CIO: Can IBM redefine the future of email?

February 5, 2016

I was in the middle of the great email battle between Microsoft and IBM [Disclosure: Microsoft and IBM are clients of the author] in the 1990s and there really wasn’t much competition. Microsoft had Exchange, which had its greatest power in its focus on users. IBM bought Lotus to get Notes, which had stronger administration tools and a far better focus on collaboration, but sucked at email. In the end, Microsoft dominated, massively, and Exchange is the recognized standard for business email.

However, IBM just brought out Verse, its new advanced email offering, and it comes to market with many of the same advantages over Exchange that Exchange had over Notes. But, this is email, and experienced CIOs know that changing email is potentially a career-ending process. In order to succeed with a user-focused product you have to get the users excited about it, which may be a skill IBM no longer has.

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Outside Looking In: GURUpalooza and Ask The Product Managers

February 4, 2016

Through the wonders of technology, I was able to attend this year’s GURUpalooza and Ask the Product Managers at Connect 2016. I think it was an excellent use of Periscope and it also allowed me to better understand both sessions. After watching both, I have some opinions from this year’s editions.

First, and easiest, Ask The Product Managers.

Unlike earlier conferences, the combining of “Ask the Developers” with “Ask the Project Managers” eliminated the finger pointing between the two groups. That is, you attend either of the sessions only to hear one group say “ask the other group.” It was maddening.

Why is this still a thing?

It is readily apparent that nothing that is said by attendees is written down or “taken back.” This is extremely obvious when David Hablewitz runs down questions from previous year’s sessions (and by “previous years,” I mean several years. David seems to keep a running list.)  Audience members may feel better, after asking their question, but nothing ever gets done. It only gets people upset.

If I’m wrong, please comment where this is not true.

This is only one hour, at the end of the conference. Why is this not an ongoing, continuous feedback loop? There is a place for this, for example IdeaJam, but I believe that while the Developers/Admins/users of IBM products continue to add Ideas, IBM does not give it the attention that it deserves. And, again, there is no closure to the Ideas. Or responses from IBM.

The sheer number of IBMers on the stage is staggering. Taking fifteen minutes to go through introductions is a waste of time. Assuming that IBM has the right people on stage, just start the session and let the appropriate people answer the questions. Prior to answering the question, the individual could introduce themselves.

But, really, why is this session still on the agenda?

GURUpalooza

Many of these people I describe as friend. A lot of these people, I have known for many years. And, those on stage, have known each other for a long time. You immediately get the sense that they are all very comfortable with each other.

Which means that there are, and will probably continue to be, many things said that only those on stage (and a few in the audience) will understand.

As I sat in my chair, 1,000+ miles away watching the Periscope video, I became a bit uneasy with the number of “inside” references bandied about by the group. Why? To those not familiar with the people on stage, it seemed to me to build a small barrier between the guru’s and the audience. This is definitely not the intent, it was the impression that I got. Lord knows, they have sweat and bled to bring you the best technical track in any conference, and, being at the end of the conference, deserve some relief and laughs, However, not at the expense of “alienating” (poor word choice, I am certain) most members of the audience.

The other thing I noticed, because I’ve been around a while, is that basically the same people are the stage. I get it that Connect is the conference for IBM social software and to draw people in you need speakers that have been around for a while, have name recognition, have the power to draw people to the conference. What I am saying is, in a nutshell, are there individuals that are behind the scenes, that are the next generation of speakers? The ones that are going to take up the reins and blaze new trails on the shoulders of the giants? While it can take years to form the name recognition and drawing power of those on the GURUpalooza stage, are there people spending the time to become the new giants? Do we see them or hear them at the user group conferences? Thankfully, there are plenty of places for them to show their stuff.

It’s my opinion that while the administrators keep the lights on and provide a solid foundation for these technologies, it is the developers that actually have the power to show the relevance of that foundation. You have to have both, but the developers will drive demand, provide life to the products, and get others interested in careers using the products. Are there developer proteges out there, waiting for their time in the limelight? A succession plan, if you will.

You could ask me if I am doing the same thing on the Administration side. To that question, I can answer “yes.” As we experienced admins move up in roles and responsibilities, we are bringing in individuals whom we are training in the art of administration, so that they may take the reins in a few years. It only makes good business sense; you have to keep the mail routing and the enterprise social network rocking. Will they speak at conferences? I don’t know; it’s up to them. But they are getting ready to dominate administration tasks and for that, the developers and users should be happy.


