Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Presenting Lotus Connections and dead silence

Today was the LCTY Miami event and for those who have not seen it yet, it covers the main points of Sametime, Quickr, Lotus Notes & Domino, Lotus Forms, Portal and Connections.
The IBMers in attendance and presenting were very helpful and Brian did a great job of demoing some items I could not(especially around Sametime UC).
Lotus911 was the sponsor and Jeff Kridder, Lotus911 COO, tagged me to present 3 sessions, Sametime, Quickr, Connections.

We had 20+ people attend and some lively discussion especially around MAC support.

In an interesting display of knowledge, when Jeff or I asked about Connections we got nothing. No one had seen or heard of it, or even looked into it.

A strange insight to what included 5 of the top companies based in South Florida.

What are they thinking about? How could we help them and let them know more? Perhaps I had failed in some way to keep people updated on developments at Lotus. As it turns out few had attended Lotusphere 2008 which also explains quite a bit.

Those of us NOT in a corporate setting can forget just how focused one can be when involved in the day to day of a business.

However more telling was that in a mix of admins, developers and business line or management no one had even tried to play with it or create a skunk works project.
What ever happenned to wanting to see what's new? Or having test labs for creative play time?
Maybe Google gets this one right, people should spend some part of their day on something not related to their primary task and see what comes from it.

I still get excited by new code, even if I can't always get it or load it immediately.

When did everyone else stop getting excited by this?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Long Live Lotus Workplace

Yes I said it and I stick to it.
Although not the way most people are thinking.

I was so happy to see it come out, finally an effort was being made to rebrand Lotsu Notes in some way, any way. How bad could it be? right? OK, so the technical side may have had some issues.

But finally someone in Marketing or Sales or Product Management at IBM or Lotus or Iris came up with the idea to rebrand Lotus Notes. If this was Mike Rhodin or not I can't say but hopefully this was the intent, although it seemed to everyone the Websphere people had a heavy hand on it.

You see, how many other products exist in the technology market place for nearly 20 years with the same moniker/name? Not many.

Microsoft is excellent at this gamne. IBM has not always been so good at it. Websphere was an excellent idea for a brand name for a half dozen products to be together and work, with some customization. Rebranding Lotus Notes or Sametime or Quickplace the IBM Communication suite or whatever thoughts really was not so helpful.

Microsoft reinvents it's own every few years or 2-3 versions. Looiing at tyhe client side alone:
Ms Mail? gone.
Jet mail? Who? Gone(check your Outlook and Exchange files and the updates to it's engine in EVERY version since MS Mail).
Exchange Mail 4,5,5.5 gone.
Outlook Express....gone but still in existence.
Outlook 2003 must still exist because few went to office 2007 or outlook 2007 without upgrading their whole infrastructure to Windows 2008 first and 64 bit too. W
Outlook 2007 may be the last time you hear about it.

Next up MS Live, Live Mail or whatever MS will call it. But I am fairly sure it will not be Outlook in name(although will be under the covers just as Jet and Msmail and exchange mail still run pieces of the Outlook client code.

The bottom line is if we want Lotus Notes and Domino to find a new base in a new era within a time frame web 2.0+ we must rebrand it and give up the name we so love and cherish.

Alan Lepofsky's recent post touches on this and it would be interesting to see where this goes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Failure was the only option

We interrupt the normal evangelising to provide a brief and lighthearted view of what can go wrong when presenting to your peers at an annual conference.

Way back when, I was turning 30 and Lotus threw me a huge party in Athens with all my friends and fellow Lotii. Actually it was the annual Tech conferene where everyone learns what's new and how to things on their laptop.

My team had been going trhough some rough patches and the last thing we needed was this event. But we got it together worked out the plans and executed.
Except my laptop was not having it. Beta code of R5 and some other issues created an unstable environmentthat just could not hold on long enough.

Sure enough 5 minutes in to my explanations around why Directory Catalogs are/were the greatest news I lost it all. Dead in the water. So what else could I do, I tried to walk everyone through setting it up on their laptops using my memory and notes I left myself on a sheet of paper.

Got horrible reviews, worst ever, but in the end had a number of people thank me for the explanations and help with setting it up and hitting the key reasons why it was important to get companies to use it. So all was not lost.

