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Duffbert's Random Musings is a blog where I talk about whatever happens to be running through my head at any given moment... I'm Thomas Duff, and you can find out more about me here...

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02/15/2013

So if you're a "Notes person", what would you want to know about SharePoint?

Category IBM Notes Domino SharePoint
It seems like every Notes/Domino/Lotus/IBM person has an opinion about Microsoft SharePoint. Unfortunately, most of the opinions that I run across are based on the ingrained (and incorrect) notion that Microsoft is evil, IBM Notes/Domino is on the side of the angels, and SharePoint sucks.

The reality of the situation is that SharePoint is alive and well in businesses worldwide, you don't build a billion+ dollar business based on smoke and mirrors, and at some point you're probably going to come face-to-face with having to either interface with SharePoint at a customer (or your organization), or actually migrate off your beloved Notes/Domino platform to something else (usually (and again incorrectly) assumed to be SharePoint).

Welcome to my world since 2009. I work at a company who started using Notes in 1995 and built a substantial portfolio of critical and valuable business applications on that platform. Like many other organizations, the decision was made to move away from Notes/Domino for mail and applications, and move to "something else". In the case of mail, it was Exchange and Outlook. In terms of applications, there's a variety of options.

I used to deride migration companies when they said that 65% of Notes applications in an organization are not used. I "knew better" in my company, and we were nowhere near that... until we ran an analysis and found that 65% unused/abandoned Notes databases wasn't that far off the mark. In terms of migrating, the key phrase is "off of Notes". Most people assume (and migration companies reinforce) that migration means "to SharePoint."  In reality, it means just what it says... "off Notes". If it's an old application that hasn't been used, that may mean you obsolete or archive the application (I have recommendations on that process if you're interested).  If you run Remedy, that might be a valid option for some of your retiring Notes apps. Same with Salesforce.com or a myriad of other platforms. Bottom line, the business wants to just shut off Notes. If SharePoint takes over that role, great. Salesforce.com? Rock on... Remedy? Start coding... It doesn't matter... Business just wants to shut off servers, quit spending maintenance dollars, reduce risk, and lower the overall IT cost of ownership.

Having said all that, I want to start a thread here to find out what types of questions my Notes/Domino colleagues have about SharePoint that they hesitate to ask about in "mixed company". No, I'm far from a SharePoint guru, but I have no problems telling you my opinions, thoughts, or "I don't know" based on the last four years of straddling the fence. I've told myself over the last two years that I want to start a series of "SharePoint for the Notes/Domino Professional" blog posts, but I always have something else to do that keeps me from starting it. But I had another person ask on Twitter today what I would recommend for learning resources for picking up SharePoint skills.

Fine... I get the hint, universe... step into this niche that's being dangled before you. Do what you've always done... share what you know, and make yourself available.

So, the comments are open. What are your questions about learning/dealing with SharePoint in your Notes/Domino world? Feel free to fake names and addresses. I don't need to know who you are and where you are coming from. I just want to spend my time answering questions that are being asked, not ones that I imagine people might have.

THE MAIN GROUND RULE (and it's my blog, my rules, and I will be painfully ruthless and unapologetic about this...)

This will *not* (I repeat... *not*) become a thread for defending why Notes is better than SharePoint or SharePoint is better than Notes. They both have pros and cons. If you step outside whatever evangelical or cloistered world you're in, you're in for a rude shock... Neither side is evil or righteous. In the end, it's technology and business. You may like and prefer one over the other. That's fine. But in this thread, that argument will not be allowed. This is to deal with real-world questions about real-world issues that affect real-world paychecks of people you've known and worked with for years. I will delete without hesitation. warning, or apology anything that even hints of "x is better than y" in this thread. This is strictly "what would I like to know if I could ask any question of a SharePoint person who knows Notes, and who won't judge or out me to my colleagues who think I completely and totally bleed yellow". I may have to summarize a number of questions under "I don't know". But the best way to learn something (as in me) is to figure out how to teach it to someone else (that's you).

