Hello HCL (Lotus?) Notes – Bye IBM Notes

Well, that was a surprise … or not? From the beginning of the first IBM – HCL Deal, I wondered, what the point is. For both. Why would HCL take over the development of those products and let IBM do the marketing and sales, when – I think that most will agree – the other way round would have made much more sense. IBM s….. – ahem – wasn’t on top of the game selling Notes and also the other products, but it clearly had the brains on the developing side. They just did not use them lately.

Now what? C Vijayakumar (CVK), the CEO of HCL, is apparently not a Gini. He has been voted one of the best CEOs by some British magazine. So let us assume, that he knows what he is doing and he cares about HCLs products, not just the buyback of shares. In the often linked interview, he talks a bit about the deal, without mentioning a specific product. What he does, is talking about his 1,2,3 strategy and that mode 3 has the highest value for his company.
More about mode 3:

Mode 3 – this is unique to us and is about using the ecosystem to future-proof our business. Building a products and platform business, by creating innovations enabled by creative partnerships. The products are stable, long-standing products and we make them relevant for the new world. This is different from creating products from scratch. You buy the IP and see how you can modernize and make them relevant. A good example would be our work with Workload Automation, we bought the source code license from IBM and created a cloud Workload Automation solution which is very relevant in data centers, which are becoming hybrid cloud solutions. This strategy is working very well. We have numerous products in the pipeline, they are all traditional products but they are being reinvented to be relevant in the modern world. That’s the Mode 3 strategy, we not only have this on the technology side, we are doing this on the business functionality as well. We have a few things in the pipeline that we will announce shortly. We are building a strong products and platform business. This is an in-depth answer, but technically this is what is keeping us up at night.

Read the whole thing here….

It is HCLs strategy to buy products and infuse new life in them. If that works, happy days are ahead … I hope.
I can not imagine HCL just selling licences. They want up- and cross-selling. Which makes sense for HCL, but probably a bit less for partners.
CVK mentions a few numbers, 650m revenue, 5000 customers, 1.77 billion as a price, about half of it due on the conclusion of the deal.
Paying off 1.77 billion with 650m revenue over a not too long time, at the same time investing in new versions of these seven products, does not seem sustainable. The share holders agree apparently. After the announcement HCLs stock price dropped quite a bit.
CVK must have an idea, how he will boost revenue to a much higher level.

CVK said ….
It’s a mix of products, some of them are cash cows and some of them will keep growing,” Vijayakumar said. “Some of the products will need some infusion of fresh life to allow them to grow faster.”

Read the rest here…

Question is, which product is which?

Finding new customers for these products, isn’t going to work in the short term. First there have to be new and very, very exciting versions of the products, second there must be the very positive reviews and articles about these products, to make CIOs look in the right direction and third, HCL still has to convince companies to invest or even migrate. Not an easy task. Not many decision makers will change course again, after migrating to Exchange/Outlook.
I think there is something else CVK has in mind. That would be services, especially remote management. On premises hardware and software with kinda cloud management capabilities. IBM always wanted to go to the cloud with everything and never really made it and HCL might achieve something almost as good, by letting companies having their hard- and software on premises, but managing them remotely. That is an interesting approach for HCL and certainly something that appeals to many European customers, who still don’t want to go to the cloud. Especially not, if the cloud is elsewhere than in Europe. But will these customers be ready to pay more after waiting a decade for a new Notes version? The whole deal could work against HCLs, if it does not deliever enough Wow factor to keep all those customers who are not sure right now, what to think about HCL.

What does that mean for partners? At the moment, HCL must get the partners in the boat. They have the customers, not all and not the biggest, but many interesting accounts. Many good solutions come from partners. Many good ideas come from partners. IBM almost completely relied on partners, but will they still be needed in 5 years with HCL? As a partner dedicated to any of these products, it might be a good idea to get in the boat with HCL as early as possible. Actively working with HCL could give you an advantage as soon as HCL is in command. Waiting for HCL to get to you, could end in being left out. Think about it. HCL has to pay IBM for these seven products and the future development, which will be very expensive, too, because IBM just did not do that job for the last few years.
As a partner, you are either a part of the solution for HCL, or you are out. I expect the partner ecosystem to change quite a bit.
We will see soon enough, what is coming our way, but HCL Places looks very promising.