Vintage Lotus Notes Version 3

August 27, 2015

Feeling nostalgic? Have space on your shelf for “just one more software program?” Perhaps this will do the trick, but act fast before it goes in the garbage.

LotusNotesVersion3

 


Modifying Groups From a Browser: A Problem Since 2004

August 21, 2015

The browser, I am told, is the future of office productivity tools. From Office365, to Google Apps, to AWS, to IBM SmartCloud. Everything is apparently going to the web. Including, with iNotes, Connections, Docs, and more, the IBM productivity portfolio. The web is the future.

Imagine my surprise, as I attempted to add members to a group in IBM Domino using a web browser, that this functionality is not supported. And there is an SPR out there from 2004 (that would be circa Notes/Domino 6.5/6.0.3) where this functionality has been requested.

Let’s take a quick look at how this manifests itself, using a Domino 9.0.1 FP3 server.

Authenticate and open your Domino Directory using a browser. In my case, that would be Firefox 40.0.2. Click on Groups, click on a group and open it. Using the Action Button to Edit the group, I see this:

groupweb1

The little dropdown arrow, by Members, will allow me to add/remove people from the list. Let’s click on the arrow and see what happens:

groupweb4

Nothing.

However, if you know the user’s hierarchical name, you can simple type it into the “Add name not in list” field. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that, right?

Or, another workaround, is to grant ALL group administrators Edit rights to the Domino Directory with the Group Modifier role. What could go wrong with that option?

SPR PFOI5XLGV9, linked to APAR LO01827, has been open since 31 March 2004. Which, as I’ve noted above, would be in the Notes/Domino 6.5/6.03 time period. We have had a few iterations of the Notes/Domino code since that time and still it is impossible to maintain Domino group membership using a browser.

In IBM’s defense, they have published a TechNote on this topic, Unable to open users dialog list when editing group in names.nsf with a browser, which is from 2008 and includes the 6.5 through 9.0 code stream. But we are no nearer to actually editing groups using a browser in a “browser-centric” world.

When might we enjoy this “basic” functionality? What else may be an issue?


Cringley Critiques IBMs Recent Earnings Report

July 23, 2015

In a post titled “IBM is so screwed,” Bob X. Cringely provides his analysis of IBMs most recent earnings report. Spoiler alert: It isn’t pretty.

An example:

IBMexpense

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Not My Code: Advice on Speeding Up a Domino Application

July 13, 2015

In preparation to upgrade our Domino environment to Release 9.0.x, we determined it would be a great idea to know how many Notes IDs we were missing from our ID Vault. A little Google searching, I discovered that two people at IBM created an application, ID Vault Database Scanner.

After some fitful starts to getting it to run, this past weekend I scheduled it to start at 1AM and run for 20 hours (I adjusted Agent Manager to allow agents to run for 1200 minutes). I felt that would be more than adequate time to loop through 22,000 Person Documents and the ID Vault.

After 20 hours, the agent stopped and had looped through . . . 1,598 Person Documents.

If my math is good, that is 1.33 Person Documents per minute. And, extrapolating from that data point, it will take, by my estimation, 502 hours (or 21 days) to completely scan both the Domino Directory and the ID Vault.

That is a lot of time for what I see as a “simple” task.

While it could be asked of me to run the application locally, I have tried that to no avail. In fact, within the documentation of the application, it does not allow for the application to be run locally. And, even if it did, I don’t think that tasking one workstation for 20 days on one task is a good use of an asset.

If you are a developer and you take a look at the code on the website, is there anything you see that can be done more efficiently? Something that will allow this application to complete within 20 hours? Yes, I did read the comments where it was mentioned that this application is slow. However, I didn’t think it would be this slow. I was wrong.

If you know of an application that can compare Person Documents with entries in the ID Vault and return a list of missing Notes IDs, I would love to hear about it.


IBM and Box: Partnering in Collaboration

June 24, 2015

Today, IBM and Box, an online file sharing and personal cloud content management service for businesses,  announced a partnership.

IBM is going to let Box plug into its analytics and security technology, while Box will integrate its content management system into Big Blue’s existing products.

For example, they will work on a new data analytics solution that uses IBM’s Watson supercomputer. Box’s technology will also be integrated into IBM Verse and IBM Connections, its business email and collaboration services.

They will also jointly develop mobile apps and analytics solutions. Box said some of that could even be included in the products IBM and Apple are building together. On top of that, IBM will use its massive salesforce and consulting team to sell it to its network of business customers.

Considering IBM deals with some of the biggest businesses in the world, it’s a huge deal for Box, which went public earlier this year.

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