Does somebody strike something there? Mostly it talks about what IBM is going to do. There is hardly any mention of Apple, bar the enterprise care plan.

The landmark partnership aims to redefine the way work will get done, address key industry mobility challenges and spark true mobile-led business change—grounded in four core capabilities:

  • a new class of more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions including native apps, developed exclusively from the ground up, for iPhone and iPad;
  • unique IBM cloud services optimized for iOS, including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration;
  • new AppleCare® service and support offering tailored to the needs of the enterprise;  and
  • new packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management.

Apart from the selfworshipping in the first part, it’s more or less IBM stuff for iOS. Apple will certainly help with the design – meaning look-and-feel and IBM needs every help it can  get – but otherwise, it’s all about IBM’s cloud offering.

For me, that does not sound like a partnership between equals. Taking in account IBM’s current problems with declining revenue, that looks more like IBM’s grasp at a straw.
If that concept fails Apple has still its consumer market, where it shines and if Apple decides it can do it without IBM in B2B, it will. For IBM it would be a lot of lost money it can’t pay to share holders, a lot of lost time it does not have to turn around and again lots of pissed off customers and partners.
Analytics also comes into play again. I don’t believe in a huge market. Analytics can become quickly much too complicated for most people and specialists in that field are in short supply. Most companies will do without or will try to mimic it by using SQL and spread sheets.
But IBM has 400 mathematicians(!) that can help. That will be the same problem as with business ratios. Most managers do not understand where the numbers come from and with analytics it will even get worse. Ratios and numbers that change with time without any clear meaning because nobody remembers the algorithm. That’s like being on the Titanic. The music is still playing, therefore it can’t be that bad. As of lately it was estimated, that of all companies using analytics, only about 40% of managers or employees understand what they are doing. That isn’t a too good ratio. If the numbers are wrong and management does not know it, they could be in for a surprise. (But hey, if a new product fails, managers now have a new culprit. „Not my fault, Analytics was to 89% positive, couldn’t help it that we happened to be in the last 11%“. And they can never be proven wrong. What a job security mechanism.)

But let’s look at the latest news from Mail Next. Kramer hints that about 60 % of all the stuff on mobile devices is mail and calendar. There is hope for a iOS based mail and calendar client from IBM? And Apple is doing the look and feel? Nice idea, isn’t it.
Somehow the whole story isn’t consistent, regarding Mail Next, Mobile First, Cloud first, Apple and IBM. For the mobile devices, IBM will have to build apps, which are „rich“ clients. On the other hand, there is no mention of any rich client on „traditional“ clients. PCs and Macs should go to the Mail Next web client.
Both IBM and Apple have rich clients for Macs and mobile devices. Logically I would think, something has to go. Apple will not let go of the Apple Mail client, neither on iOS, nor on OSX. Quo vadis Notes? Using Outlook as a front end, the browser plugin for Domino applications and the browser for XPages? That’s a three window hell (And it will not work for me anyway, since there is no browser plugin for anything on the Mac). A mail app from Apple, a mail app from IBM, two calendar apps and two „Notes“ apps. Does that look good for Notes on iOS or OSX?
But what about the applications? It would certainly be nice to have local Domino apps for iOS. Xpages could do it. Is IBM planning on an app for iOS for all these Domino applications out there? About ten million as somebody once estimated?
I don’t see the browser plugin come to iOS, but who knows, but if that app does not happen, Domino will be relegated to what every half backed migration expert out there thinks it is, just a mail server. On the other hand, if IBM comes up with an app for that, happy days, suddenly we would have a whole new market to play with. One, where nobody knows or cares about „Notes is Dead“ rumors. (And if it works on iOS, it could also work on OSX, which would be right down my alley). They just want apps that work and do not require a server farm at home for connections … ups, sorry, we are supposed to move to the cloud.
But again, I am just putting Lego pieces together and completely leave out politics.