One again I learned you can not present on something you don't know well(luckily I did) because you never know what will happen on stage. You can give an opinion and some help but never ever present to staff or clients what you don't know because if you los eyour notes or laptop or slides what are you going to do?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lotusphere Comes to You - Miami and Tampa

Not likely to get any hits on this aside from the few in Florida but it needs to get out.
April 29th is Miami and May 6th in tampa.
Lotus911 guys stole it from me(actually IBM never gave me a chance). In truth with the holiday coming I owuld never have been able to do it properly so it is for the best.
Maybe next year.
Want to see us top 50 people at the events.
Miami is at the IBM Office on Blue Lagoon by Miami Airport.
You can register and find out more from the Lotus website for LCTY.
See you there, for more information email me or IM me on the Bleedyellow.com Sametime server.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Lotus Foundations Server SMB Sales Ideas

It thinks it can invade the SMB territory. Here's why:
IBM wants to encourage SMB to get off Microsoft Small Business server.
It's great they want them to go to Linux which is why they bought Nitix.
I applaud the direction of trying to put Domino on yet another Linux platform, and try to certify it for the Nitix distribution.
It runs Domino(basic mail server).
OK so it also handles Exchange, not everything is perfect.

Now, I am in the process of sending my Micro II server in an envelope back to Nitix.

I do want to remain a BP of theirs, I love the idea and presented a 1/2 dozen reasons why BPs should be selling this or using it. However I was told unless I bought a server I could not be a BP. Possibly I could buy the Nitix license and stay a BP. My instinct says IBM will revise the BP structure soon and we can revisit it then. So I decided to send it back anyway as I can not use it for anything and a new Dell PC costs $1,000 less even after licenses or if use Ubuntu nearly free from licenses.

6 Suggestions of sales ideas:
1) Backup solution for small businesses, Nitix promotes this idea, but I do not mean using it as a backup drive or tape offline, Imean as a backup hot swappable Domino server for an SMB or household.
2) Household server. Why would a LInux person buy this and use it that way? They wouldn't. But peopel who see themsleves as technical lovers, albeit without the true geekiness, would love to say they have a linux box at home doing x,yz. And their mail server too.
3) Use it as the Sametime server for SMB's. Or App server or Mail server.
4) DRP/BC "pick up and go" server. I'm in Florida, Hurricane central and the idea of grabbing my network and going someplace is very appealing to SMB clients, even larger organizations which know they can not take a whole server would like to take targeted groups or divisions information with them.
5) Trade show/Event staff who always need a server but really a 5-10 user one is fine and this would be perfect. No more prying a server from someone or always rebuilding your demos because someone took your server.
6) Home Web server. Moving forward a static IP address at home should be de facto standard(hello Comcast pay attention!)and so should the ability to have a web server running.

Unfortunately I also had some valid reasons for not wanting the little box to stay in our offices.

My main issue is the 5 user limitation. Which to be fair is a hardware issue somewhat but more a business decision as they feel beyond 5 users the box will perform not so well. I poionted out that it could and should be licenses to at least 15, possibly 25 in this condition although even I realize this would be an absolute maximum..

Sadly my pleas although stated to sales, marketing, technical and Lotus Execs for Nitix, fell on deaf ears for now. They recognize it isn't ready for any of the uses I had in mind and the IBM take over has put them in a middle ground which will take another quarter or 2 to resolve and produce some newer products. In addition to the capability of running Sametime and Quickr on top of it with presumably beefier hardware and RAM.

Looking forward to it in the future but for now it does not meet my SMB needs in the small form factor. Would love to be part of the internal discussion around this if anyone is reading this from within.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Why Microsoft is like having Sushi you didn't order

While making some sushi the other night it occurred to me that a Microsft infrastructure is like sushi in many ways.

You have lots of choices for the guts of the sushi, fish, seafood, vegetables, fruits, cheeses, rice, sauces, etc. And it all gets wrapped up(if you want a roll or handroll) in a wrapper of Nori which is usually seaweed or rice paper.

And so you end up with various flavors all sitting within or on top of the Windows Server platform.

Someone out there is going to make fun of me, but you kow what? I don't care.
Not all sushi is one type fits all or if you get salmon it must come with yellowtail as well.

Your network or infrastructure should be like ordering Sushi, I want nigiri or a roll but I do not want to be forced to have a roll because I ordered nigiri.

Microsoft makes you buy so many parts to just make an infrastructure work that it goes beyond a simple add on or 2 or even 3 to do the most basic functions. Discussed this many times, not going to rehash it here.

Next time you go out for sushi, think about it, your choices, your decisions, your feelings about it and then call up Microsoft and ask why you can't just get what you ordered or want to order, or for thast matter upgrade the way YOU want to upgrade your servers.

If you have problems saying no to Microsoft, evidently many people do based on the recent lowball offer to buy Yahoo!, let me know, we can help you handle vendor management and save you money too.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2007? Not so fast!

More happy news from Microsoft for those holdouts on 5.5.
Do they mean there are that many organizations still on it that they have to include it in this update?

Lotus didn't even bother saying R5 could upgrade to R8 presumably because so many clients were already on 6 or 7. Of course it could and does upgrade from R5, with some slight tweaking to your SMTP configurations and other similar pieces in some cases. And of course you can upgrade from a previous version to the R8 version in many ways, and it does not require setting up an interim network either!

