Thursday, September 15, 2016

See the Future You Want to See

IBM recently announced the continued support for Notes and Domino through the year 2021. As we transition to the Cloud, and Verse becomes more prominent, it is not surprising that we reach this apex.

Remember cc:mail? What about the IBM Notes Server? How about Microsoft Mail? Windows for Workgroups? Palm Pilot? Apple Newton? Yes, the technology landscape is filled with artifacts that were stepping stones to the great products we have today. Every generation leads to newer, faster, leaner (physical disk space size, ok, in this case quite the opposite!) improved products.

While it is still in beta, Verse on Premises is that next giant step forward. Does it include Domino? Just as much as Windows clients and servers rely on DOS commands. Built for the future it is the direction IBM is leading us. It is an exciting adventure filled with unknowns. Remember how Domino, the beta Web server, became THE Domino server and brought us into the Internet realm? 

Well Verse is doing exactly this and bringing IBM and its customers to the Cloud realm. So we drop a name or two and stop point releases, outside of your admins and devs, who need to know to support the system, does any user care what version they use? It is all about the Pokemon Go integration! Seriously speaking, it is about being up to date with security and integration points with tools everyone needs to get their daily lives and jobs accomplished.

Ok, maybe some older products will fall by the wayside, just like Domino.Doc led to Quickr which led in some ways to IBM Connections. Will Toscana replace Sametime? Will the new deals IBM made with Box, Cisco and Genband bring an end to the Sametime product line which I have been playing with since it was in beta back in the mid 90’s? I can’t say for sure, but I can see where the next generation needs to break free.

But life carries on, and so do we, as IBM customers, Business Partners, and IBM Champions eagerly await the next generation of products. Will they be based on SoftLayer and Bluemix? Maybe a new platform not yet announced? Will Watson really know all about your projects and needs and take care of them before you get to the office? I don’t know, but it sure is fun guessing isn’t it? It would be nice to know that when you start a new job your favorite candy is waiting for you? (Watson, remember, Candy Corn for me, thanks!)

I am currently attending, and speaking, at the ICON UK event in London held at IBM Southbank. Here, surrounded by the Big Blue Lovefest crossed with the Yellowverse of Lotus fans we are producing that green with envy feeling from people who wrote off IBM and Notes, to their sometimes regret. Haters got to hate, and as an Enterprise your choices are few, is it really in your interest to NOT look at what IBM has on offer today?

Box integration is nice, I am a DropBox user, but it is just storage in the Cloud. I see no difference between them for my purpose. I prefer to think that online storage will have a specific guideline so everyone can universally use it, similar to how SMTP works across all servers. Many people say “mail is ubiquitous”. If so, then why not use IBM Verse? Is it so against your mindset to be open to the fact that the IBM fresh out of school whiz kids are creating some future mail clients? In return people ask me why I don’t use O365. I answer, I have, and on a personal level, I may one of these days, but as a business, I don’t want an app that “just” does email and nothing else. I prefer not to have the chaos of 20 mini apps to do what I could get from one client and one solution. Now with the Cloud side this is getting harder than when everything was on premises. This is the conundrum the developers and futurists think about, how we achieve the full client experience, from a browser. Indeed we will come full circle and that new generation of client and integration is just starting to see the light.

My crystal ball is cloudy and the next few years, as the last few, are steeped in random acts of genius crossed with WTF theories. The end result will be smart, practical and integrated and anyone’s guess which product or solution will be the winner. I hope it is IBM. As I watch the IBM of old get younger and younger, they are working towards a better future for everyone and not just a Smarter Planet.

Monday, March 14, 2016

At Last

‘Cause after a while and a thousand miles, it all becomes the same... - Bill Joel
Once upon a time in his song The Entertainer about life on the road as a musician.

This is my 1,000th blog post under the LotusEvangelist brand/title/moniker/aura. I had planned to write this one December 31st or when the latest IBM Champion announcement came out, but I was a few blog posts short.

The early days, 2007 or so, I was blogging quite frequently but over the years that slowed down considerably. Last year I had barely a post a month. I could blame G+, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or just face a reality that one cannot write forever. It is not writer’s block but more likely I have said all I wanted to say on this topic. This of course is not true, but it would seem this way based on the data.