Yep, got the new certification

Since everybody does it, I had to do it. I am now …

IBM Notes & Domino V10 Sales Advisor v1

IBM couldn’t come up with a shorter name, couldn’t they? That will not fit in an acceptable font size on the average business card. What does a Sales Advisor do anyway?

Well I am getting old. I really find – and that is in now way a critique against IBM but rather the current hip way of certification – that thing with the badges a tinsy winsy bit childish. Will any customer or employer ever ask for the right badges? Should I put them on my business card? On the back for example? Or convert an old stamps collection to a badges collection to bring to my business meetings? Would „Can I show you my collection of badges“ qualify as sexual harassment? It would certainly get me not  any more dates than the „Kaffirahmdeckeli“-collection(*). I could live with just the certificate. But who knows, one day I may find a use for the first badge I ever received. Until then I have yet another account on a website I will with pretty high probability never use again – Acclaim. I am stupid.
Since we are on it, there is another strange development I never understood. Ten years ago, when you attended any conference you got a credit card sized identification with a clip you could attach to your shirt, skirt, blouse, west, shoe, whatever. Then they had the great idea to use these lanyards, but still with credit card size identification. I found that barely acceptable. The darn thing is always in my way. Normally I tuck it in my breast pocket.
Now some use postcard size or bigger identifications to hang around your neck. That’s insane. The name just takes up a fraction of the space, the rest is advertising for a company I normally know, because I am at their conference. I feel like a cow on the alps, but the bells have a purpose (fog, difficult terrain), A5 sized boards around my neck do not.

BTW: The new Gutenberg-Editor of WordPress is pretty nice.

(*)If you don’t know what that is, please stay ignorant. It is somewhat embarrassing.

And another one from „Microsoft Security“

I get these scam calls regularly. Most of the time I am not in the right mood and hang up, sometimes I let them talk until they come to the Windows Key, which I can not find on my mac. Today I was in a rather playful mood and when the nice Lady told me, that my computer informed Microsoft it was infected, I said „I know“. „How do you know“ she asked? „I wrote the Virus myself“. „It wasn’t a Virus, but your HD is infected“, „I know“ I said, „I wrote all that myself, that computer is made for it, it’s a honey top“. Unfortunately now she had hung up, but she sounded a bit perplexed. I think my answers where not in their book.
Yes, should have said „honey pot“, but I was so excited to get that far. With that good deed of the day done, – I might have saved an old lady’s egg money – I leave you to it.
Just one question: Do you get these scam calls?

Update: Had other calls from the same scammers. The nasty words they know, my my. One was speechless when I told her, that from my side the tests are done and that everything works as predicted and I would send them the bill now. At the end she thanked me for the information.
If I only knew their adress …

This changes everything …

I have thrown out one carrier and changed to another. I went from Swisscom to Sunrise. For all of you – especially those who have entertained us with horror stories from Germany – who now think that I am going to explain how horrific the experience was, it wasn’t. It just worked. I got an SMS from Sunrise, when I would be able to start connecting the boxes and from there it was smooth sailing. TV, land line and internet came online, boxes responded, phones got their connection. Obviously I have done everything by the book step by step (not something digital Neanderthals  like me are famous for).
I have thrown out three more boxes than I had to install and I had to replace a single wlan router. That trusty at least 12 year old Netgear, was replaced by a Netgear AC 1200 router and here is where a little rant starts.

