To kick off my shot as a guest blogger on InsideLotus, I thought I would share with you some insight into what we are seeing in the marketplace for Linux as a client environment as well as Lotus' response to this opportunity. A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to hit the floor at Linuxworld Boston. This was my first Linuxworld and with our new missions of the Lotus Workplace Project Office and Business Transformation teams, I thought it would be an interesting chance to see how the industry is growing first hand.
Having been in the software industry over 20 years, I find the Linux market quite refreshing. Linuxworld reminded me a bit of some of the Comdexes I went to in the early days of PC Software. Larger players are coming out in force, but there still seems to be a wild west feel and electricity in the air -- there are new fortunes to be made and new companies trying to establish themselves. As I toured the floor, I was on the desktop hunt to see whether Linux on Client was gaining momentum. I was quite pleased with what I saw. Several companies were touting Linux client, and I was impressed with the support and announcements made by Novell, Sun, Redhat and the OpenOffice organization. Sun was announcing a new release of their Star Office suite that looked very slick. One of the issues that we continually run into with accounts and Linux discussions are how they can support their Microsoft macros on Linux. Sun demoed to me some of their new macro translators, and I was very impressed with the progress they appear to have made. Next stop was to the Novell booth, where I got a chance to talk to them about their new desktop environment. It was great to hear Novell folks tell me that they have moved to Linux on the client for all of their employees and they have also moved 8 major accounts over as well. We shared some thoughts on migration methodologies, and I had a good chat with their services teams.
Next stop was the Redhat booth, where I got to take a look at their new desktop that is coming out in association with their Redhat 4.0 release. Redhat is focusing hard on the usability of the environment, and I was pleased with the work that they had done around file system representation and navigation as well as simplifying network connectivity. Not to be derogatory, but they are really focused on taking the Geekiness out of Linux. I fondly recall my days of UNIX shell commands, but in order for Linux on the desktop to gain traction it has to be easy enough for the account rep to download their latest sales presentation from a bad connection in a crappy hotel room on the road.....it has to work in the real world.
Of course, Art Fontaine and Nalu Reddy had our booth hopping. We had the Workplace Client on stage, and there was a massive IBM presence. This was a good show to cut our Linux teeth on for Lotus and Linux, and I felt very positive from the comments I got from other vendors, press and analysts welcoming our presence and our investment in this space....all definitely want us to be successful and feel that Workplace can be a killer app to validate Linux Client directions. To help communicate the strength on our commitment to this space, on Thursday that week we announced an investment of $100M across our software family specifically focused on Linux support. I got to do a few interviews and analyst meeting with Surjit Chana, our new Workplace VP, and I was very pleased with the positive vibes and support that we got from those we talked to.
So I left the Hynes Center feeling very good about our opportunities and the Linux path that we are on. It is still early days, but the pioneers are out there making their land claims and it looks like early adopter customers are willing to start the transition. Always on the technical forefront, I have just put my request in to the support guys to sign me and my diehard machine up for the journey, so there will be another Linux client convert in a few short weeks. I'll try to take some time in future blogs to let you know how it's going.
Till next time.....
Vice President, IBM Software Services for Lotus
InsideLotus - Lotus, Portal and Social Collaborative Software
From archive: March 2005 X
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I suppose I should comment on Microsoft's acquisition of Groove Networks and Ray Ozzie's ascension to the post of Chief Technical Officer. Certainly there was a little buzz in the corridors of Lotus yesterday (virtual corridors of email, discussion forums and Sametime chats for me since I was working from home). I'm sure there'll be "official" responses in due course but some ground-level musings are in order.
First there was a surprise factor: Microsoft hasn't made significant acquistions of late (or perhaps they have but nothing significant has manifested itself recently). Their previous investment in Groove notwithstanding, an acquisition goes far beyond hedging once's bets.
Second was the overwhelming human interest angle and that sense of wonderment that occurs when dramatic things happen to people you know or are vaguely related to. "Bought? Bought!" For me it was remembering the period a few years ago when friends and acquaintances were interviewing at Groove - back when it was a startup in stealth mode, and even the vague soundings-out about any potential interest on my part. Perhaps they would now be Microsoft employees.
Sidenote: hearing reports that the interviewers at Groove wouldn't even discuss the product that they were developing put paid to any incipient wisps of enthusiasm from me. Engineers, especially curious technologists like me, like to discuss platforms, designs and architecture. I'd be beyond handicapped without that kind of stimulation in an interview. Also, if I remember correctly, at the time I was on the most interesting project I'd worked on in my professional life. IBM was quite good at weathering those dot-com seductions with lots of challenging technology.
