Monday, July 1, 2019

Can We Get To Work Now?

As you may have heard, the divorce from IBM of the Lotus Portfolio of products has come to a conclusion and HCL has come out the winner,

The value of the deal ensures a decent rate of return to HCL within 3 years(maybe earlier) based solely on Support and Services, otherwise known as renewals.

The efforts to stop the leaving and increase the renewals only adds gravy to the deal for HCL.

But many of us want to see a new land, we want to not just see people hang on, but new customers come out of the cold. This could be the start of a renewal for the product line, sure, few companies have done it, Apple being the biggest turn around, and we have to do it without Steve Jobs. Not sure if that is the vision, but it is a goal which I think should be on everyone's mind.

We have to see the world, not like it was, not like we wish it was, but as it is and how we can once again be useful to people. Yet, once again, daily, we will have to prove that a venerable product, it  never went away in 30 years while so many disappeared, still runs and can run many companies worlds.

Sure, Salesforce now does workflow and automation, taking our niche potentially, or at least trying to if you believe a $200 million software project in Salesforce is required to replace, and not fully, a Domino application. The limitations and costs of Salesforce are not enough to convince someone to drop Salesforce, to push on those is working the competitive tactics of old.

Embrace and extend maybe is the answer, but that would end up a Business Partner play, aside from HCL getting the APIs to place nicely.

Microsoft of course still worries about us, funny how old flames die hard but the old ways, do not work the same and a better play in the competitive space is needed.

Google/Alphabet still sucks at calendaring and while the focus from HCL may not be messaging, messaging still is what runs a lot of businesses.

Workflow and automation demand a solid, stable, secure platform that can be relied upon to work no matter what you throw at it and no matter how little you babysit it. Do you ever hear Exchange admins say they love Exchange? No, not really, but there are 100s if not 1,000s of people out there that will say they love Domino.

It.is.THAT.Good

Back to HCL Software and the future, while the dust settles and this 3 Billion dollar(Lotus bits)  startup creates logic where there was none, have some patience.

We would all like to see new commercials and marketing, but in a modern world, that doesn't cut it enough. If we really want this to succeed, we need to embrace the social media side, not just pay lip service to it.

We need to ingrain into people that MongoDB is only decades behind Domino in getting field level encryption in a NoSQL flat database.

And people treat that like news?

IBM would never let us go after this, but my hope is HCL will because if we don't bring the issues to the front, there is no press and no customers begging to come back.

Do we need new templates? Yes, and we need to find a way to make them flexible enough so customers can adopt them easily enough. I have some ideas in this space for another blog post.

Do we need to revise old ones? It wouldn't hurt, and these will help keep customers renewing. I gave my input already on the Rooms and Resources.

I have argued that to try to convince people to code with Domino is a hard sell, kids in college have never seen or heard of it. More importantly, the workforce is not what it was in the dawn of the PC industry.

Many employees are niche driven and not code happy, or even interested.

In the earlier days, those of us that wanted to find a better way or figure something out had to read anything we can find, play with everything, dig into stuff that even now I think about some of it was amazing.

But I don't see that spark in employees. The need to know more is gone, maybe because love of company went away over the last 20 years. If HCL can figure out how to light that spark again, we may be on top something.

I mentor startups and they listen to me explain long dead products that did what they plan to do and what went wrong so they can try to make a better way...while scratching their head why they never heard of these solutions.

HCL has the chance to do everything we have been begging IBM to do with the products for years. Now we just need to get on with it and be aware that the future is being built literally every minute as of officially 17 hours ago Grenwich Mean Time.



Thursday, June 20, 2019

SnTT - Rooms and Resources Accidentally Delete a Resource and the Reservations

Last week I gave a session where I outlined a bunch of things I would like to see in the new Rooms and Resources database template should it get updated.

Yes some things were just more defined views, but other things that would make it more useful to admins, and users, were also included.

Well yesterday I learned the hard way about some things I knew, but I guess had not quite gotten to fix yet. Let me explain.

One of my clients has some very full RnR databases, 1 per region. Sometimes, against my preference, names or very similar names, are used in different places.

Tasked with clearing some old rooms, I set out to do just that and get on with my day.

And, of course, as you may have guessed, I deleted an active room.

Very active room.

400 reservations active.

As I saw when the pop up asked me if I wanted to notify people. I said no to that, knowing I can fix this. Well a few hours later, here is what really happened.

Oh.Yes.I.Did.

Domino problems are caused by admins, truth (except for developer agents that run amok).

I say, no problem, go to trash and undelete it. No Trash View in this R9 template. Note to HCL, please add one. Go into developer mode figuring it would be in the hidden view.

No

Call client developer and ask what they think, SOL. Soft deletion was not turned on.

Damn. Thought we had enabled it after last issue, but maybe the template got written over in an update or a restore and maybe we had only set soft deletions in the database itself and not the template.

In any event, I was blocked this route.

Call restore team, can you provide me with a backup from the prior 24-48 hours ASAP?
Yes, no problem they said.

Great, restore completes and I go to try to get back the data and...it shows me what I see now, not what I should have seen for a day ago.

AGH!

Call restore team, ask how it is possible. Well replication was on, ok, try again, turn it off this time.

And get notification, go open it up, same problem!

Well now I am confused. Got the team together to figure it out, and it seems they do incremental backup sand logs.

I said I don't want logs just data.

And 3rd time lucky, I open it up and it is the old data. Perfect, I start to copy a doc to test that pasting it back in will work.

BAH! No dice, this database doe snot allow pasting of documents.

WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!

Call back the developer, ask how I, as the admin, can not do this. Well, she knew why and where to look to fix it. And now I will let you know because someone out there will read this after pulling their hair out.