Netgear, really, is it absolutely necessary that your Netgear Genie app installs in way the app starts automatically when I start my Mac? No it isn’t. That’s the first sign of crapware. The next sign is, that I can do way more things with the administration web page, than with the app (or I just can’t find it). Should it not be the other way round? It was helpful, when the web page was in an endless loop (!) and therefore it gained the right to stay. Otherwise it would have gone to the great cemetery of Bits And Bytes in hell.
I specifically bought this box, because it promised a high range. Well, my old Netgear lived under a cupboard and served internet with two bars under a layer of dust through the whole hut. The new one I had to place strategically on top of the cupboard, near the stairs to get enough strength. The 5 GHz is even weaker. Well, that makes sense since the wavelength is much shorter than the 2.4 GHz and therefore the range suffers, but still. My old router didn’t even have antennas, only annoying rotating LEDs I had to cover with a special cap, which was standard equipment.
Netgear could work on a setup wizard that does a bit more than just asking you to register with Netgear and downloads and installs that stupid app. I have the impression, that was my last Netgear product. I should have bought an Airport Express.

After a week of using the services I can say the following. We have more TV channels, especially we have now all the French, the German and more English channels, which is important in a in this French and German speaking household and it is more stable, it seems.
The Swisscom TV App for the iPad is more stable and easier to use. I have the feeling the Sunrise App needs a bit more bandwidth (or I have to blame Netgear).
The land line installation from Sunrise is better, except that I can’t not block phone numbers anymore. I would have opted for a FritzBox, if that was still an option, but Sunrise has its own box now. Pity!
The Internet Box from Sunrise offers more settings options.
Sunrise has more bandwidth for a better price.

But anyway, I want to thank Swisscom here and now for their service over the years. I especially remember the moment, when we forgot to pay my fathers phone bill after he died. Swisscom did not send the usual reminder, they sent a very personal and nicely written letter which stated, that they knew about my fathers death and where sorry to remind us, that there was still a bill open. Sunrise on the other hand was quite different. They sent three reminders and I sent, no sorry, FAXED them three times the death certificate and they still did not get it and I had to phone them again and again until somebody finally fixed it. Seeing how Swisscom changed over the years, I doubt that this thoughtfulness is still a thing, but it was something, I will not forget.

… and thanks for all the … Ed!

No, not fish. All the effort to keep Notes and Domino alive. Yes, I think that we have all the give Ed a lot of credit for.
This should not become an obituary. I wish Ed all the best for his future. I think he has earned it, to have lots more fun and success, than what he had to endure during the last few years at IBM.
I met Ed three times, but I doubt, that he remembers me. I have one of these faces people tend to forget in about 0.45 seconds after having turned their back. At most he remembers my comments on this blog.
Not to be outdone by all the other well-wishers that are lining up right now world wide:
Thank you Ed. It was fun as long as it lasted and now go for it and do something completely different. And who knows, you might even try your hand on flying airplanes again? With the Very Light Airplane category it got saver, cheaper and easier. Does not take any more b…s than going into the Alps with a Porsche 911 in winter. With the electronics engaged that is.

Another reason why I will always like Domino and Notes more than …

… other mail clients, because of the things I could do with it.
Once I translated the OpenNTF mail client to German and I added some features, like views with different categories. Sent and received for the same email address for example. I liked that much better than having to sort things manually into folders. Unfortunately, they broke with the Java views. I never figured out how to make them work with more than one categorisation.
I hate folders, but the big advantage of the Notes folders are, documents can reside in different folders. I had a function for my mailbox that added the same mail to different folders and left it in the inbox.
Or the integration of mails into Notes based CRM systems via embedded views. I used that on several CRM systems I either worked on or developed from scratch. Some people didn’t even use their mailbox anymore.
With what other mail client can you do that?

Why I will always like Domino and Notes more than …

… Outlook and Exchange

A few years ago I was at a partner conference about virtualization (yes, I can do that, too) and we where sitting in the bar. A few business partners with beer, so the stories started to flow. I was the only one that used and administered Domino, everybody else was Exchange. One after the other shared their horror stories. Completely f… up databases, crashes all over the place, backups not working, mails lost in the thousands. You name it, they had it. All I could do was listing, because my horror stories with Domino couldn’t compete in any way with theirs. The worst I had was a very slow Domino, because somebody (head of IT) sent a very funny .ppt file to everybody in her address book. It would have finally made it through, but the rest of the company could not wait another 3 or 4 hours. It was around 2003 and internet connection was still a bit slow. Otherwise I can not remember ever having to panic with a Domino server. Some crashed once in a while, but I never those ugly situations as my Exchange colleagues.