Third is a strategic angle. There's a sense of cousinry in the offerings that Groove, Microsoft and the Lotus/IBM portfolio straddle. Vague concepts like productivity, collaboration, 'groupware', shared spaces, presence, messaging, replication and offline-use abound, whether in marketing theory or in product practice. These are ideas that Lotus folks live, breathe and hopefully develop in software. Consequently there's a little curiousity as to how things will pan out in the future. The C.T.O. position seems somehow significant in this respect.
Lastly, and most important to me, is the technology angle. In the speculative marketplace of ideas that the technology world is, a track record is about the greatest currency there is. Ozzie can mint his own currency on Lotus Notes alone. Also he, along perhaps with Joel Spolksy and Tim Bray's Technology Predictor Success Matrix, has written definitive treatments about software platforms and ecosystems and how to husband them. I tend to evaluate all the software platforms and frameworks I encounter or create with these words in mind. It would serve everyone well to read (or re-read) Ozzie every now and then. How does your technology or framework-du-jour stack up in this light? And if it doesn't, what are your plans for getting it there, and how long will it take? I suspect that such questions will be asked a lot in Redmond in coming months. In grasping at answers, I have only one clear hint: this web thing begs to be internalized and, more to the point, duly leveraged.
Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah[Read More]
Tom Duff gets it. And so should you. Every Domino developer should go read his article on e-pro's website. As a product manager for IBM Workplace tools, I live this stuff.
We are trying to make developers more productive when using Domino tools, as well as allow them to expand their skills into J2EE - but only on their own schedule. IBM Workplace Designer will provide a smooth transition to J2EE and let Domino developers (and others with similar skills) build components for IBM Workplace - browser first, and Workplace Client later.
You'll be hearing more about Workplace Designer soon. In the meantime, check out the application development area on developerWorks.
Sr. Product Manager, IBM Workplace Application Development[Read More]
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At Lotusphere 2005, Dr. Ambuj Goyal announced in the opening session that ALL Lotus customers would be granted licenses for the hot new IBM Workplace Services Express. Today, the details of this promotion are now available on ibm.com.
This offer is available now in North America and South America (including Caribbean nations), Australia, New Zealand, China, Taiwan and Korea. It will be available soon in other countries; please check back for updates.
--Ed Brill[Read More]
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It's always gratifying when people independently grapple with the same ideas as you and come up with different perspectives. Even better is when this becomes a conversation such as the blogosphere can serve up and aggregators can monitor...
I've recently been ruminating about People, Processes and Things and so, I was immediately drawn to Joe Kraus, erstwhile of Excite and Jotspot founder, who delivers a wonderful essay and insightful presentation (PPT) about The Long Tail of Software. Read it for the concentrated insight and great care with which he makes his argument - borne of the practice he's gained pitching his company for the past few months.
Handwaving a bit here, he essentially takes on Barry Briggs' notion of The Decade of Process - anointing the primacy of processes in business, and adds the key insight of the necessity of lots of customization (since no two businesses do things the same way) and also that processes continually evolve. Then he melds it with one of the most successful memes in technology of the past year, The Long Tail concept, lovingly detailed in Wired, pondered in a blog and due, for a book, and triumphant tour ala Malcolm Gladwell or Jared Diamond real soon now.
Having seen great demos of Jotspot and the way it handles schema evolution, about the only thing missing in the product is an explicit addition of tagging and metadata ala del.icio.us for it to be buzzword nirvana. It's almost there. I'll try not to be too flippant nor indeed, something of an echo chamber, since I obviously think there's the kernel of a very powerful notion here. Annotating and customizing business processes seems to be an interesting space in today's software world.
Suffice to say that this bears attention especially since the venture capitalists haven't drenched this sector as yet. I'd hazard though, that a pitch like Kraus's could well be the spark that makes things combust, especially when there are so many memes to mine. The big integrators and consulting firms have long been in this space as have any of the platform vendors and they will be tenacious competitors. I'd hazard that Jotspot or SocialText are already keenly watched by those who do strategy and marketing, if only so that sales teams have a response ready for competitive bids. For larger businesses, it has always been ease of integration with existing infrastructure that matters when it comes to purchasing decisions.
The insight of the Long Tail though is that there are huge opportunities in targeting small and medium businesses, the kind that the big guys only pay lip service to. It's more than enough of a market even if you don't get the WalMarts. Incidentally, Paul Graham touches on this almost in passing recently.