Open the database in the Designer client and go to the views section.

Find the view you need to paste into, you will need 2 of them.
The first is the resources view itself because you need to copy back the deleted resource.
The second is the view of Reservations, by Resource so you can paste back all of the reservations you killed accidentally.

Once you have the view open, locate the Querypaste section as shown in the graphic below and REM out all of the code there and save it.



















Once you do this and reopen the database you should be able to paste everything back in.

Then run a Fixup and Updall to get everything cleaned up and reindexed and then test making a reservation that honors used and open times.

You learn something new every day, even after all these years.

EDIT: Adrian asked me on twitter about Adminp and Busytime. I forgot to discuss it, so here is what we did and what you should check.

Adminp at the customer is set to run on a set schedule, so it did not worry me, but you should go into the database and clear the delete request otherwise you will lose the setting in the names.nsf for the resource.

Busytime, I did not rebuild it because my tests showed it was working. Presumably because the dates/times had been in the database already and did not update but if you run into problems, you should follow the technote and clear the old busytime and let a new one start.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

NCUG Wrap Up and NOMAD for Android Beta information

NCUG is over,  and it was a very good event run by Hogne and the NCUG team here in Stockholm.

They changed the name from ISBG, which was LSBG, in an effort to jump start the regional user group again. They also let us know next year it will be in Copenhagen in September 2020.

The customers that came out for the event were almost all on R10, or will be, and most of them run Connections as well.

A truly great feeling to be surrounded by them all and talk with them about what they have done and are looking to accomplish in the future.

My sessions were both filled and everyone, including myself, left them with new knowledge and that is what these events are all about, meeting people and sharing information.

Sharing with each other, not being in fear of people hearing what you have done but trying to encourage and help each other, is what separates us from the Microsoft minds of the world.

Just like what made me fall in love with Notes way back when in R2.

For me it was never about the applications or even the mail, it was about the freedom if information.

The freedom to share information with people.

At a time when green screens still ran your world and anything you wanted was 6 levels of authority just to get a file, Notes was what I thought corporate worlds would be like when I finally got to work in a real business.

Thank God for Ray, Mitch,and Jim for bringing it out.

Richard Jefts spoke at length about the future, the vision of more applications, why Sametime is so important and how R11 will be the first HCL Notes/Domino/Sametime version. Once the divorce is final with IBM we will learn more details about the future which will be Simple, Secure and Intuitive.





We received word of the imminent arrival of Sametime 10,Limited Use Edition and what is part of it all.

Uffe Sorensen made it clear R11 will not be out on 11/11 in case you wondered.

Opening up Domino further to other vendors like Cisco, Salesforce and ServiceNow will help us extend workflow applications to a new world and a new time.

The recent NOMAD(not  to be confused with the R7/8 Nomad of Notes on a USB) for running your applications on an iPad or iPhone was shown off and discussed by Theo Heselmans (IBM Lifetime Champion) of the great Engage.ug conference using his wine application. We also had the opportunity to get in on the beta for Android of ti which would make me happy as I am an Android user.

If you want to be a part of it as well, go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XXBFP6N.
EDIT: Fixed URL, sorry about the typo

Adam Gartenberg from IBM, but soon to be HCL discussed Connections, the future is bright, the future is different and it all goes back to redesigning the UX and UI along with numerous other ideas from the jams and aha requests.

HCL is listening, and they are doing or will be doing. Not everything can be done all at once.

There were some partner sessions, there was a session on setting up Docker, Connections sessions, a user adoption strategy session, case studies and live code examples. In short, a little bit of everything for everyone. And all sessions were well attended.

Congrats again to the NCUG team and hope to see you again soon.

NCUG Session on Admin Hacks for Users and Your Sanity



Admin Hacks for Users and Admins Sanity from Keith Brooks

Aimed at New and Old admins. Focus on the Rooms and Resources database changes we have made over the years and ideas for the future of the template.

The Download of the RnR Template is here.

UPDATE: Paul Withers (Lifetime IBM Champion) let me know there is an Xpages RnR template on Openntf.org,
https://www.openntf.org/main.nsf/project.xsp?r=project/ResX%20-%20Resource%20Reservations%20Extended
It mostly added functionality for multiple events and other items including a longer than 24 hour meeting, for those asking about it.



My Flame Broiled Admins .png or the file itself is here.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

ISBG now NCUG My Session "Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me Notes Could Do That"


ISBG / NCUG Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me Notes Could Do That from Keith Brooks

This session was about how to make your case to get changes pushed through to end users.

How to talk to management and other teams to give users a better experience and in turn provide happier customers and fewer support tickets.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Engage 2019, We Came, We Saw, We Heard



I went to Brussels last week for the excellent conference Engage, run by Theo and Hilde with a supporting cast of dozens. Thank you for an excellent event and Dinners!


Not only was I speaking, I was looking forward to the discussions with the HCL team and seeing friends and meeting new ones in person, and learn a few things along the way.

Fitting to have the event at Auto World in Brussels. 100s of cars on display and names you recognize, many you would not, and that amazing smell of leather, wood, oil and gasoline. The same way some brands are long gone, while others have stayed with us for over a 100 years, so it is with Lotus, a part of IBM and now with HCL. Those that find their community, live long, and prosper.
Had to get the Vette photo
Ferrari Featured in my session
I love the Amphibian Cars

Lotus Yellow
Rolls Royce Silver Ghost Internal Technology Awesomeness

I spoke on Wednesday about the need for an affinity to one’s software and/or hardware solutions inside your company. Why does one need such affinity? Because the more we love something the harder it is to let it go. I gave the following example, while it is true many people lease a car and get a different one every 2-3 years, others will do anything they can to get their car of their dreams.

