About this blog:
This blog focuses on software quality in general, and IBM Collaboration Solutions offerings in particular. The author is an IBM employee, but expresses his observations and opinions as an individual here. The purpose of the blog is to nurture a conversation with our customers and partners about continuous improvement of our software based offerings. ~FTC.
Enjoy Peter Presnell's insight gathered over a number of migration projects. Replacing an advanced messaging, application development, and web server platform like Domino is far from trivial. And the author has seen how it often goes down. If you care about quality of your environment, take note of this experience. Thanks to Peter for sharing.
Anyone considering a migration project would be wise to very carefully estimate both the full scope and budget of the effort, as well as the ability to continue support for existing usage patterns. Map how your users are actually leveraging the platform they have today. Don't assume you know.
Years ago, one of my first projects for IBM was to run beta tests for departmental cutsheet network printers. I'll never forget a particular customer: Great and very cooperative IT staff, but when they pointed me to their 'main' print queue, I found limited traffic. To make a long story short, they didn't realize many employees had switched their print jobs to alternate queues on alternate server clusters. Keeping up with all areas of usage is no small task. Know your users, especially when planning change projects, whether migrations, expansions, or other. .
Would like to share a customer testimonial regarding LotusLive. We have received some nice press coverage in the past year for a very large LotusLive deal, the largest ever. But as this testimonial shows, LotusLive can add value no matter the size of the subscriber's organization.
What I find so interesting in this testimonial is the transformational power of the solution. This is literally a game changer for the subscriber, catapulting their services into the competitive leading edge. This is what we do best. Help customers apply technology to solve business problems. And win. .
You may be familiar with the fact IBM Software Group has upped the minimum duration of software support from "3+2" to "5+3", or expressed in words: minimum 3 [now 5] years of support, with at least 2 [now 3] more years of support available at a charge. This better enables our clients to schedule upgrades at convenient times and not be forced to upgrade every few years.
An important extension of the IBM Software Support Lifecycle Policy is the statement that we will normally support N-2, meaning two feature releases prior to the latest release. This is an important part of enabling our clients to stay at the same release for a longer period. The "N" parameter is not necessarily the first digit in the release string, though. Each product may count differently, but I expect for Collaboration Solutions you'll see us counting each V.R (Version.Release or the first 2 digits of the release string) as feature releases. That should mean in the Notes/Domino and Sametime world, for example, that when we launch a release 9.0, we'll still be supporting releases 8.0 and 8.5 in parallel. However, if you step that backward once, you might think we should be supporting Sametime releases 7.5 and 8.0 for as long as 8.5 is the latest release. That would be true except that End of Support has already been announced for release 7.5 before publishing the N-2 policy, and that decision is grandfathered.
It's important to notice that the linked document is a policy, not a firm commitment. There will be variations, but in most cases we'll follow the standard policy of "5+3" and "N-2". Always check additional information specific to the product you're interested in. Note that this policy does not apply to software produced by the IBM Systems and Technology Group, such as operating systems. See also answers to Frequently Asked Questions linked directly within the Policy document above.
My colleague Ron Denham has put together a quick 4 minute video showing you how simple it is to open a FREE Lotus Greenhouse account. I want to share his video for two reasons: (1) Because a Lotus Greenhouse account lets you try out all our products without purchasing a license, and (2) because a Lotus Greenhouse account is needed to comment on entries in Greenhouse blogs. (However, since this was originally posted, my blog has moved to developerWorks)
If you don't already have a Lotus Greenhouse account, please listen to the video, create your account now, and start familiarizing yourself with our products. And commenting on this blog :-) Cheers
From time to time, I am asked what virtualization environments specific products support. With the increasingly diverse choice of virtualization technologies available, it is natural for IBM to select some that will be supported across our portfolio, ensuring that multi-product solutions can leverage the same virtualization technology. So last year, IBM announced a virtualization support policy aligning virtualization support across our product portfolio. In addition, individual products or product families, can decide to support additional environments of their choice, so long as they don't drop support for any of the environments in the common set. To discover any additional virtualization environments supported, check the individual products' documentation. But know that a core set is supported across our portfolio. .
In the field of software quality, we rely extensively on a series of quantitative metrics to inform us of trends and performance. We need to be keenly aware that the very instant we set a target value for a metric, we are driving behaviors of the people we charge with achieving the target value. Through it all, leaders need to ensure everybody stays focused on what's best for our business and for our customers; and that excessive pressure to achieve those metrics targets don't interfere with that focus.
Here's a real story from the world outside IBM, where the pressure to achieve metrics targets allegedly caused a Police Force in Brooklyn (NY) to bend the rules and violate rights of the people they were supposed to protect. Listen to "Act Two" within this segment of the radio show "This American Life". The story fills roughly the last 41 minutes of the 59 minute segment, so fast forward to time stamp ~18 mins. Police Officer Adrian Schoolcraft documented extensive cases of focusing on metrics over mission. He is now involved in a law suit against the Police Force. This is a chilling real life story.