And in parting... if you think I'm being overly dramatic about people not wanting to let others know they're looking at SharePoint, think again. Because of who I am and the openness I've displayed during my 17+ years in this community, people are very open about reaching out to me in private to ask questions that they wouldn't dream of asking anyone else (and not just tech. :) ).  I've held confidences, given honest answers, and helped people decide directions both on a personal and professional level. I don't take that responsibility and privilege lightly, and I understand the personal angst that it can cause. Been there, done that. But once you remove the peer pressure and look at things from a non-"evangelical" perspective, there are some interesting conclusions you come to. Yes, the IBM/Lotus community is *very* special. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have been so shredded and ripped up inside over the last two weeks of IBM Connect-o-sphere 2013. Most of you will never know the personal hell I've felt over what I felt was a "goodbye" (in terms of real-life face-to-face contact) to many who  have been my family and shaped who I am (at the absolute core of my being) during that time... my last blog entry, while open, honest, and painfully and brutally blunt,  still doesn't communicate everything behind it. But with distance comes perspective, and once you see the "rock star"/insider group of people in other communities (like SharePoint), you realize that the same sense of community and passion is not completely unique to IBM/Lotus. Yes, you have to work to get back to that same level of comfort that you enjoy now (but that took you xx years to get to and you've forgotten the pain and awkwardness that it took to get here). Welcome to what newcomers in the Notes community feel when they look at you/us. Don't minimize what the IBM community is... it's incredibly special. But don't be blinded to the fact that you can have that same sense of community regardless of the vendor name attached to what you're doing. Bottom line... it's the people. You know that, and you've said that. Now you have to realize what that really means when you carry it to its logical conclusions and implications. It's not comfortable, is it?

And with that late-night and somewhat Glenfiddich-inspired (and I'd like to think uniquely Duffbert-esque) opening, the comments are open.

02/02/2013

The traditional Lotusphere (now IBM Connect) event wrap-up (of a sort)...

Category IBM Lotusphere IBM Connect
Each year around this time, I try to sit down and write a recap of the Lotusphere conference I just attended. I guess I can say this year will be different, since the conference is now officially called IBM Connect. But for me, the "different" goes much deeper than that.

It's not a secret that I'm doing mostly SharePoint work these days at my place of employment. The Notes applications I've built over my years of working there are being obsoleted and archived. By this time next year, there's a reasonably good chance that no active Notes applications will be in use any longer. Of course, that's been the wish since 2009, but one person can only do so much when it comes to being point for inventorying, maintaining, shutting down, migrating, and otherwise babysitting 2100 Notes databases. As much as I'd like to learn and use XPages, it would only end up being a personal project for me. I won't ever see Connections, and everything else that IBM sees as bright and shiny these days are not targeted as something a sole developer would pick up and use on their own.

Bottom line... when it comes to IBM Notes and IBM Domino, I'm "legacy"... I'm "classic"... and to be blunt, that's not very far away from being "obsolete".

So why did I go to Orlando again this year? I'm not an IBM Champion for 2013. Speaking wasn't going to be a possibility. A vendor was kind enough to let me work for them at their booth in the Vendor Showcase (thank you *so* very much), so I was able to have the full conference experience. But why go to a technology vendor conference on my own dime for a technology that isn't my primary focus any longer?

I'll let Volker Weber sum it up far better than I can:

Connect 2013 was very emotional. Lots of folks are afraid of the future. "I wanted to see my friends one last time", that was the most touching statement I heard. Tearjerker.

Let me tell you something: life is about people, not about technology. Your friends will be your friends. And you will see them again. And again, and again. Technology changes, friendship lasts. In change, there lies opportunity.

The "I wanted to see my friends one last time" statement was mine. For me, it was more than just a tear-jerker. It bluntly and completely shredded and tore me up inside. For those who had the "pleasure" of saying good-bye to me on Wednesday or Thursday (or any other time, for that matter), you did not see me at my best. You saw a raw, emotional me. It was as if I had never taken an anti-depressant in my life. Not even Ativan (something I opted to try *knowing* I was not going to handle this well) made a dent. I knew this was coming. I knew the feelings were going to be there. I knew the emotions were going to be sitting on the surface, ready to make an appearance at a single word or thought. I even considered cancelling because I didn't want to say the good-byes. But ultimately, I knew I had to go. I couldn't drop the last seventeen years of my life by ignoring it. I know that I'll still see everyone via Twitter, Skype, etc. But that's not a substitute for sitting down with someone over drinks and having those deep hours-long talks that are forever remembered.

For those of you who don't understand Lotusphere, it wasn't a technology conference. Yeah, maybe it was in 1997 when I first attended, having a sum total of three months of Notes experience. But it was there I decided that this Notes thing was something I wanted to be good at. Reaching out to other Notes professionals, I learned what it meant to "be social". I learned how to speak in front of large groups, how to help others reach their goals, and how to be part of something bigger than the sum of its parts. It led to trips overseas, two books with my name on the cover with co-authors, and some of the deepest friendships I've ever had. Much of what I've become as a technology professional and a person can be traced back to a technology conference in Orlando in 1997.

Life *is* about people and not about technology. I'll probably see a number of my Notes friends in other venues, at other times. I thought Lotusphere 2012 was my last year. I guess this year was "My Last Lotusphere, Attempt #2". I certainly didn't go back for the latest updates in the IBM technology portfolio. I do care what happens in that space, and I am interested in where it goes. However, it doesn't impact me professionally like it used to. I'm traveling a different technology path now, one that for many years I labeled as "evil" and "the enemy". Perspective now tells me it's just a technology to solve business problems. It's the community behind the technology that matters. I am and will continue to make the same types of friends there that I've made over the last seventeen years with IBM and Lotus. It doesn't mean I drop the friends I made, as that doesn't change. It just means that those personal face-to-face times I treasured *so* much each January drift away.