And you know what they do once they get that car?

They never let it go, they don’t exchange it, they keep it for a long time.

And this is where we are today, as we await the handover from IBM to HCL of the Lotus portfolio.

We heard, and saw, at Engage from HCL some details about versions 10 and 11 of Notes, Domino, Sametime, Traveler and updates on Connections and new products like LEAP.

I was in a few Domino administrator sessions, one from IBM Lifetime Champion GabDavis doing the 60 admin tips in 60 minutes and the other to close the show, Ben Menesi of Ytria and Christoph Adler’s (https://www.panagenda.com/) own session "New Domino Admin Features Sure to Spark a Lasting Love Affair with Domino 10 and 11". 

I learned or relearned about some items, no one can know and remember everything.

I strongly suggest you download both presentations once Theo posts them on the Engage.ug site.

My session on Tuesday included this Engage Jeopardy Edition of user complaints and how to deal with them. 
1 slide, the rest was a discussion
The session was not about how to solve the issues but how to work with your customers/users because we, as Business Partners or internal IT staff, are the ones that help shape and work with the affinity I mentioned above. If we do not take the time to spread the love, the end users really will not do it.

Luis Suarez also of Panagenda, put it quite well in his Community presentation when he said “communities are voluntarily started by people who find a common interest, not because management told someone to create a community” (Sorry Luis, I paraphrased).

Me and some cars from the room I presented my session
As I said in my session on Wednesday, if we do our jobs properly, and encourage people to feel empowered to use these products, we may see the reborn Phoenix rise again.

If we can help end users not see these products as something required by management, but instead tools to help them accomplish and see the great benefits to them individually such as time, data, accountability, and awareness then we have done our jobs well.

A different session I was in, again by Gab Davis, was comparing and contrasting Domino to Exchange. I have no doubt that Gab spent a lot of effort and time to reach a level of that session that was unbiased and educational to those of us that attended it.

A key point she raised was Exchange has many options for the user’s world, while Domino has many options for the Admins world. There were other points raised about the differences in logs and how to read them or find them, along with other areas that portray Domino in a bright light from an Admins view.

The Roundtables I sat in on were related to Verse on Premises, mobile, future template update ideas and the future HCL Masters and Grandmasters program, which is what some of us may become in the future now that we will not be IBM Champions.

Libby Ingrassia was in Brussels as well and reminded us, and I am letting you all know, that we all could be IBM Champions still just in a different area of IBM. Something to keep in mind for those of you that have already extended your wings to cover other solutions.

The sponsors included the usual suspects and I was intrigued by CYONE and their monitoring solution which they are giving a piece of it away for free and I look forward to testing it and possibly leveraging it with clients that I manage.

Lastly, I was the winner of one of the raffle items at the close of Engage. The OnTime team gave away a Bell and Olufsen H9i headphones and they are amazing! Thanks Jens and team! 

By the way, they have a new module out for OnTime that includes catering options for your Rooms and Resources, something which I think everyone would benefit from in their organizations, just ask your Administrative Assistants.

That’s it for me, hope to see some of you at Hogne’s ISBG event in Stockholm in June.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Shout IT Out Loud and The Engage Jeopardy Slide

My session from Engage has been posted to my Slideshare account.

We talked about creating an Affinity for our products with the customers and end users of our customers. It was a continuation of the previous day session I ran on Dealing with End Users


Shout IT Out loud from Keith Brooks

Working with customers we need to keep the end goal in mind, even when they ask any of these questions

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Next Week at Engage, Let's Talk About...



Engage is back, after last year's excellent event in Rotterdam, at the SS Rotterdam and my personal highlight, The Pinball Museum, Theo brings us to Brussels to AutoWorld.

I arrive Sunday and stay until Thursday so I am rested up for the event.

I will be looking for the mythical export only Corvette, a few exist, but I digress.

Naturally everyone wants to hear and see from the HCL team what is coming and how the new world will look in a few months. Hint, Yellow is big, HUGE, again.

For the rest of us, business as usual, we have customers, clients and management executives that need help, now, and with that in mind, I have been given the chance to present two sessions aimed at those of you in support or in need of some winning strategies to keep your Domino network.

On Tuesday 1:30-2:30 pm I will present, User Complaints and How to Deal With Them

I have put together a list/chart of the most common complaints and how to handle them. While you may scoff, in watching enough customers hep desk teams upset customers even more, maybe this session is what you need to see, hear and do more of. Just sayin'.

On Wednesday 2-2:30 pm I will present, Shout It out Loud

Guerilla marketing strategies for you to use against your incoming management and immediate manager, especially around annual reviews and "why do we use this Notes thing" commonly said by incoming executives. Theo suggested I provide tequila to encourage attendance, I prefer to think if you like your job, and want to keep it, you will show up. Let me know which is more important in the comments or via social media.

As always I will be available for anyone that wants to have discussions about admin things or how to compete against Microsoft, Google, and SalesForce or if you prefer how to integrate everyone.


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

SnTT: What if You Only Want Sametime, Meetings or Connections but NOT Mail in IBM Connections Cloud?

For years, since it was a wee little LotusLive, we, the greater Business Partner community, have told customers they could go to the Cloud one step at a time, or everything at once. Easier said than done sometimes. The hybrid or on premises decision, which IBM imposes on your organization BEFORE you start out, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Maybe your preference is Connections or Meetings or Traveler(well you could, not sure why you would) or Verse or Docs...anything BUT mail.

You see, mail is of course the big one, the main reason usually why people want to go to the cloud.

So when one of our clients realized a bit late in the day that they needed to do something fast for their Sametime servers, we suggested the IBM Connections Cloud.