All this of course is predicated on accepting the primacy of the "process" view of things, I've argued that the "people" view (communication and group-forming) might be another lucrative area to focus on, and a viewpoint potentially more exciting or motivating for developers. Tradeoffs like these are the stuff of engineers or historians, entrepreneurs or CEOs, however, have to bet on something.
Lastly, wearing my prediction cap, leverage will be everything in this oncoming scramble. Web-native software (i.e. software that is easily addressible and customized) will be the fastest mover in the space. The usabilty issues in evolving schemas and handling annotations are going to be the key differentiator. There should be lots of give-and-take in the software that ensues because real world processes are forgiving. There's always someone who knows how the process is meant to work no matter what the rulebook says. Our research folks and product development teams are going to be burning the midnight oil and that's a good thing. Kudos to Krause and others for the exhilarating glimpse of what is to come. Like Miles Davis said, "I love tomorrow".
Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah[Read More]
I don't usually like to do this type of competitive blog, but considering all the FUD that Microsoft has been dishing out lately with their "Notes integration" seminars and the previous "LotusScript is going away" blather, I've been pushed to the edge.
Microsoft will soon stop official support for Visual Basic 6, at the end of March. To be fair, it is the free support that is ending, the product itself will be supported for some time to come meaning that your apps will continue to run on Windows, but the development environment will not be updated - i.e. no VB7 is forthcoming as of this writing.
Recently, there has been an outcry by a group of developers that was reported in various online trade mags, including in eWeek here and here, and Cnet. They've realized that VB.Net isn't really VB at all, and that the migration path isn't all that smooth. VB.Net isn't just an upgrade to VB6 - it's a rip and replace. While Microsoft has an impressive set of documentation on their website about migration to .Net and some tools to help with it, apparently the transition isn't all that smooth.
This website captures some of the sentiment from the public: Visual Basic.Not. I guess the title says it all.
Contrast that to the IBM model, where you can continue to build and deploy Notes and Domino applications and optionally integrate them into IBM Workplace at your own pace. And lest you actually believe MS when they say they can migrate your Notes/Domino applications, you might heed the same advice as in the VB migration article cited above. It ain't easy or foolproof.
So, with that in mind... as long as you are going to have to migrate off of Visual Basic, you might as well look at the alternatives:
1. Move to Domino Designer and LotusScript. You can continue to use your code and call your COM components on Windows, in a LotusScript agent. Plus, it's cross-platform - everything from a PC/Windows to Linux to iSeries to a zSeries mainframe! There are a lot of VB apps that could easily be re-implemented in Domino and take advantage of the industrial strength security model, offline usage, robust and scalable database store, etc. Plus, it's not that hard to pull the application data from wherever it is today into Domino.
2. Move to Java. As long as you have to learn a new language, you might as well learn a proven standard. Plus, Eclipse provides plenty of tool support, as does Rational Application Developer. There seem to be a lot of VB to Java tools offered if you search for them. I have no idea how well they work, but they're out there.
Anyone out there want to share a successful VB to Notes/Domino migration story? or VB to J2EE?
Product Manager, IBM Workplace Application Development[Read More]
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The annual issue of Parade's Magazine "What People Earn". came in my Sunday Boston Globe last weekend, and as usual it did not disappoint. Not only do I get some good insight into various jobs and what they pay in the US, but it's also a great source of overall labor statistics.
Yes, the economy in the US did improve, creating 2.2 million jobs in 2004, but it was still too few to replace the 2.4 million lost from 2001 through 2003. Productivity improved, corporate profits rose, interest rates remained low, and we had relatively low inflation. Looking to the future, job growth will continue to be erratic, with a projection of 2.1 million jobs in 2005, and employers will likely continue to look to temporary or contract workers in the near term.
Where is strong hiring expected? Financial services, energy construction and health care. They also single out information technology security as having more vacancies than job seekers, and this market is expected to grow by 14% a year to more than 2.8 million jobs in 2008.
So what did people earn? Once again, I am amazed at some of the salaries. For example, several teachers are pictured with salaries of less than $25,000 per year, yet a teacher in Stockton California, which is not an expensive area, receives an $88,000 salary -- a wide disparity. The only IT worker, called an "Info Systems Analyst," in New Jersey receives an income of $55,000. A couple of jobs related to the huge growth in real estate prices, mortgage broker and real estate broker, are listed at $280,000 and $600,000, respectively. Wow!
And if you're trying to steer your kids toward majors that will help them earn a buck on graduation, stay away from psychology, which has a starting salary of $28K, or English, at $32K. Steer them toward computer engineering ($52K) or economics ($40K) or maybe no college at all -- go right to real estate.
- Barbara Bowen, WW Certification Program Manager, Lotus Software[Read More]