# Domino 2025 Jam – When hope rises and falls

My dear colleagues,
The Domino 2025 Jam is over and now what? We certainly get an interesting roadmap presentation soon and many of us will have hope, that this will change the tide, the game, turns the train around or whatever metaphor you like. I personally don’t know what to make of it. Many really good ideas popped up. Some of them multiple times. Some of them were pretty old and still hot. What raised my (right) eyebrow a bit were the many requests for basic functionalities in Verse. But these are details. I would like to look at the big picture.

I have had unanswered questions about the whole IBM/ND situation for years.

Why does IBM refuse to do even basic consistent end user marketing?
This discussion has been going on as long as I can think of N/D, but I want to know, why IBM does not want to do it. What is so bad about 101 of marketing? N/D wasn’t beaten by Outlook/Exchange because the later was any better, it was beaten through marketing. Aggressive marketing, I give you that, but IBM had all the time and resources to react to it, but never did. Why did IBM let this happen? Many things come to mind when thinking about it, but speculation does not get me the answer. So I ask you: Why?
PS: I don’t think advertising at airports is of any use. Painting the cabin of the airplane yellow and writing IBM Lotus on every available surface might help.

Why does IBM refuse to listen to the user?
The user-experience of N/D was never outstanding. It was OK, but many little bugs, limitations and peculiarities haunted N/D for years or are still there. The design is not modern anymore and some things are clumsy. Outlook has been used as a stand alone mail client forever, why wasn’t IBM capable to do the same? Technical reasons? Security comes to mind, but that could have been achieved differently.
What is it, that makes IBM think, the user is not the most important person in the N/D environment?
PS: No, I don’t think developers and administrators are the right persons to gather and filter the opinion of the end user.

What? No app store? In 2018?
That is also something I never understood. N/D is predestined for an app store. That should have been an app on the welcome page. What is it, that makes IBM not to want easy money? I would have tons of apps in there. Not everything needs 100 hours of consulting (Don’t get me started on the online buying experience of IBM. I’d rather have a teeth pulled. Why is nobody fixing this). Why is there no app store?
PS: Yes, I know that this may be a headache for administrators, but isn’t it all about making the life of users easier?

Looking at the big picture that forms in my mind about the last year, I don’t see a confident IBM. I had technical problems during the online jams. I had problems with the idea jam. Some videos I saw were not the quality one expects from IBM. Things feel sometimes clumsy, amateurish. What is going on inside the N/D group in IBM?

The HCL deal. Whatever I read, there is no convincing explanation, why HCL should be any better as IBM in writing code. Strategy and marketing (see above) will stay with IBM. How deep the strategy for the design goes is anybodies guess, but for me – sorry – that smells like cost cutting. But I should not jump to conclusions, therefore I ask you, what is the point of the HCL deal, if not cost cutting?
PS: The ex-IBM-now-HCL-developers might have more air to breathe, but what comes after the initial vibe?

The Idea Jam itself. Why is IBM doing this again and again, only to get the same answers every time. They vary only on particular problems, but not at the bigger picture. It has been like that for years. And every two years, when the general manager changes (and often the structure where we find N/D for the next two years), we get a hype and we all hope this time everything changes for the better. What is IBMs strategy for the next five years?
PS: Still, was a good idea, but why does IBM now hide the jam? Any secrets in there? Should we just forget it was there?

So, if you find these questions interesting, I would be very much interested in interesting answers to them.

And as a final note, I don’t know, if you all have the same impression as I do, but my gut feeling tells me, not everything will be great again.



What could have been, if …

Well, lately I do not have a lot to do with Notes and IBM stuff in general. But it continues to creep up on me. For a while now, I brood over what could have been if IBM would not have bought Lotus. Would it have been as dominant as Exchange/Outlook today? Who knows.