Why build a whole Sametime infrastructure when you can have one permanently in the Cloud and updated all the time and it costs you less than a license fee a year? Seems like a good deal, right?

As someone who builds out Sametime infrastructures, this is much cheaper than having me build you one, that is, presuming you can or want to go to Cloud.

Well, it has been at least 3 years since I loaded a customer into the IBM service, while some of the process has stayed the same, the rest was a new thing for me. And now you get the benefit of my sleepless nights.

For this post, we will presume you have Cloud licenses, of some sort, either dual entitlement or purchased or some other IBM named license that grants you Cloud usage and access.

Once you request from IBM your login credentials (most people get an email about it when the dual entitlement went out, but easier to ask IBM to resend it then find it) you can start the process of setting up your cloud domain.

For this project, because we thought it would be a possible migration down the road we recommended a Hybrid approach. The truth is no matter which way you chose, the details below will work for you.

Once chosen, one has to detail the Domino passthru server name, ID, cert.id files, passwords, mail directory name, directory name itself, etc. and reach a point where IBM's server talks to your server, and with some DNS changes, everyone gets along real well. Note usually any issues at this point are Firewall and/or DNS related as we presume you know your Domino infrastructure and how to create IDs and passthru servers,

Now comes the fun part.

If you have a small organization(between 1-50), you may want to just create everyone manually, but when you are a few thousand people, that is not practical. Oh and remember this is WITHOUT email.

How do you do this? Normally when you register people, it starts the whole mail file and directory process, oh you can selectively add/remove parts manually but how do we bulk process people?

Well you will need to do a few more things with IBM before you start this process. Note to IBM, a nice flowchart of what to do, when, how for each option(Cloud or Hybrid) would be REALLY nice and helpful.

First thing to do is to request from IBM an Integration Server (about this here) account to provide FTP uploads of .csv files. This request, for a LLIS (Lotus Live Integration Server) account includes the steps as follows from here:
  • Send an email to support@collabserv.com with Integration server enablement request - Your Customer Name in the subject line. The email must contain the items in the following list. The first three pieces of information can be obtained from the Organization Account Settings page for your organization.
  • Organization name
  • Customer ID
  • Organization contact email address
  • Email address that is to be used to access the integration server. This account must already exist in the cloud and have the Administrator role. This account does not need a user role or any subscriptions assigned to it.
  • You can request additional email addresses that are to be set up as integration server users, as long as they are existing accounts with the Administrator role.
  • You are notified when enablement is complete and you can use the integration server. Note that your CSR might need several days to complete your enablement. This enablement account is known as the integration server user account.
Once this is done you will get a reply with details to login and set up your FTP links.

The MOM tool will not be used because that is for Mail Migrations/integration with the Cloud in case you were wondering.

Now comes the part that drove me crazy for a while, the .csv file.

You can read about it and see example pages here, here and here among other page of the documentation online.

Suffice it to say, because I know if you are reading this, and in the process of trying this, you probably said TL:DR for the documentation or like me tried it a few ways and felt like breaking a baseball bat on some tech writers head.

And to you, lucky winners, I am providing the exact syntax and details.

You need to understand IBM envisioned people only using Mail, or only using Connections as the primary reasons for moving to the Cloud so  there are actually 2, yes, two, .csv files you need to create to get any user registered as a Sametime user.

Got that? Neither do I but this will become HCLs issue to correct soon enough.

The 1st .csv needs to create the user, and thus a Connections account. 

DO NOT JUST MAKE A MAIL ACCOUNT THAT WILL NOT BE USED. IT WILL TAKE OVER THE USERS RECORDS AND POINT THEM TO THE CLOUD. 

You have been warned.

Here is what I did, you may have better luck with different ways to create the .csv file, but this is how I did it.

Once you get the list of users from the customer, you will need to break the list down to 200 people at a time. Why? Because that is what IBM has the system set to handle currently. If you put in 201, it will provide a failure report and not process. Again, you have been warned.

Open Excel and create a header row with each column for one item and they look like this, syntax matters so check the docs if you are not sure!
emailAddress  action subscriptionid givenName  familyName  language  timeZone  country

Details to be put in each column under the heading:
Emailaddress - put in the users email address
action - Add (Add is used for new people to be registered/provisioned, see here for the other choices)
subscriptionid - Found once you login to Connections Cloud and go to Admin-Manage Organization from the top right side, then click on Subscriptions from the left side and get the Connections
Subscription Entitlement ID


givenName - First Name
familyName - Last Name
language - en_US for US English (Language list here)
timeZone - America/Atikoka (This is EST, Time Zone list is here)
country - US (Country list here)

(Originally IBM also included password, but since the system automatically sends the user an email with a temporary password with the links to Connections Cloud and to change their password, we figured we did not need this option. If you think you need more options or more specifics in registering people, here is the complete list of field options.)

Sounds so simple, right? So you fill in the spreadsheet, then click Save As, find the basic .csv option and save the file. Oh, but you need a specific name as well, see here for more details.

Format of the .csv file name is: customerId_prv_seqnum.csv

customerid -  Found once you login to Connections Cloud and go to Admin-Manage Organization from the top right side, then click on Organization Account Settings from the left side
prv - leave as prv
seqnum - you need to go to http://www.epochconverter.com for the UNIX time that the file needs. Keep in mind all future csv files must have a time stamp after the prior one or they will not get read. A bit of a PITA but understandable for an automated process.

so an example might look like this: 22792279_PRV_1556820735.csv

Now login to your ftp client and the LLIS and upload the file. My efforts showed the file was picked up by the server every 7-10 minutes. 200 people would be registered in about 10 minutes.