So how do I wrap up IBM Connect 2013? It was all about people... my close and deep friends... and minions (you'd have had to been there). 2012 was not an easy year for me, and who knows what 2013 will hold. This last week was bittersweet in so many ways. At some point, I might even be able to talk about it without losing it, and without hiding behind a keyboard. I hate being so emotional, and I wish I could just flip a switch and turn them off. But unfortunately I can't, and I'm stuck with what churns inside.

Let me just say thank you for an incredible ride over the last seventeen years, and thank you for realizing over the last couple of days that sometimes hugs have to substitute for words, as words were just not possible.

11/19/2012

Question from a reader (XPages-related)... How does Notes get a document by NoteID?

Category IBM XPages
I received a question in my email the other day, and I wanted to open it up to the XPages community.  I think that the answer from a Notes client perspective might not be the correct answer given the XPages angle.  Feel free to leave comment(s)...

The question is: How does Notes get a document by NoteID?

It seems to me that it takes the NoteID and then compares it to each value in an internal list (index?) until it finds the document. This approach works fine if the database is small. However....I have a client that runs a database containing one million documents. Even at this extreme the user must only wait a second or two for the document to be found and opened, So it is still within acceptable limits. The fun really starts when you have an XPages repeat control that displays data from sixty documents. This XPage can take TWO MINUTES to open! Not so acceptable


I'm sure you know that the repeat control gets documents by NoteID to display. So the Domino server is receiving a list of sixty NoteIDs to find in the database. Now if the NoteIDs were represented in, for example, a B-Tree data structure then it would take only six matches or so to find each document. Instead it seems very much like the server is trying to find each one in a very long list.


I have gotten around the problem by moving the XPages application (including the documents accessed by the repeat control) to a smaller database. This is a bit kludgy but responds very fast to the user. But I'd still like to get some closure with this issue. I'd like to know what really happens in the black-box-that-is-Domino when you ask it to get a doc by ID. So far the IBM people that I've hit with this question have run away and hid. Not very helpful so all I can say now is......


help me Obi-Wan, you're my only hope


cheers

04/07/2011

Industry Leaders Worldwide Embrace IBM Clouds to Transform Business Processes (Press Release)

Category IBM
Industry Leaders Worldwide Embrace IBM Clouds to Transform Business Processes
American Airlines, Aviva, CARFAX, Frito-Lay, IndiaFirst Life Insurance Co., 7-Eleven


ARMONK, N.Y. - 07 Apr, 2011:
 IBM (NYSE:IBM) today announced increased client adoption of its cloud computing software and services with more than 20 million end-user customers worldwide, making it one of the world's largest providers of software-as-a-service (SaaS).  

New clients include American Airlines, Aviva, CARFAX, Frito-Lay, IndiaFirst Life Insurance Co.,
Shriram Transport Finance Company Ltd., and 7-Eleven among millions of users of IBM's cloud services focused on business process management and collaboration.

Organizations are increasingly choosing IBM to help them transform their key business processes in departments such as marketing, finance and customer service, and deliver them through the cloud for increased efficiencies and improved productivity and innovation.  

The demand for cloud computing is on the rise as organizations seek to expand the impact of IT to deliver new and innovative services while realizing significant economies of scale.  According to IDC, $17 billion was spent on cloud-related technologies, hardware and software in 2009. IDC expects that spending will grow to $45 billion by 2013. (1)

IBM has helped thousands of clients adopt cloud models and manages millions of cloud based transactions every day in areas as diverse as banking, communications, healthcare and government, and securely tap into IBM cloud-based business and infrastructure services. By offering proven solutions to unify, accelerate and automate these cloud infrastructures, IBM will help global organizations optimize their return-on investment from technology.  In fact, 80 percent of the FORTUNE 500 are using IBM cloud capabilities.

IBM's SaaS portfolio ranges from business process management to collaboration, social business, Web analytics, B2B commerce, supply chain management, marketing and enterprise systems management.   In IBM's new Smarter Commerce business, cloud services from Coremetrics, Unica and Sterling Commerce assist 36,000 marketers, manage more than 6 billion business/consumer interactions, and 1.1 Billion B2B electronic transactions per year worth approximately $15 Trillion of client value with nearly all the top banks, retailers and manufacturers in the US alone.  

BlueWorks Live Helps Company Departments Improve the Way They Work......in Seconds


An example of IBM's SaaS service adoption, BlueWorks Live makes organizations more efficient by enabling social communities to form around a specific line-of-business functions and automating simple processes that run over email in as quickly as 90 seconds.   Blueworks Live improves the way people work by helping them collaborate fluidly across roles, teams and locations while enabling all members to be informed of important changes as they happen.