Now there is another thing that came up in the last few years with cloud offerings. Today many companies outside the US like the idea of mobile first but not the idea of cloud first. In every webcast about IBM’s cloud offerings questions about on-premises come up. Every single time. Why is that? Do customers not trust IBM? The problem is not limited to IBM, every US cloud service, inside or outside the US, has to provide data to the US government on request (secret judge and everything). It does not matter if IBM (MS, Oracle or whoever) tells you, that the customer always knows where his data is. Neither does it matter if IBM firmly believes, that with its data encryption and with the customer only having the key, the data should be save from everybody. Nobody outside the US does trust it.
If IBM wants to shine in that market, the only solution is to sell (in selling and then they own it, not just selling the usage) the cloud software to european, russian, chinese, japanese, swiss and so on companies. These companies can set up the cloud offerings with IBM’s blessing and help, but no piece of hardware or software can be owned by IBM. There should not be any cloud or data contract between IBM and the customer. Only then, some more companies might be reluctantly be ready to move to the cloud.
(BTW, there is still an unused Yahoo data center around the corner. If anybody wants to set up a data center for anything big, Yahoo might want to be willing to sell. I would help to make it work).
Costwise IBM is in for a hard game. Cloud will become cheaper over time until enough players drop out. IBM will need a lot of money and breath to survive this and become a important player. But if you believe in the latest rumors, cloud isn’t the big money maker as the hype makes us believe.
IBM, how about the on-premises offerings? Probably Apple can help there to, how to make updates without anything crashing.
One big argument for cloud always is, from IBM’s point of view at least, the faster upgrade cycle, because IBM does not have to test on several OS’s and hardware configurations. If IBM would just sell the VM’s it uses anyway in its cloud, that wouldn’t be a problem anymore and we could all continue to use our on premises installations or move to the cloud and back without so much as a mouse click. They had them once. Where are they now? I know, some companies just don’t want shrink wrapped VM’s, but if the price tag is right, many arguments will just disappear into oblivion.
Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see where Notes and Domino goes with iOS… if they are really part of the package.


A View from Beneath the Dancing Elephant – another book

Now this book is different from Cringely’s. It was written by Peter E. Greulich, an insider. He tells the story of the Watsons in IBM and the impact they had on a positive corporate culture. Something inexistent today, as the author believes.
While Cringely relies on information he can gather from the outside, Peter E. Greulich has worked for IBM for about 30 years in various positions, including management. He has many interesting stories to tell, but the essence of the book is his grief with IBM’s current situation and how it came to it. For him it started with the reign of the white knight in the person of Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. who at first was his hero. Later, especially after changing the retirement schema, he started to feel, that IBM was going in the wrong direction. With Sam Palmisano, it got worse. Management started to use rules and tools, that were either incomplete or not understood. As an example he recalls Tivoli Configuration Manager. At first a game changing product, but for the lack of continuous developement it became obsolete.

The development director said, “TCM is a cash cow. Why should I spend money on a product that is nothing but pure profit?” He believed that products in this market were commodities with low margins, and should be left to others to waste their profits on. We never convinced him otherwise.

The cow in „cash cow“ is quite a good example for this. When you got a cow you have still to feed it and you have to look for a replacement – its offsprings normally – while the profit you make with the milk, pays also for growing (cash-)cow. But until the old cash cow becomes a poor dog (meat loaf), it is the duty of the product manager to push the poor dog as far in the future as possible. In the software business that means constant upgrades and enhancements and at least some marketing, until nobody has any new ideas (good ideas that is) to keep the milk flowing. By then, the rising star should be ready to take over and eventually become the next cash cow. That’s the ideal world and it does not always happen but still, Just abandoning a product, just because one thinks it good enough right now, without having the next thing in the drawer, is rather short-sighted.