But now things have changed. IBM announced the partnership with HCL. I frankly would have preferred an outright sale of the whole collaboration stack – yes, including Connections – to somebody with a vision. What happened is the complete opposite. The outsourcing of development and services of a part – Connections may follow later if you ask me – to a company that has no vision. The „vision“, strategy and marketing rests with IBM. Seriously? The things IBM hasn’t really excelled in – a very polite description – will stay with IBM and the jobs IBM was good at, will be outsourced. HCL will probably do a admirable job, but I suspect they will eventually get a bit impatient with IBM, about the success of IBM’s strategy and marketing department. Which I suspected for years was either a ghost department or outsourced to Microsoft.

From the IBM point of view, where cutting cost is the only strategy, this makes sense. My business senses just tell me, this is just another in a long row of such decisions, where cutting cost is more important, than investing in growth. While I admit, growing with these products today, which have been neglected for so many years, is close to useless. It would take a lot of investment to turn that ship around and we probably would not recognise Notes/Domino anymore.

I have a suspicion. It was the only way for the ICS group to achieve the cost cutting targets without completely killing products. Would the later have happened, an avalanche could have been triggered, where even the most loyal customer would have pulled the plug.

While IBMers are doing the I-am-so-exited-about-this-news-dance (and some partners will chip in shortly), I can not see anything in the announcement that would provide confidence. While „dead by 2021“ will not happen, I am not convinced, that the agony will take much longer. When you read the announcement or listen to IBM videos, there is just „We continue to invest“ or „joint investment of both companies“. No number, no target, nothing that could mean that IBM would really change the way they did business the last 20 years.

IBM announced also the #Domino2025 project. Everybody can now give their opinion about the future. Well not quite: seats are limited. I registered, but I have little hope that I will be among the chosen ones. I am just not important enough. My only qualifications are being a developer of many applications on that platform and I really, really care about it. But I am probably not nice enough, either. Will we ever know what comes out of it? Experience says no.
We had that before and I hope that IBM threats us a bit more like adults. After all, thousands of blog posts and articles have been written by partners and customers in the last 20 years about what we expect from IBM.
Some of our colleagues have already expressed a strong opinion towards killing the client. But let’s stop right here with anybody else’s view, I will give you mine.

I want to steal what Team NZ said after the last Americas Cup. Let’s throw the ball as far as we can and let’s see how we can reach it.
What are the problems?

Old client that many users hate. Make a new one. One that runs mostly in the background. Let Notes-Applications be directly on the Desktop/Sidebar/Dock/Menu/Whatever. Treat them as individual Apps. The user does not need to see every App that makes up a whole suite like a CRM that uses multiple databases. That allows that the user to have his independent mail client. And make it fast. Real fast. Even faster. Let Outlook be a alternative but make a better mail client, also for iOS and Android.

Way too many different programming languages. How about Swift and Java Script only? Should do the trick.
In any case there should be just one way to develop for the client and for the browser.

Integrate MSOffice in a way that mimics Sharepoint. For years Microsoft sold Sharpoint as a replacement for Notes. Let’s make a better Sharepoint. That would mean, that IBM should bring new Apps included in the license.

Open it up to individuals. There are many out there that would benefit.

Make an App-Store. Many developers would like to sell some easy to use apps for a few bucks.

Cloud service for everyone. Even individuals.

A new Designer would be nice too. One that let’s you build also mobile apps real fast. Plugin for XCode anyone?
Give designers everything they need to build really good locking apps in the shortest time possible. That is key.

Even with every security specialist now groaning, let users build their own apps again. Once it was Notes, then they moved to Excel, because the admins did not like what users did. What is more important, a happy admin or happy users?

Ready-to-use servers including Linux. Yes, I think Lotus Foundations was cool. Had potential.

Complete overhaul of .nsf and Domino. Why not using a more modern database, like MongoDB?

Way too many products. Shouldn’t Traveller, LEI, Mobile Connect and so on, just be part of the whole thing? Yes it should.

Well that’s about it for now. Many more ideas where these come from.