Once the file is picked up, the ftp site will add 3 new folders to your login location, error, report and processed.

If all goes well your file will be in processed and your report will show a new file for each upload and a code of 463.

If it did not go well you will see your file and a trace file in the error folder and the report will tell you which line failed and why. Usually syntax, I had some cut and paste spaces in a few cases that caused me issues

Great, moving along now we need to create .csv #2 and get all these fake Connections users real Sametime accounts.

This one is much simpler because we only really need 3 columns:
emailaddress action subscriptionid

emailaddress - put in the email address
action - AssignSeat (this is so the existing registered person gets Sametime added to their account)
subscriptionid - Found once you login to Connections Cloud and go to Admin-Manage Organization from the top right side, then click on Subscriptions from the left side and get the Chat 
Subscription Entitlement ID


Name the file as above but change the timestamp and upload the saved .csv.

You can login at anytime to your Cloud instance and check the users have been created and have Sametime included in their options.
And that is how to register users that are not using Mail into Connections Cloud and you can do this for the other options or when you need to migrate their mail later on:Connections, Docs, Email, Traveler, Meetings, Verse, Chat

Good luck and remember, syntax matters!







Monday, April 1, 2019

Is Your Company #DominoForever or Exiting Stage Left?

A good friend of mine sent me a link to this post from David Giller and I recognized much of what he posted (crowd sourced) happens in all industries and businesses.

But for those on the cusp of debating "should we stay, or should we go", read on.

"Too little, too late" is what I hear and see from people and my reply is, quite honestly, well, there is not too little now thanks to HCL.

Too late is a relative term in an Enterprise. If you decided today to change your course, it would be months, possibly years for some of you larger companies, before you even took a step forward with a new partner or vendor to architect where you are going.

There is also the costs involved in any big project, and this would be a big project. Ask yourself, or your executive, do you really want to spend money on swapping one mail system for another?

A rough estimate I use with customers asking is, at a minimum, the cost to migrate will exceed $1,000 per user/email address moved.

The number doubles if you are big enough and need both worlds maintained in parallel. 

The number triples if you also "must have" coexistence so your calendaring and scheduling can work together.

And I did not even get to your licensing and hardware purchases, if you are not going to a Cloud solution.

If you are going to a cloud solution, don't forget the costs and time involved to get your security, Directory and single sign on parts to work and upgrade your telecommunications because that bandwidth is going sky high next.

Okay, enough scary tactics, feel free to argue with me, I am all ears to anyone who says I am lying. Maybe my numbers are off, if anything, they are low. Seriously.

Back to Mr. Giller's post, here is my SCNDT (Sametime, Connections, Notes, Domino, Traveler) version of some of them. You need to recognize and fix these before you face the end of the road:

  • No business teams are providing requests for new applications, if they ever did, and you find you are not being involved in the meetings about the future of business applications.
  • When was the last time someone asked, and you got approval, for application enhancements?
  • When was the last time you DID NOT SAY "give me a few days/hours I will come up with something". And instead explained to your boss how this would be a serious enterprise required application that should be on the next IT budget meeting. If your apps are not Enterprise need, your infrastructure is not either.
  • Your admins left or were moved along and it is now up to the help desk or the developers, if any are still around, to maintain the environment. Would you let the pizza delivery person fix your Porsche?
  • Rolling out SalesForce? ServiceNow? Not integrating them with Domino? You have lost a huge opportunity because you know what? Both of the former require a small army to customize it so it is useful. You already had much of this at your finger tips. 
  • Your company may say they want "best of breed" or the latest app in the Cloud, but you know your company and why that is probably not the safest most secure way to implement something that really could have been built on Domino.
  • Someone complains about the high cost of maintaining the Domino Infrastructure.
    • Ha, April Fool's, no one ever complains about the high cost of the Domino Infrastructure, except Microsoft and Google.
  • Executives say they want O365 but really have no business reason for it. the Outlook they use at home is not the same as in business. Directories and lookups, calendars, public/private information, multiple depositories for files are just some of the "functions" they have yet to use or think about. 
  • Look at the companies that tried to blame their problems on their email system and moved away from Domino only to die a miserable death soon afterwards or fall into a serious free fall. Hello Comcast, BlockBuster, and Qantas Airlines to name some famous ones.
  • If your executive that has backed SCNDT all this time is now shying away, or leaves, who you gonna call? I am available.
  • Have you tried to provide ideas for how your infrastructure could be leveraged to management? They are grasping at straws and need a light, no matter how small, to help them.
  • You hear about database bloat. Look, you are the admin or developer and you should be trying to retire a database a day, that is about 250 a year and no one will argue with you even if you say you removed 30, 50  or 100. Be proactive or face a negative reactive management.
  • There is lack of vision by the management to understand how to leverage the SCNDT platforms to streamline and automate processes – instead of simply replicating the same backwards manual way things have always been done….in Excel. And Excel, which is over 30 years old, is what runs many sales teams and finance departments. Just. Stop. It.
  • Some Microsoft tech complains about having to cover your servers when you are on vacation, you do take vacation I hope, and you don't try to educate them, you lose the best chance of getting them on your side. Remember, no one ever says they love Exchange.
  • Training doesn't exist. I get it. But you know what? Leverage the hell out of your intranet. Wiki, blog posts, status updates, if you are not posting something, then the executives think it doesn't exist and what doesn't exist, doesn't get funded and disappears. 
  • 1 great admin can manage a few dozen servers and between 1-3,000 users or more if given the right tools, for support issues and has minimal complaints and usually exceptional uptime. Learn your craft, read more blogs, go to user group events....The opposite of having bad admins is a sure sign the end is nigh.
  • Management thinks that Domino data is simply “ONE OF” the other systems that we have (resulting in siloed data being dispersed across multiple systems throughout the organization, making 360 degree reporting practically impossible). This one I stole from Mr. Giller's post because it is still true.
  • If your organization cannot articulate their current or future business processes and expectations in a way that makes sense to a normal person, you may have a problem.
  • Middle management is more interested in their job and budget than benefiting the company. Small mind = no advancement.
  • Not leveraging Domino policies, Panagenda's Marvel Client, or any of the configurable options that make users lives better. I have been told by clients that Notes "should look and act like other apps" so they do not enable all the preferences. My retort usually is something like "Tesla didn't build a car, they built a car everyone wants because they included options people want and need. Yes, this is public enemy number one of a reluctant IT staff to maintain Domino.
</soapbox>