After listening to this 'extreme' case, I encourage you to ponder your own software related metrics. Are they as accurate as you think they are? And what behaviors are they driving? What are you doing to prevent similar transgressions in your shop? This is worth giving some thought to on a regular basis for any metrics driven organization. It certainly has direct impact on quality. For that reason, I like to validate metrics results with qualitative observations, and where possible also customer feedback. .
Quality has multiple dimensions, but ease-of-use is undeniably a big part of how users subjectively evaluate software they work with. This comparison of IBM Connections and Microsoft Sharepoint gives an in-depth illustration of how our teams have worked to make IBM Connections easy and intuitive to use. Collaborating, sharing documents, or becoming a social business are all topics of the day, but as this video demonstrates, to ensure you choose the optimal solution, you have to go beyond the buzz words and look at how well a solution aligns with desired work patterns and enables productivity. Social tagging is a very key aspect of IBM Connections, which helps me find relevant material, helps save my own time, and helps prevent me from having to interrupt colleagues with requests. If your team is anything like ours, you have an increasing amount of unstructured information to analyze and drive value from. Without social tagging, and without a single search capability spanning all the content, you couldn't even dream of accomplishing a comprehensive analysis. Forget the buzz words. Witness the power of a well thought out solution that aligns with your needs. .
The IBM Champions program, mentioned previously in the blog, has completed the first set (2011) of reviews for the Collaboration Solutions area and today announced the 2011 Champions, see the Social Business Insights Blog entry. These 50 individuals are customers and partners (non IBM employees), who help evangelize our solutions in the field and build the community of users. They deserve our admiration and thank you for their dedication to excellent collaboration solutions, for their insight and expertise, and for their willingness to share their experience with fellow collaboration solutions implementers, users and administrators across the industry, not just within their own organization. As Joyce Davis writes in the in the blog, the champions "will receive an IBM Champion merchandise package (apparel and some cool gadgets!), increased visibility on IBM sites, invitations and discounts to IBM events, recognition at select conferences, and access to key IBM business executives and technical leaders". Let me add to that, the fact that quality feedback from an IBM Champion carries special weight. We are naturally interested in all feedback on our offerings, but especially interested in feedback from the Champions because of their deep insight to our portfolio. Giving technical feedback is a great place to start growing your relationship with IBM Collaboration Solutions, and one day you too may be named an IBM Champion! .
The LotusLive Mobile Meetings beta application download for the Android platform has been added to our LotusLive Mobile program, such that the beta is now available on both Apple, Blackberry and Android. For an overview of all platforms, go to the LotusLive Mobile Overview page. If you are a LotusLive Engage/Meetings subscriber, and use either an Apple iPhone, a RIM Blackberry, or an Android mobile phone, please consider trying out the Mobile Meetings application.
Today marks 100 years since the founding of our company. Very few companies have made it that far. IBM continues to have a unique vision and impact in the world. Our commitment to quality and customer satisfaction in all that we do is naturally important to me as a quality engineer, but on a broader scale, it not just about better quality; it's about a better world. Our campaigns call that a "Smarter Planet" these days, but make no mistake: Our commitment to a better world has been ingrained in our company DNA for a long, long time. This is not simply the latest marketing campaign; it's who we are. Nothing beats working with a team determined to do better every day. The IBM Centennial Film "Wild Ducks" below captures that spirit really well, while celebrating our visionary clients, who allow us to serve them as the innovators' innovator.
As we celebrate the centennial and the wild ducks, who made forward leaps toward a better world, some times by leveraging our technology, and always with grit and determination, it is especially interesting for us in IBM Collaboration Solutions to see the transformation of collaborative norms toward social business, crowd sourcing, and a truly networked world. And to think about what that might mean for the future sources of ideas and innovation, helping enable every citizen of the world participate in, and contribute to, networks of enablement, productivity and improvement. Connecting more wild ducks and creating more opportunities. Our technology and our company is committed to help fight disease and to help lift fellow humans out of poverty and exclusion every day, to build a better world. To make our world, not just smarter, but through that also healthier, cleaner, more peaceful, more just, more inclusive, and more prosperous. Now, that is worth celebrating!
It's a small step in the greater picture, but an important one. I have had several customers ask for this. The Quickr Connectors now support 64-bit Windows and Office 2010. See Mac Guidera's blog post on the topic, and visit Fix Central to download the connectors as Quickr 18.104.22.168_HF7. Feel free to post feedback regarding the quality of the connectors as comments to this blog entry. We're always looking for ways to serve you better. .