You are not alone if Gamification does not work for you

I am really sorry. I am so yesterday, probably last century. I just can’t get the hang of gamification. I just don’t care about virtual buttons (and friends). I do have to rely on my own imagination to get enough happiness hormones from achievements. Ugly buttons just don’t cut it.
I just want to tell everybody out there, who can’t get the hang of all the gamification, fitness and health apps …

You are not alone!

The reasons why this will not change in the foreseeable future:

Just imagine the following situation: You meet somebody from the different gender (or same, whatever) you like and he/she tells you, that you look good.
Which answer will make you look better?

A: You think? Look I have all the reward buttons since 2011 here on my phone.

B: You think? I have started Kung Fu a few years ago.

I do sports that do not allow me to have a phone on my body. In Kung Fu anything hard on my body would be a risk to me and others. I even have to take of my wedding ring. It hurts, you know, if you hit something with it or get hit accidentally (no, despite popular rumours, this has not altered my appearance to the better).

As it happens, I just passed my third test. Another diploma for my wall of honour … which happens to be a box in a closet. Otherwise I would have all my office walls full of more or less important diplomas. That ranges from a Wings training course that takes an hour or so, to the biannual flight instructor refresher course (16 hours, 160+ questions and until recently a lot of strange paperwork), to all the IBM/IT stuff (has successfully sat still for four days without making to much of a fuss) and some academic grades.
While I do not frame every single diploma and nail it to the wall, I am still particularly proud of that last one. My trainer wasn’t sure at all, that I would pass. He was certainly more nervous than me, since he gets the blame afterwards from the grand master (who is around 70 and moves like a very young thirty year old). Since I am not a really nice person, I was probably a bit artificially stupid during the last couple of training hours. The relief in his eyes was worth it. But the real deal is, that I have achieved a goal. That there is a paper involved, that certifies this, does not really concern me, but the prospect of moving on and taking on the next step, this is what it is all about.

By the way, if you are locking for a fitness program with 1578 years of experience, try Kung Fu (Wushu or whatever …). It is essentially that. It is not so much about fighting. We do not fight. But be prepared to be frustrated by your inability to learn movements that look so easy, but it will improve your whole body. It literally does train every single muscle in your body. It certainly changed a lot for me. Lost about 8 kg and added some muscles. My meniscus is much better, but I still would not be a good catholic.

The other thing I do is mountain biking. I much prefer going downhill than uphill (this has something to do with a hereditary thing that gives me a headache). I doubt, that a health app can measure correctly the effort you have to put in mountain biking, especially on difficult terrain or when I have to push or carry the darn bike. Therefore the app is utterly useless. And since I rarely use the same trail twice, I can’t even compare the times. Not that I did not try it occasionally, but I always forgot to either set or stop the timer. I just can’t get the hang of being interested in numbers, which define my achievement.

Playing squash with a phone strapped to my arm? That would be the end of it, since once in while a wall is in the way.

A long time ago I was a freestyle skier. Moguls was the thing. It is still today. It’s the movement that is nice. Finding the perfect rhythm. Which is rare, by the way. It is still exhausting, though. Very. I don’t care how fast I can go downhill on a flat run (which is rather dangerous on some runs anyway, due to heavy and slow traffic and … boring … and carving is for the elderly. There, I said it). Therefore any skiing app that counts the runs I have gone down is useless. I don’t look for speed, I look for excitement (but not in the form of danger … well … sort of).

I will not even start about windsurfing.

Got it? One can do sports that are demanding, exciting, where you need all your body and your brain to achieve a goal, but any fitness app will be completely and utterly useless, because it can not see, what you are doing with your body. It only assumes you are moving in a certain way (all right, with the Apple Watch you can measure more stuff. Might be more accurate, still not interested).

I do understand that some of you out there are proud of what you achieved using these apps and rightly so, but I want to lift the moral of all those of us, who do not use that stuff. We can be happy (and healthy) without the collection of ugly buttons on a screen.
The same goes for gamification rewards in professional training. The diploma or achievement notification on a screen is not what counts, it’s the feeling of relieve that you finally got, what the poor instructor tried to hammer into your brain.


You now have my official blessing to groan openly, whenever you see another screen shot of a fitness app achievement page.