The other story was with „Lean“, even so he does not mention the word. IBM used Toyota’s „Lean“ initiative in a perverted kind of way. The real „Lean“ wants to free resources by using everyone’s knowledge to eliminate inefficiency AND augment quality. The idea is not to find ways to fire people but to free resources to use them better. That’s one of the main principles of Lean, not to fire people. Greulich recounts how he lived through that time, when more and more of his friends disappeared and how that hurt his and others work. Key people were „resource actioned“ (fired), because that department just had a quota to fill. It works exactly like Microsoft’s performance management. If you have a bad quarter, you are a goner. Does not matter, if your family just died in a train crash. Or in other words, if you had Einstein, Newton, Curie and Pauli on your team, Curie probably would have let go, due to her morning sickness and the resulting slightly lower performance at 7:30 AM. With that IBM became even more inefficient and the quality dropped. To make up for the loss, IBM bought more and more other companies for a lot of money, only to bluewash and crush them. Small example: Nitix. Developing their own products ahead of time with freed resources from a proper Lean program, could have saved and made IBM billions (in the case of Nitix, IBM once had a lot more Linux developers). But that would have cost shareholder-value. Now that’s bad, if the friends at Wallstreet don’t like you anymore because you don’t fill their pockets enough. It might be a wild guess, but if you look a the prices IBM paid for some companies and the number of products that after a few years are still alive, one gets some doubts about that strategy.
This kind of senseless loss of manpower (today: knowledge drain), did not happen 20 years before, when Greulich had a hard time himself as a single parent with three small kids. His friends at IBM and his manager just helped him through this time and he is forever grateful. First, it did not hurt IBM, because the work got done anyway and second, Greulich committed himself even more. If that isn’t a win-win situation? And don’t tell me that isn’t possible today. Many companies all over the world show that you can prosper and accepting a social responsibility.*
The numbers are also different to Cringeley’s. According to Greulich, for every old IBMer (in the US, Europe and so on) let go, three to five Indians or Chinese developers were hired and still they can not match the quality and therefore the speed of the old team. Not even financially that makes sense. As a side note, many big european companies in-source again. Even Apple starts to build computers in the US. Do they probably know something IBM does not? None of all those companies do that because suddenly labor costs dropped below China’s, oh no, they do it because it makes sense financially. More money in the long run!

Worth a read? Definitely. It does give you a point of view of somebody inside. Cringely looks for sensation (that’s his job) and Greulich is just sad. Somewhere in the middle lies probably the truth, but all in all, the pictures match.

A View from Beneath the Dancing Elephant
Rediscovering IBM’s Corporate Constitution

by Peter E. Greulich

* One of the best example came from the union representative at Porsche during an interview at Le Mans. You can be nice to your workforce and demand that extra effort if somebody wants to work for Porsche. That’s the view of the „Betriebsrat„! In early days the enemy inside, today an important asset to the company. No wonder VW wanted one for their american workforce, because it pays off.

What is IBM missing? Larry Ellison!

You may like the man or not, he is extremely successful and does not like to loose at all. He might got used to it, in the last few days, because the Kiwis (Emirates Team New Zealand) are making mince meet out of Team Oracle, but the America’s Cup isn’t over, yet. But he did something right. He made Oracle THE NUMBER ONE in the RDBS market. No doubt there. IBM is trailing far behind with DB2. There is no question, both products are excellent, but IBM lacks a Larry. 
When you look back the last decade or so, you feel how IBM is slowly but steadily going down. It’s like a ship that every time you see it, looks a bit more beaten and nobody cares to do maintenance. A bit of colour here and there is all that is applied. The cook was let go long ago, to be replaced by vending machines. The engineers do what they can with a swiss army knife, because the tool box was sold to honest Joe, a car dealer in a distant port. The teak deck chairs were replaced with plastic ones from China and the nice woollen blankets with the ships name stitched on them, were sold to the paper mill. Why is this happening? Because the owners, a bunch of people not stepping on board ever, because they get sea sick, just want a continuos flow of cash. The captain is between a rock and a hard place. The last captain served his term and left the ship to the then first officer, in a already rather poor state. The new captain got to the helm with the clear order to keep money flowing, no matter what. What goes around comes around. 20 years ago, that ship run aground, low on fuel and overloaded. To make it float again, they got one of the best captains around, who threw half the staff and a lot of cargo over board (on the shallow side) and looked for new ports and work to do. The owners cheered and let him do it. After getting afloat again, a new captain came on board and suddenly this greed of the owners popped up. The rest is history. All that is left to the new captain, is go as long as possible and then run it on a sand bar, before it sinks completely. Then they call Half-Leg-John with Lora I-Like-Your-Finger the parrot and repeat the history of getting afloat again, but that will cost. It will cost a lot more then bringing the ship in the dry dock now, fix it and walk in all the hotels and companies, either small or big, in the area to bring in new passengers and cargo.
What has Larry to with it? He owns Oracle, not in terms of shares, but in terms of personality. It’s like Steven Jobs or Bill Gates or others. Companies flourish much better, if they have a boss who IS the company. IBM had that till the 60’s. Can you imagine Gini Rometty going with IBM as a sponsor of something like the Americas Cup? Just because she wants to win that old mug? Or keep it for the matter? Sure, Larry owns quite a bit of Oracle, but there is the same bunch of greedy owners, he has to deal with. But they follow him, because he IS Oracle.
Looking at the ship, what is really amazing, is the fans it has. Even in his present battered state, people love it, like no other ship. Unfortunately the owners don’t care a lot. More and more the fans feel the rejection. 
Have there been famous parties on the ship in the past, you may get a free pack of chips, if there is some outdated stock left and you ask nicely.
Or in other words, the recent development about the different conferences that are organised by a bunch of highly respected members of our community makes me sad. IBM gets a almost free ride and does not get on board. Oracle certainly does not have this kind of community and the IBM of today does not a lot to deserve it and it starts to show. I was shocked about the comments on the blogs that announced the opening for the Connect 2014 registration. Way too many said they don’t go. Apples developer conference is sold out in 17 seconds and IBM will probably have to fill seats with students. Once this was one of THE tech conferences, today it is just another one, and not even a sexy one.
There are just too many things I don’t get. Keeping the stock value high does protect the owners investment, but if this is just a new coat of paint, the rust underneath continues to grow. In the end, the ship falls apart despite a lot of shiny paint.
If the captain says, „that ship must be essential to the passengers“ I think he overestimates the importance of it. That only works if you want a monopoly. That would mean he has to sink the competition first. The passengers are essential to the ship! That is how it works in a normal world (I do remember somebody from that ship talking about locked-in problems with other vendors and how IBM will not do that).
A few decades ago, that ship was the queen of the seven seas, today it is just a ship among others and if the latter just do a better job in getting passengers and are nice to travel agents, don’t be surprised if nobody wants to board it.