What is interesting is the terminology.
Migration is now solely referred to when coming from an external mail system to Exchange.
Transitioning is from an older version to a newer one of Exchange.

Here is the link:

Upgrading to Exchange 2007
Applies to: Exchange Server 2007, Exchange Server 2007 SP1 Topic Last Modified: 2007-08-07

Important:
When transitioning to Exchange 2007, you cannot perform an in-place server upgrade on an existing Exchange server. Instead, you must install a new Exchange 2007 server into the existing organization, and then move data to the new Exchange 2007 server.

Important:
You cannot upgrade an existing Exchange Server version 5.5 organization to Exchange 2007. You must first migrate from the Exchange Server 5.5 organization to either an Exchange 2003 organization or an Exchange 2000 organization, and then you can transition the Exchange 2003 or Exchange 2000 organization to Exchange 2007.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

When did I find Lotus nirvana?

Actually it wasn't until many years later when I met Ed Brill and was about to present on R5 Messaging, with him and Mike Harer in Berlin for Lotusphere Europe in one of the main rooms.
That was the best and I knew it was what I wanted to do. Still is.

So back in 1992 or so I was working at Bankers Trust, now part of Deutsche Bank, on their PC Support side when they brought in 2.x of Notes for us to look at. I thought it was great, a non textual UI for email and connecting with people(always hated VM and WYSE terminals, and if you remember those and more.. never mind). Was part of the support side of it, from day 1(not much has changed) and it was soon after Lotus came and said wait for R3. So the bank did, I didn't.
In the mean time I left the bank for another bank for double the money(loved the early 90's), to get called back a few months later when BT was ready to roll out R3, but this time the network guys wanted me as they knew I liked the product and idea.
So off I went back, at more money again, and built 100's of OS/2 servers for Domino, then a few Novell ones, then Windows et al. I think that was also the first and only time I took a class on Notes, client or server.

In cleaning my files out recently I came across an ad from the NY Times circa 1994 from Lotus looking for people(note to self, scan it in and post). Needless to say the individual at the time never returned my interest and it took 4 more years for me to get inside.
I met the person while working for Lotus and told her the story, she probably still thinks they never should have hired me :-)

It's a funny thing, 15 years later to still be involved, and see so many others from the early days, even if it took 10 years to meet some of them.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Really going to Exchange? Have you seen this?

From Microsoft's technet forum, you know the site where they help you with your problems?
Redmond, we have a problem:
Go here for the whole article

How to Upgrade to Exchange 2007 SP1
Applies to: Exchange Server 2007, Exchange Server 2007 SP1 Topic Last Modified: 2008-03-11

"It is not supported to upgrade your operating system to Windows Server 2008, and then upgrade to Exchange 2007 SP1. It is also not supported to upgrade to Exchange 2007 SP1, and then upgrade your operating system to Windows Server 2008. To deploy Exchange 2007 SP1 on Windows Server 2008, you must install Windows Server 2008 on a computer that does not have Exchange installed, and then install Exchange 2007 SP1. "

So not only do I have to get another piece of hardware, but I can not do an inplace upgrade? Of either my OS or my email server.

And this makes perfectly logical sense does it?
A nice ROI and TCO....for Microsoft, not for you the customer.

Because last night and most days I upgrade Domino servers to R801. Takes not even 5 minutes from R8. Maybe 30 from R7 to R8 if that much.

That is ROI and TCO at it's best. Do I need any configuration changes, not usually and it JUST WORKS!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Forget Microsoft, Google's on the cusp

Following on the latest from Google, what if PostiniG is their leading edge?
Is Spam really such an issue? Doesn't everyone have a spam filter of some sort? Even at home? What are they getting to by ads like the one in March 24 Information Week issue with the "Messaging and Collaboration" section in bold. It is not about them, but a reference to some white papers they have produced over at www.informationweekreports.com.

Does SaaS make sense for email? Google of course argues it does. One of the Google White Papers even points out from 575 interviews of executives, 17% or 98 of them knew nothing about SaaS! There is an interesting discussion in itself.

Others argue it's a privacy issue or security and they would never do it. Why is Google(or any other SaaS vendor) better equiped to secure my data if every day we read about another failing bank, another credit card scam, more records stolen, laptops disappearing and other security issues?

Google, and most intenet companies are starting to realize that until the Star Trek transporter exists people will need to take data offline or off the grid or out of the cloud. Because right now you can not be online everywhere YOU want to be.
This may never change either. For some people they may never be offline unless on an airplane.

Friends of mine just took a cruise in the Caribbean and had cell phone coverage the entire time. They claim it's the first time the saw that in the last few years and they go on cruises 2-4 times a year.

Maybe Google really is on to something and we need to rethink our plans for our users and companies. I have seen a push for webmail and it means 20 years later I need to be an ISP again or 10 years later I need to be an ASP, except now I am called an SAAS provider.