Connect 2017: The Really Good

February 28, 2017

[Note: I was going to create one post on Connect 2017, but have decided it would be better to break it into sections. This is Part One.]

This was the first year I have attended Connect that I did not attend any sessions that dealt with IBM Notes and IBM Domino. Well, other than the forced sessions, such as the Opening General Session and the Technical Session. It’s not that I don’t want to know what’s coming, it’s that in my current role, I am focusing primarily on IBM Connections. So, if you were expecting something from me on IBM Notes and IBM Domino, this is not the place.

But, I will say this: Last year my team upgraded our Domino 8.5.3 environment to Domino 9.0.1 Social Edition, removed 95% of the IBM Notes clients in the environment by moving users to iNotes, and the remaining 5% of the clients are running IBM Notes 9. Applications? What can be moved to other platforms is nearly complete. What wasn’t moved in the first phase, will be moved, probably this year. Unlike a lot of places, we are using IBM Domino for (strictly) mail. And it’s all on-premises.

That said, I was very impressed with Connect 2017 as a person with an IBM Connections focus.

The Really Good:

  • Catching up with my friends in the IBM stack. This is arguably one of of the few conferences where I can see and talk with most of the people I consider “friend” in this space. Because it is the one large, international conference for all things IBM Notes/Domino, Sametime, Connections, and so on, it will attract the most people from around the world. Regardless of the name or location, they will be at this event. This year, it did not disappoint in this regard. Most of the people were here and it was a great week to talk to them in person.
  • If you haven’t, or don’t, travel internationally, this is the place to talk to your non-USA friends about world views. Sure, it’s a technology conference, however since I have known a lot of these people for quite some time, I do not hesitate to ask about Brexit, the current political climate in their home countries, or in the USA. It is a great way to experience the world from other perspectives. And as I respect them and their views, it broadens my view of the USA and the world.
  • There was a plethora of Connections sessions from which to choose. In fact, on Wednesday, I was double and triple booked during certain time slots. This caused me a lot of stress. Too many sessions, too little time. And no repeats.
  • Wednesday was the best day of the week. Many of the Customer Stories were presented on this day and they were excellent. There is nothing like seeing how other people overcame obstacles, integrated other business applications into Connections, on boarded new Connections users, and increased adoption, to get your enthusiasm to increase. There was furious note taking happening. Also, I introduced myself to several speakers, hoping to parlay the introduction into a more informative conversation in the next several months.
  • Also on Wednesday, there was an onslaught of Connections Pink sessions (see point #1, above). It helped that I was privy to a special meeting with Jason Gary, so I was able to miss several of those sessions, as I heard everything I hoped to hear, directly from him.
  • The Product Showcase was primarily focused on IBM Connections Business Partners and IBM Connections 3rd party applications and extensions. It was perfectly suited to someone like me. After working with Connections for several years, it’s nice to go into the Product Showcase knowing exactly what you want to learn more about as it pertains to your installation and culture. I think I was an “easy sell” to several vendors.
  • While there was a lot of walking within Moscone Center, it was primarily confined to the second floor.
  • The Opening General Session was a nice mix of customer stories, demos, music, and more. It seemed to flow very nicely from one thing to the next. I know that many were ecstatic that IBM Notes and IBM Domino were mentioned, especially concerning IBM’s continued support of the platform. For the nuts and bolts of that support, you had to attend several sessions dedicated to the roadmaps. I was missing from those sessions.
  • The featured speaker, Dr. Sheena Iyengar, author of The Art of Choosing, was an excellent choice. Appearing toward the end of the of Opening General Session, she wove what we had seen and heard, specifically Watson, Watson Workspace, and cognitive, into our current lives and choices. It was enthralling.
  • The Technical Keynote, hosted by Ed Brill, was just what we needed to see and hear. Chris Crummey led the demonstrations and, as expected, did an exceptional job using “real world” examples using real people and real situations, not some made up company with made up problems.
  • The Closing General Session, as usual, recapped the week. However, as is IBM’s custom, their featured speaker, Eric  Whitacre, a classical music composer, was outstanding. Ever since I witnessed Benjamin Zander in Orlando, I absolutely love music themed Closing General Sessions. I suppose it reminds me what I already know, I need to see more orchestras. While I love rock (the harder and more angry, the better), it is classical music that affects me emotionally. I think we all should seek out art that affects the emotions. Eric’s story was spectacular. But, as the session closed, there was no announcement of Connect 2018. No dates, no location. What 2018 will bring for this conference seems to be . . . unknown.

Wednesday was “Pink Day” at Connect, and in response to that, here is a photo of Jason Gary for your enjoyment or amusement:

img_2303

I think that Jason must use the same bespoke tailor as Mat Newman.


Goodbye IBM Notes: Australian Securities & Investment Commission

December 8, 2016

The Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) has completed a proof of concept using Microsoft Office 365, and will be moving their mail and applications from IBM to the Microsoft cloud.

Perhaps most limiting of all, it has left ASIC glued to its ageing Lotus Notes system and the capability of its platform lagging well behind that of other government agencies.

“There’s a valid reason for that. We’ve still got a lot of systems that run off Lotus Notes applications and some of that is held up because of the registry separation decision. Because we’ve got Lotus Notes applications we haven’t been able to get off the Lotus Notes email but we’re doing both those things in parallel now. In effect we’re getting off the Lotus Notes email while getting off the old Lotus Notes systems,” Bryant said.

Bryant was referring to ASIC’s new project to split its classified and unclassified workloads to make way for Office 365 email and cut a path to move off the ageing Lotus Notes systems.

This really isn’t groundbreaking news, but what I found most interesting is the list of approved cloud providers.

None of the Australian Signals Directorate’s panel of approved cloud providers, which includes Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Macquarie Telecom, Salesforce, former CRN Fast50 No.1 Sliced Tech and Vault Systems, have yet been certified to carry ASIC’s classified data.

Hmmm, there seems to be a missing “premier” cloud provider on that list. But, I suppose that if you’re leaving IBM products in the on-prem world, why would you consider the IBM cloud?

More >


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.

More >


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?


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.