You might don’t like what you read here …

… if you are from Microsoft.

There was a webcast about the end of Microsofts SBS held by Collax a few days ago. It looks like, SBS will be gone by the end of 2013. If you want to continue to use a Microsoft Collaboration product after that, you have to get Exchange or go Cloud. As we have all realised by now, the cloud kills the Business Partner – except if you go for the cloud yourself. On the other hand, that end of SBS just might be the chance to get more business.
Some of you who are as old as I am will still remember Lotus Foundations. An IBM product aimed at the SMB market that included Domino. The licensing was more like an enterprise server. You were allowed to run your website on Domino and you got the Outlook connector, too, until the later was killed. There were quite a few interesting tools in the works, which you were able to run on those boxes and from my point of view, it had the best backup and recovery system ever. As it happens, this site still runs on Foundations. Yes, I know, I should have switched everything to Collax by now, but you know how it is, as long as something just runs without making any troubles at all, one does not see the point really – except for the hard disk crash once in a while, which is almost a non event, because the recovery procedure is so incredible easy, that after a few minutes the network is back in business and two hours later you have already forgotten about it. Most of the time it took me longer to find out that the hard disk crashed, than doing the restore.
But, IBM was too early again. If they had continued just another two years, they could have  a winner by now. And here we come to another BUT.
During the Collax webcast they should the result of the yearly Techchannel „study“ about the most popular collaboration server products.
1. Exchange 2010
2. Zarafa
3. Novell Groupewise
4. Kerio Connect
5. Exchange 2007
6. Oracle Behive
7. Lotus Notes

8. Zimbra
Oh bugger. Even Exchange 2007 was racked higher than Notes and even Oracle Beehive. A product I have yet to hear something positive about. My point is, even if IBM wanted to compete with Microsoft in the SMB market, nobody would look. It might be that somebody at IBM always thinks, that if IBM so much as harrumphs, everybody just looks what great news comes from IBM. That, I am sorry, just isn’t the case. IBM does make a lot of money with a rather small number of companies, just those big enough to appear on the radar. But if you talk to anybody on the street about IBM it’s always the same. IBM expensive, IBM arrogant, „What? They still have Notes?“. The general public just does not take notice from IBM in the market.

And now comes this. Zarafa must have used an old one. May I present the 2012 Techchannel study:

1. MS Exchange 2010
2. Zarafa
3. IBM Lotus Notes

(They know about Notes/Domino. I think they write Notes, because nobody knows what Domino is)

While this still makes Zarafa happy, that should make us happy, too. But why did it happen? Anybody an idea, why suddenly Notes is in third place?