Many of my posts were about technical peculiarities and things I, and hopefully you, learned along the way. The ecosystem of Lotus, now IBM Notes and Domino, thrived because we all worked together to help it grow, collaboration at its best. The original belief I had that we, the experienced ones, needed to help the new admins and people who were not getting training anymore was what led me to continue writing once I found my muse for this blog.

The Muse was a lack of evangelism around the Lotus brand. Many Lotus, now IBM, technical blogs exist, but few theory or business related ones. In particular no one really wanted to engage the enemies of our livelihood. It was a role I had when I worked for Lotus and one which I desperately wanted to see the Tiger team and SWAT teams perform, but that never happened. Internally I know they published but it was the lack of external information which pushed me further down this blog of a rabbit hole.

There were 70 FUD Buster Friday posts which were way too much fun to write until there was not enough to really write about further. As Paul Simon once said, “I could see the writing on the wall”. Plus, to be honest, I don’t like the serial, “I have to write another Friday” post feeling, it goes against my free spirited view of life.  However, it is the best way to create a following, by being consistent.

Of course the other vendors also stopped publishing the hard core stuff against us. A few people, not many, asked me to stop wasting my time on these posts and yet many others ask if I will write more for posts and the upstarts they come across. Being an IBM Champion has caused me to respond to these maybe too often. I don’t apologize, they were written because I wanted to write them, not because I thought I needed to do so, or because IBM or anyone else pushed me to do so. The life of an evangelist is a double edged sword at times.

My blog also was used to help promote events. I tried to promote not just the many conferences and training events I was a part of, but some of the ones I never could get to as well. I tried to average 4 events a year to be a part of, and help, where, and when I could with other ones. My blog also helped me speak on 3 different occasions at SugarCon, the SugarCRM annual event.

Sometimes I wrote things I regretted, sometimes I wrote the most amazing posts and no one read them. What encourages readership is beyond me at times but I do know that timing is everything. My iNotes posts from years ago are still hit, go figure.

I had some fun posts, various holidays and quirks of pop culture and even discussions about the opera and live tweeting it. Yes, it has been quite a bit of fun over the years. The blog helped me become an IBM Redbooks Thought Leader with a Social Residency. I wish I could be a part of these further for IBM and help train the new people and also protect them from the zombieness of canned social media. Be yourself, some of you out there get it and you should be encouraged further.

Speaking of IBM Redbooks, there were various Redbooks I wrote or took part in writing. There were articles written for The View and Exams that I wrote. I would be remiss if I did not mention the Quickr Administrator book. All of these great things, and people, may not have come about if I had not been blogging and getting my name out there in some way shape or form. And almost all of this was before I was an IBM Champion too.

And now, now I believe it is time to admit that much of what I wanted to say has been said. Are there still things I’d like to post, yes. Will I? That is a good question and only time will tell.

My next project is taking shape and as it grows I will keep you informed but I believe it will take much of my free time and so I am not going to say this is the end, but I do not expect to post often and given the last year or so, I think I am being pretty open and honest on this point.

The friends, places and events which I have been a part of over the years are what give me hope for the future endeavors we all embark upon to shine the light of collaboration, trust, friendship and experience no matter what business, or where, we end up.

For the first time in my life I feel old. I go to events and realize I am not the average attendee age, I am the old guy in the room. I wasn’t expecting this to happen, not yet at least. The interesting thing is my peers and friends, and readers, are in the same boat. We see the new people coming up the ranks and some of them really are as good, if not better, than we were and are today. Some of us also only get better with age.

Blogging is not a young or old thing to do. It is an expression of creativity, or sanity check, which I have enjoyed. I cannot express my appreciation enough to all the people who commented, liked a post, met me at an event and shook my hand, bought me a drink or thanked me for being there and helping them out, or just encouraging them to go for broke, but keep their day job too.

It was, and is, worth it and I don’t regret more than 2-3 posts over all that time which I think is a pretty good ratio.

Last second words of Wisdom:
Don’t post Shit(but do write some fun posts), think about how people will react when you are being provocative, don’t dump on the hand that feeds you, be it IBM or any vendor, or your customers. Try to give credit to others when it is due, if you get great help from support please blog about it for their managers benefit(Yes, I know it is about the survey but I also know it lets the support people know we care).

I’d like to think I will write another 1,000 posts in time, just not wait 9 years again to reach the milestone.

No idea when I will see you next, maybe at the next conference, maybe in an airport passing through, but we will see each other again soon my friends.