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Rebellion Strikes Back

My apologies, this was scheduled incorrectly.

If you were not at the HCL Factory Tour Part 2 recently in Milan, you may not appreciate all the Star Wars references but, us being geeks, we go with the flow.

There were about 100-120 customers, business partners, and IBM Champions in attendance, many of us worn down from travel to/from Think in San Francisco barely 10 days ago.

We converged on the HCL offices in Milan, Italy with Richard Jefts and his crew of ex-Empire leaders.

We proceeded to have 2 full days, 3 if you stayed for Portal day (I did not due to flight schedule) of sessions. Myself and a few other IBM Champions were tired from all the learning. 

We are used to doing the sessions not attending so many in a row.
I messaged my kids at one point that I was reminded how they feel every day at school, been 26 years since I finished my MBA.

Nothing, was boring.

There was a track for technical and a track for Business. I skipped the developer sessions, I am sure my developer friends covered that stuff very well or will soon enough for your review.

Business partner sessions, sales sessions, HCL services, the future of the Champion program session, and some other ones I can’t really discuss publicly, as much of it is not written in stone until the deal is finalized and should properly come from HCL itself.

However, we did get to weigh in on many aspects and I think the partner community will be quite happy.

We also had the pleasure of walking around Milan on our way to dinner the first night, and as you can see from the picture below, we all did a group photo at the Duomo in the center of Milan. 

Thanks HCL for a great time and, my luck, got to spend time with Russ Holden at my table who now heads all Notes and Domino development (maybe more, but if you know Russ, then you know it is in great hands) and Richard also sat with us but, as the host, was quite busy.

So what can I tell you? Let’s talk about the current and future of Notes Clients/Verse, Sametime, Nomad, Places, Technical Advocacy (near and dear to my heart) and closing speaker @VoWe.


V10 highlights on the left graphic and Verse on Premises upcoming Features and you can read them on your own. 

An interesting highlight, for me, is while web browser apps will maintain all languages, Notes and Domino and on premises applications are going to lose some languages, including Hebrew. So if you are from a smaller country, you may want to verify there will still be a client in your language. It is a monetary decision based on licensing and number of users. I hope to change their mind, will see.

There was some discussion about a mix of Verse and NOMAD, the application to read your Notes applications(except mail) via a browser and not the old NOMAD of running Notes from a USB. Ideally it would be good but doesn't sound like a true panacea just yet.


V11 Notes client is shaping up. Plans are to do a release a year (YEAH!) and over time make it easier to update your clients. There is of course the Verse client that was meant to be light weight and the “future”, but undoubtedly, due to key customers, the Notes client as we know it, java et al, will continue on.

Not surprising, the UI teams efforts, while clean, were reminded that the, ahem, elder employees, need more contrast schemes. It looks a little cleaner, some things are getting reworked and less “html section” like so the UI appears to all be one window.

Sametime Update

There will be a release, the Limited Use V10 version out soon. As you can see below some of what is included but the main item is Persistent Chat is part of it. 

We will have to wait until the end of the year for the next full version of Sametime which will also be numbered in synch, and possibly emerge, at the same time as Notes and Domino 11.
 

Unfortunately we did not get the previews of the revised templates coming but it sounds like at Engage, in May in Brussels, they may appear. 

The team was quite surprised but our enthusiasm to see/hear and give feedback about some core templates in need of modernization and not just UI.

At the end of the 2nd day, Volker Weber gave us a history of Lotus coupled with his take on the HCL/IBM deal and future. Always great to see him and spend some time talking with him.

Overall, what I heard and saw was impressive. Yes some items are off limits until the deal closes but you can see the fun is back in people's eyes, something we have been missing for quite a few years now. Now to see if the tide can turn and give Notes and Domino a Renaissance like when Steve Jobs came back to Apple.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Hey You!


Yes, You! 

You reading this post. 

You have a job to do. 

Sadly I know from experience only 5% of you will follow through on this, but here it goes anyway.

If what we have been doing all these years in the Domino space did not change anyone’s opinion, why should it now? The answer my friends, is it can change, only if we change.

When I set out writing this blog, over 1,000 posts ago, I had started and stopped a few times while I found what was missing in our YellowVerse. The Evangelist. IBM did not, and in some ways still does not, provide the information people in companies today need to help them keep their jobs, and thus IBM hardware and software, soon to be HCL software.

The SWAT teams, the Tiger teams, the Men in Black (I was one) did not publish anything public over the years. They were probably not allowed (?!) and so it happened that IBMers told me to keep writing and doing more, because their hands were tied.

The only exception, was when Antony Satyadas ran his "Project Liberate", to compete against MS, which was really about price points. His efforts were the closest anyone came to really pushing back against the world and promoting Notes & Domino. Sadly that was short lived and in 2008 and 2009. As we know, the CXO never chooses a product because of functionality, and rarely on price alone.