"We were looking for cloud technology that was easy to use, rapid to implement and would provide immediate, tangible benefits for our key business processes within a couple of days, if not weeks," said Andy Kim, Director of IT Governance at MedImpact Healthcare Systems, Inc., a national pharmacy benefits management company based in San Diego.

In addition to MedImpact, many other industry leaders have moved their business process planning and improvement cycles into the cloud.   Companies as diverse as American Airlines, Aviva, CARFAX, Frito-Lay, and 7-Eleven are using Blueworks Live for a range of activities such as: blueprinting processes for use in training and orientation for employees; documenting key finance processes; capturing and improving process documentation such as audit and order-to-cash processes.  

The newest version of Blueworks Live, available for a free, 30-day trial, will debut at IBM's Impact Conference (
http://www-01.ibm.com/software/websphere/events/impact/), April 10--15 in Las Vegas.

LotusLive Delivers Social Collaboration Services to Organizations Around the Globe


IBM's LotusLive social collaboration services deliver easy-to-access integrated email, social networking, and third-party applications from the cloud, helping transform businesses. Joining the millions of users already embracing LotusLive include IndiaFirst Life Insurance, Shriram Transport Finance Company, Bumbu Desa and Lofotkraft.

IndiaFirst Life Insurance, an insurance company headquartered in Mumbai, India, has a branch network of over 4,800 banks across more than 1,000 cities and towns in India. With a large sales force, including office employees and sales agents scattered across the country, the company needed an easy way to hold essential business meetings without requiring all employees to meet in one location. Using IBM LotusLive Meetings,  top management, sales managers and the sales force can meet on the fly and during regularly scheduled meeting to ensure the sales force has all of the information to make successful sales, and to ensure monthly sales goals are being met. With Web meetings, employees can use the "chat room" feature in LotusLive Meetings to communicate with one another, and can share information and charts using the "screen sharing" feature.

Diners are flocking to
Bumbu Desa, an Indonesia restaurant chain, with new locations expanding into Singapore and Malaysia.  Growing from three branches five years ago to 38 branches in 2010, the different franchises of Bumbu Desa were having a hard time staying connected with one another. Using IBM LotusLive Engage for essential collaboration tools like Web conferencing, social networking and instant messaging, employees across the franchises can now quickly share information regarding new menus, new ways to greet guests, and other restaurant related issues. For example, each Bumbu Desa franchise can now submit their daily sales reports to franchise headquarters via file sharing in LotusLive Engage, a method that was previously handled using fax or overnight mail. Bumbu Desa is also embracing LotusLive's unique "guest account" model, which provides free-of-charge access of LotusLive to customers and other stakeholders such as cooks or food reviewers.

Shriram Transport Finance Company Ltd., India's largest commercial vehicle financing company, needed a better way to communicate with its field sales force. With 484 office and services centers and more than 14,000 employees and growing, Shriram Transport Finance employees and sales rep found it challenging to do with business with their clients and with one another.  While some employees had access to email, the provider was often unreliable -- emails were lost and performance was low. Shriram needed an email solution that could accommodate rapid growth and perform with speed and consistency. The company chose IBM LotusLive iNotes to provide all of its field sales reps with reliable, cost-effective and easy to use cloud email, which can be accessed on the road, at their desk and from their mobile devices.

Lofotkraft, an energy company serving more than 16,000 customer with operations in five branches throughout the Lofoten Islands, Norway, needed a better way to do business with key external business partners and vendors without worrying about security.  They also needed to better communicate with employees working in the different branches. Lofotkraft chose IBM LotusLive Engage to share files, manage projects, host meetings and chat with partners, vendors and colleagues. They have also been able to reduce confusing email threads and eliminate version control issues.   Because all the services are integrated and available from one single dashboard in the IBM cloud, Lofotkraft and its partners can easily collaborate and meet anytime, anywhere.  

For more information about Blueworks Live, please visit
www.blueworkslive.com

For more information about LotusLive, please visit
www.lotuslive.com

About IBM Cloud Computing

IBM has helped thousands of clients adopt cloud models and manages millions of cloud based transactions every day. IBM assists clients in areas as diverse as banking, communications, healthcare and government to build their own clouds or securely tap into IBM cloud-based business and infrastructure services. IBM is unique in bringing together key cloud technologies, deep process knowledge, a broad portfolio of cloud solutions, and a network of global delivery centers. For more information about IBM cloud solutions, visit
www.ibm.com/smartcloud

Source:

(1) IDC's Worldwide Collaborative Applications 2010–2014 Forecast Update: Market Poised for Slight Rebound Within Next Five Years (#224269, August 2010).

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