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?


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.



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:


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:



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?

Premier Foods: Goodbye IBM Notes

April 30, 2015

United Kingdom’s largest food producer and manufacturer, Premier Foods, is dropping IBM Notes and Domino for Google Apps for Business.

… Premier Foods has made a significant investment in Google Apps for Business, dropping Lotus Notes for its 5000 strong user base. The motivation here was to increase the ability to collaborate across multiple sites, including 40 factories spread across the UK. Vickery says:

“The collaboration element grabbed us. We are working better because of the collaboration aspect. We’re using Drive. Choosing it for email was just the way in. Collaboration is changing the way that we work as a business.”

The fact that Notes was replaced by Google apps was exciting in itself and got users to take an interest in the potential of the cloud, he adds:

“The Google thing is interesting. Lotus Notes isn’t the most exciting brand in the world, so when you say, ’I’m going to give you the next release of Lotus Notes’, it’s not that exciting. Google however grabs interest.”

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Amazing Replication Statistics

April 27, 2015

I think there is something “wrong” with this screen. Can’t really put my finger on it, just that it seems to be “off” by a bit.


All I did was to replicate one database.

Ask the Experts session: Ask us anything about Notes and Domino Install and Upgrade – 07 April 2015

March 31, 2015

Mark your calendars.

Given all the security updates and Interim Fixes within the past year, we’ll present a short demo on the Notes/Domino JVM. Members of the IBM Notes and Domino teams will be on hand to answer questions via the meeting room chat as well as the phone.

  • Topic: Ask us anything about Notes and Domino Install and Upgrade
  • Date: Tuesday, April 07, 2015
  • Time: 11:00 AM EDT (15:00 UTC/GMT, UTC-4 hours) for 60 minutes