So what do I want you do? I want you to earn your IBM Champion (hopefully soon to be HCL Champion) status by being the person that your company needs, wants and relies on, and not in an the usual administrator or developer type of way.

Your mission, and you really have no other choice but to accept it, as you will see, is to make every.single.person in your company know what Notes & Domino, Sametime, Traveler, Connections, etc. do for your company.

If you have Connections or Sharepoint it will be pretty easy to accomplish this task.

Stealthily or upfront, makes no difference, you can do this, and you will, we will get to why you should do this soon enough.

Afraid your boss will go crazy on you? You are making them look better, even though they will say otherwise. Tell them you are helping their cause by asking for more budget to support all the great applications.

Your peers will think you are crazy….until they “get it” and start doing it themselves for their own applications and areas.

You need to start simple, here are some ideas.
  1. What applications do you use inside your company that run on Domino? You may not even know what they all do. Look at your Domain catalog and get some clues. Ask people, look at the apps, if you have access, and think about these questions:
  2. What does this application really do for our company? Does it onboard people or make the process easier/faster, manage passwords, handle expenses, payroll, sales, marketing, audio/video, PR, manage executives calendars, etc.
  3. How much money does this applications make the company? There is a reason Fortune 100 companies still run Domino applications inside their world, because they are critical to their businesses.
  4. Alternatively how does this application save us money/time/resources? If not, you may want to raise a new project to your boss to retire some older ones.
  5. What applications could benefit from some new coding or UI/UX? Why raise the downside? Because if the app is so meaningful, it should be treated like an Enterprise application, not a back office cast off.
  6. Going Cloud or staying on premises can also get the same treatment because there is a reason you have chosen to go that route.
  7. Support ticket updates. This can be tricky but important. If you know that you have rarely seen repeat tickets from users, this is a high rate to promote yourselves as permanently fixing issues. You may see how many people you supported in a month, or a year, and realize your reach is much more than you thought.
There are unlimited possibilities for you to provide these “status updates” or blog posts or wiki details inside your company. Talk about the data, the business value, the greatness that you love.

Start with one item, alternate every week or every few days. Explain it in business terms and in your own way.

You will slowly get feedback, and followers. You will also get complaints and enhancement requests, both excellent feedback for you and your team. If you know how to respond to the complaints, do it, if not, ask me or one of the other bloggers or IBM Champions.

You may get known as The Notes Guy or Lord Admin or Domino Guru or Lotus Evangelist. And that is always a good thing for you. You may also want to share and discuss some of this with your IBM/HCL or Business Partner representative when the opportunity arises since they can help you further.

Here’s why, if you read this far…

Your job is at stake.

Period.

Every single day/week/month/quarter, maybe not now but down the road, if you don’t do the above “promotions”, your management, and your users, dream up ways to get some other product brought in to be used because they don't even know what they own or run.

Not fair? No, it isn't, but you need to fight back and find a way to get the word out.

If your company does get that far, guess who is probably out of a job? You might get retrained, but so far, from my view, that is about 25% of the time. Not good odds.

It will be hard, you will get flack, and you will think no one is reading it, and you might be low on the totem pole, but if you have tagged the posts well and sprinkle in some magic terms that relate to your company business, you will start getting noticed. 

Be prepared, don’t just say you were doing this for fun, or because I sent you, provide your mission statement.
“My job is to do the best I can for the company and encourage management in their efforts and by providing this data I believe will make us a better company”.
Or something along these lines.

No double speak, no BS marketing mumbo jumbo, no buzzword bingo, just straight and to the point.

Nothing hurts as much as an ignorant executive make a choice that may not be in the best interest of their company without pointing out to them what their business value is, and why they have it. They don't know, often don't care, and that is why this is so important of a task I assign you.

This is not a technical battle front, it never was aside from the early days because no one did anything like Notes. Yes, we have new goodies inside R10, and down the road R11, but those need to be put in business benefit terms, as I have written about previously.

So, are you going to save your job?

Going to be a part of the next generation of Domino applications in the world? Become an IBM/HCL Champion next year because of what you started this year?

Or going to live in fear forever.

Need help? Reach out to me through any number of ways from my blog or other ways. I am easy to find.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Why I Love Domino Lightning Talk

A few people asked so I am posting my talk as i had written it up on my 24 hour plane trip to Think.
I also did a 2 minute reminder for admins, developers, devops whatever that you can save/protect not just your job but your hardware or software by keeping management aware of what these things do to make or save you money. Your executives have no idea, nor care, until they can truly understand and visualize the correlation.

Lightning Talk Speech:

Imagine you are a startup, an entrepreneur, just starting out on your journey in business. What will you need on your journey?
Most people would say you need a company name, which then provides you with a Domain name which in turn leads you to an email address, right?
And now you are business right? Because an email address and a domain are a line in the sand showing you are committed to an outcome. Or at least a start.
But, not so fast.
You need to start booking meetings in a calendar, you need to start saving emails, phone numbers, sales, and other CRM related bits of information….and a spreadsheet is NOT THE WAY to run a business!
And of course you need something to sell, or you need a platform to build an application on, one that will work across desktops, devices and operating systems that you can sell maybe as a SaaS offering.
You also need a website, a blog, 613 social media accounts and how to manage them or interact with them.
Damn that is a long laundry list, isn’t it? And we haven’t even gotten to HR, finance, taxes, vacation days, company holidays, monthly reporting, let alone quarterly or annual reports.
And you want a platform you can share with your vendors, contractors, employees and make it easy to collaborate without having to login to too many places.
And of course security is paramount.
Maybe in the cloud, maybe on premises. Maybe hybrid?
And what if I told you there is only one solution that can do ALL of this for you, today and for the future?
Would you buy it?
Would you want it?
Would you use it?
Would you sell it?
That my friends, is the beauty of a Notes and Domino environment. You never have to leave it to login somewhere else, to synch this or that, to “add on” security. You can do almost everything from one little self- contained NOSQL solution + Adobe Acrobat and an Office suite. Hey, no one can do everything.
No other solution exists that can do all of it at once. No, it is not perfect, some parts do work better than others, it is not a panacea.
I know what you are thinking, if it is so awesome, why do people not use it? Well, that is a different talk. Talk to me afterwards or at lunch.
You know, I have rarely heard Exchange admins saying they love their Exchange server, how about you?
In contrast, many Domino admins say they love it and mean it wholeheartedly.
A majority of the Fortune 100 companies run Domino for apps that run their businesses. Think about that for a second. REPEAT IT!
In 2009 IBM said more than half were using it. I tried to find newer data but nothing definitive with % from 10-45% so suffice it to say, it is out there and people use it, even if users have no idea about it, just like Mac people run Linux. You all know your macs run Linux, right?
What happened really, was I was introduced to Notes R2 and fell in love with it immediately. Why? Because I could not understand why if I worked for a company, and this was a Wall Street bank, why information had to be so hard to get, find or use. Weren’t we all one big happy company?
And here comes this yellow like the sun, breathe of fresh air that says, hey, share information, don’t horde it. 1+1 can equal 3! I volunteered to be on the team managing the Notes server, as the server was called back then, and rolled Notes out to everyone. And it was awesome!
I still love it and am frustrated when using other products that can’t share information easily or need my data in multiple depositories. These apps aren’t sharing, they are hardware buying apps or in Microsoft’s case software buying.
You know Oauth? Please, we have had IDs and certificates in place from day 1 over 30 years ago. What a completely different internet it would be if we had produced a Federated Directory to handle millions of people’s IDs.
For over 25 years, I just turned 50, 7 days ago, my client of choice for personal use and business has been a Notes client.
We should be so lucky it will be around another 25 years. You and I should be so lucky to still be around in 25 years.
My friends, some are admins, developers, even general users, found something in Notes and Domino that works for them. Write some simple apps! Start with some out of the box basic templates then go to OPenntf.org and get some awesome ones!
Then make some changes to them, customize them, and before you know it that little app is running your business.
And what makes it soooo amazing is those applications live on, not just for a year or 2 but decades.
Sure, you DB2 people say the same thing, but no one, no one, interacts with your database, just your data in it.
With Domino, we get to create the UI, the UX, the world our users live in! Granular security down to the field level and multiple levels of administrators or owners and you have a very flexible, yet secure, environment.
Domino lives because of this security in many industries!
We don’t care what hardware you run it on! We don’t care what OS you want to run, we do it(some PM is going to kill me for that one)! We cluster it all, Windows and iSeries, Zseries, AIX, Domino doesn’t care, mix and match to your heart’s content.
We don’t care what language you need the UI in, we do it! Because that is how you get people to share and care about your product, you customize it for them or better yet, let them customize it for themselves.
I got my wish, I worked for Lotus because I loved the products so much and someone believed in me just as much.
Because it is not an easy fight out there and we needed a Lotus Evangelist then, and now more than ever.
Microsoft loves their silos, to them it is about the worker working, Sharing…to a Point and not open sharing.
Domino shares forever, which is the point.
Once you as the user start playing with it, you find you are only limited by your imagination, and coding ability, to really enhance your business.
My personal favorite part is how Domino monitors itself…and other parts of your world. You can tune your notifications to so many different things you can get overwhelmed at first but as you experience your environment you start knowing what is “normal”.

If you have interactions with other environments you can monitor your connections between Domino and them in most cases so if your Cloud server is down, you get notified. How awesome is that!
Your cloud vendor doesn’t bother to tell you, but Domino can!
Still not convinced?
How about this one….Spotify makes a big deal about taking your music offline with you now.
How cute.
Notes and Domino have been taking ALL of our applications offline from day 1. On a plane, train or hot air balloon, you can get your work done, without an internet connection.
Oh, and mail just happens to be THE MOST elaborate application that Domino runs.
Us Yellow Bleeders as we call ourselves, are rabid fans of Domino, just as you may be about your own Champion area. Everyone finds what they need and loves, some of us just found it earlier in life than others.


Friday, February 8, 2019

IBM THINK is Next Week, Here is How to Find Me

I fly in from Israel, via Boston, Sunday and spending it with my cousin's new baby.

I will see some of you early Monday morning at the Champion breakfast.

For those in the Champion sessions I will be giving a Lightning talk along with a few other Champions from across IBM.
Why I, and you, (should) Love Domino
9 AM - 10AM
Moscone South Level 3, Room 301

Wednesday morning I am presenting my customer Case Study, in an open format to encourage people to ask questions rather than talk about the good, and bad, things we did. Slides will only be used if you don't ask questions.
Session 4572A - Why This Global law Firm Does Not Miss Deadlines
8:30AM - 9:10AM
Hilton Union Square - Yosemite A

Also Wednesday I am part of a Champion round table discussion
The Cloud and Competitive/Evangelism Activity
3:30PM - 4:10PM
Moscone South Lobby
IBM Champion Area

Aside from these defined events I will be roaming around and the best way to find me is via Twitter (@Lotusevangelist), what's app/call me (ask me for the number), Facebook Messenger, or if you are in one of my workspaces, Slack.

I am leaving Wednesday night due to other plans in Boca Raton, Florida and I hope to see you all before I leave. If you want to catch me in Florida let me know..