But since we are already here together, You probably have customers who want to keep their Outlook client, here is something to ease your pain, the Collax Groupware Suite. It has almost everything, that your customers need and more. Backup is there, a pretty good firewall with the best firewall administration tool, I have seen until today. Most users will never realise, that they are not working on a Microsoft server anymore and until the end of January, you get 15% of.
Should you have the need for high availability, you might want to talk to Collax about their Cluster based on KVM (proudly supported by IBM, Intel, RedHat and many more). There is the possibility to get a two node cluster for the Group Ware Suite with embedded SAN, but limited to two virtual machines for a very reasonable price … which means free (AFAIK). That’s probably the best offer ever, because the Collax virtualization is really cool. You learn to set it up in no time (I did and that’s a little wonder). If you move your customers away from SBS, consider to do it with high availability. Its worth it.
Since the limitation is for TWO virtual machines. Why not deploying a XWork Server for some nice XPages apps?

IBM Certified Database Associate … IBM titles confuse me

Last week I passed the DB2 10.1 Fundamentals exam (on second try, darn!). Now I am an IBM Certified Database Associate DB2 10.1 Fundamentals … and I somehow get the impression that this is a rather strange title. If I present that to somebody, does that ring a bell with them? Associate? Isn’t that rather a business title? If I ask myself, what I know about DB2, it isn’t a lot. I probably have a basic understanding what is going on in there, but would I let myself try my hand at a business critical application? NO WAY (and my whole family would agree, since I always broke everything, which isn’t true, but they had to blame someone … you know that situation, do you).
To make matters worse, I asked the course teacher what it was worth. Not a lot. Should go for the admin test.
IBM really has a problem with names. Not only for their products, but the certifications and internal titles are a bit strange, too. I once had a meeting with the worldwide sales and the global sales for the same product. What is the difference? The pecking order was Global – Worldwide. Does global include the moon?
IBM’s naming specifications must come from Germany. Their bureaucrats are very good at that, too. Don’t expect ever to understand a letter from a German agency. Go straight to a German lawyer. German bureaucrats do not speak German. It must be an ancient dialect of a papua tribe that never had contact with somebody from the outside.

Now, could somebody please explain me, what IBM Certified Database Associate means? Or did I just pass a week of brain splitting work in the DB2 boot camp for more or less nothing?

Red Pill Development … what a name …

You certainly think I am going to rip apart that name now, but on the contrary. I think it is pretty good. Here is why:

My first thought was: „Oh my goodness“ and then my marketing brain kicked in. „You idiot“, it said, „have you forgotten everything you learned“. Because I immediately start to think about it, it is a good name. Might it be good or bad at first sight, it sticks. It is really one of the best choices I have seen in a long time.
Choosing a name for your company is never easy. Informica for example, together with the ant works well with Italians. They get it on first sight. German speaking people … oh bugger. I had quite a few variations until now. But the ant works. We get at least high marks for that.
Notes911 wasn’t a bad name, too, but that works only in North America. Here we think about a Porsche 911 and in North America 911 makes you think about an emergency. Do we want that, if we want to sell high quality IT infrastructure? Probably not. But it sounded good and it also stuck on first sight, therefore it worked.
What I don’t like and think seldom works, are fantasy names, which don’t trigger a picture or history in the brains of most of us. There are examples out there, that are in everybody’s mind, but that would be despite the name, but most of them I just can’t remember even after ten times reading them.

Too many „blablabla it service“ or any variation of it out there.

What I don’t believe in either, are three letter abbreviations. They are often confusing.
Imagine an IBM sales visits a farmer and for him IBM means „Ideal Breeding Material“.
Yes, IBM is a bad example, because everybody knows it, but where I live around the corner is an electrical company called IBM. That has already led to confusions. Everybody thought I was ranting about IBM, but I was ranting about IBM.
Three letter abreviations or acronyms are just out. Forget it. They have all been used at least 10 times.
If possible, I don’t even use them in normal speech, because I am so often confused between IT, accounting, controlling and aviation. The later is very good at acronyms and if you ever talk to a bunch of aviation professionals, you might end up with a laughing audience. While you are talking about Virtual Machine Configuration (VMC), they’d rather be flying in VMC (Visual meteorologic conditions).
Red Pill Development – I wouldn’t use RDP, too many police departments with the same name – does not trigger any stupid or otherwise bad picture in my brain. Blue Pill would have, green, too, yellow not, pink … yes, would have. Even after thinking a lot about it, still no bad picture. And with the intention to modernise Notes applications worldwide, the  message works, too. But that’s just my view and since marketing is a very, very precise science (at least a tiny little bit more than astrology), try to prove me wrong.