Today, on June 1st 2011, Oracle announced (link here) that they have contributed the OpenOffice software to the Apache Software Foundation incubator. For IBM, Oracle's move fits well with our focus on open standards. The near future will reveal what actions will trigger each other like domino pieces, but one thing is for sure: You can expect to see a variety of organizations joining the OpenOffice project under the auspices of the Apache Software Foundation and contributing to it. You can certainly expect to see such contributions from IBM. In the IBM Collaboration Solutions area, the most immediate connection is with our free IBM Lotus Symphony software, which is based on OpenOffice technology. IBM has already announced publicly our intent to contribute to the project, because we see it facilitating continued development and long term viability of OpenOffice. You can find the IBM press release here. As the release points out, IBM has a history of contributing to Apache projects, including the start of the Eclipse Foundation. This is an exciting development for Lotus Symphony and for our clients. And for our Symphony Live code now under development. The added focus on the Open Document Format, and the ODF Toolkit assets under the ODF Toolkit Union, will only benefit users of our software. From a pure quality perspective, the cooperation of a wider set of contributing organizations is generally speaking a good thing. Not that open source software systematically outperforms commercial software on quality, but the breadth of involvement and usage generally promotes quality, albeit in a slightly different way. Expect further innovation in the area of personal productivity software.
Back in April, IBM announced the availability of IBM Connections 3.0.1. It's a "maintenance release", but it contains important new function as well. Does that improve 'quality' of the product? Well, yes it does. Although we often separate new function from quality improvement, or separate 'what' the software does from 'how well' it does it, reality is that available function directly impacts fitness for purpose, which is a key component of quality. (See my post "What does Quality mean?" from April 25th 2011 on that). So from a quality perspective, we quality folks too are excited about the new functionality, especially:
the Media Gallery for sharing of photos and videos
the moderation capabilities for Community owners to screen content,
the Ideation blog for sharing and voting on ideas within a Community, and
the integration with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) repositories.
In terms of currency and non-functional attributes, we added (i) server side support for Windows 2008 R2 64-bit, (ii) support for Microsoft Active Directory 2008 as an LDAP, (iii) mobile client support for Blackberry OS 6.0, (iv) database support for Oracle 11g Enterprise Edition Release 2 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008, and on the security side (v) support for CA Siteminder 6.0 and Java SPNEGO for single sign-on.
As usual, our quality program also looks for improvements beyond function, currency and non-functional attributes. One of the most significant non-functional improvements in release 3.0.1 comes from further work on optimizing code performance in the Communities component, where we beat our own goal for the release by a nice margin. And in terms of performance, the Activities and Files components achieved significant improvements in the 3.0.0 release, so users of an environment migrating from release 2.5 to 3.0.1 should see performance improvement in all three: Activities, Communities and Files. The Connectors Help has been updated in release 3.0.1 with a Files connector and an Outlook Social connector. In addition, a variety of internal metrics demonstrate a healthy focus on quality. The defect deferral rate is very low for IBM Connections. Another key quality metric is the release-to-release reduction of the number of support calls per customer, and the number of customer reported defects. Based on early data for the first three months since release 3.0, both metrics are demonstrating continued improvement from release 2.5 to release 3.0. The fix list for Connections 3.0.1 details what fixes for customer reported defects are included in this release. I have no doubt release 3.0.1 will provide even further value to our Connections customers.
And now you can leverage IBM Connections 3.0.1 Portlets for WebSphere Portal to extend the social collaboration experience of IBM Connections via a WebSphere Portal instance to your collaboration partners. This kind of integration across the IBM Collaboration Solutions portfolio is a key way we deliver additional value of your investment in our software.
If you have suggestions for improvement to IBM Connections, or the connectors, or the portlets, I'd appreciate if you would share it in comments to this blog post. Thanks.
This is a fairly new blog, started just one month ago, so the visit count on each successive entry may rise from a combination of interest in the topic and more people becoming aware of the blog's existence. The prior entry "Why Sametime 8.5.2 is better" saw a very positive rise in visits. I cannot be sure how much of that is due to the topic, and how much is due to increased awareness of the blog, but I take it as a vote in favor of sharing that kind of information. Each new release project has to set strategic quality goals, and achieve them before releasing. My thought is that we should be sharing a "What's better" overview with each new release, just as our Marketing colleagues share "What's new" overviews. I plan to experiment a bit with the level of detail, looking for a balance that is not so detailed it becomes long-winded, nor so sketchy it becomes abstract. Some times, that means discussing select improvements rather than all improvements in a release. Or splitting the material in multiple entries. I just attended the May 24th IBM Collaboration Solutions community call this morning, where the audience confirmed their interest in hearing about continuous improvement. So I'll plan more posts in that vein. Happy to share what I can :-)