Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Novell's Vibe collaborates differently for the better



I have been spending some time lately playing with Novell's Vibe which is in beta, you can sign up at the link.

It is far from polished or ready for prime time, but some interesting findings which I want to share with you.

Privacy is a luxury. One of things I always found odd about Groupwise was the way they enabled anyone to read and send email as though it was the originator. Nothing new, we have this in Notes too, but Novell took the view that it's not a security issue or a privacy one, if you know someone is doing this. Thus their view of collaboration is also not weighted down by security or privacy, compared to Lotus ones.

Novell is working to bring the Google Wave idea to some usage, but to me at least, it is still as confounding as Google's product. Maybe I am too linear and old school but the almost random items that fly past you in the stream/river(they call it the Biglist) troubles me. I was told there is an icon to let me know what is a private message but at the time everything appeared open.

Novell wants people to share information truly collaboratively. And I applaud that effort and look to Project Vulcan to bring some of this as well. But my original posting, or message is editable by anyone right now. That is just mind blowing to me. Scarily so. From the threads it looks like that will not be the case at Live date but needless to say that raises questionable ideas. I'd like to see my posts ask me if they can be edited or not. And I'd like to see items not be allowed to be copied, printed or forwarded or "bring in" someone else to read it. Funny thing was the developer I was talking with said they did not have these limitations/security in Groupwise.

Before you think I am killing on Vibe, I am not. It's beta, it needs feedback. It is rather fun to be playing with code that the developers are using and logged in to as well so they can listen and chat to me while I am experiencing the quirkiness of a new product. I can't remember the last time we had this in Lotus.

Also, in the grand scheme of consumer vs. corporate philosophy I think Novell has a perspective that IBM should think about. Are you writing a product that will foster or hinder collaboration? Is too much security and lock downs bad in this day and age? As an admin and speaker at conferences I know the pros and cons of this question well. I also see companies not truly recognizing the path they are on may lead to a down side where employees may not choose to work there.

While certainly there should be some security, the premise of true collaboration is everything should be open all the time to everyone. Not a place that has a public and a private side and then squirreled away secret rooms inside those. Thinking like a customer I would like to see better security on offer, even if clients do not use it all, than see less security available.

What will be of interest to me is how Novell deals with this product from a mobile device. Will there be a special app for the big3(Apple, Google, RIM) or will it just be a browser? Will the promise of 4G speeds make this work well or be bogged down?

The same could be asked of IBM and Project Vulcan. Right now the argument goes on about how to build traveler and support what and where. I am looking beyond these devices to understand the future and it seems no one really has a great handle on it.

I don't care about devices or OS, I care about getting my data to me no matter what I am using. And my clients ask the same of me. But I do care about privacy(Yes I use social media and location based programs but that is different from inside the company firewall privacy) perhaps more than security because in the end all systems will have their security methods but privacy seems to be the forgotten step child.

After all, BCC was created for a reason, maybe not a good one, but there are good reasons for it as well.