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This is the first of a series of posts related to IBM, to Notes, to Connections, and to Connect 2013. I hinted the other day that I had a lot to talk about in this space, and this is the first (and most innocuous) in that series of posts.
As I said on FB earlier, I will not be seeing you in Orlando in January. This fall I came to the conclusion that if I was not speaking at Connect 2013, that I would probably not attend. That has come to pass, and even if I were to give the benefit of the doubt to IBM and trust them that the content and conference would be at least as rich as in previous years, the cost of the conference as an attendee on top of the extremely expensive venue was simply not justified for me any longer. Keep in mind that I'm not saying that the conference is not justified for some other people. For my interests, however, those days are gone. Spending several thousand dollars and a week away from home for a warmed over reduction of the content I'm interested in squeezed in next to a ton of razzle-dazzle about a product line I'm not just isn't a sensible approach for me. I'll have more to say about how IBM continues to ruin a good thing with this conference in the next several days.
Let me explain my own reasoning on why this conference just doesn't make sense for me.
First of all, I have absolutely no interest in IBM Connections as a platform. Many people I respect are making good money working with it, but it isn't for me. I believe it is a short sighted and short lived offering, appealing to a solid but temporary market that I would not be doing a positive service for by encouraging the adoption of the platform. Yes, I know there are big analyst firms with reports declaring the future of that market to be larger than the GDP of much of the known world. I remember similar reports about J2EE servers 15 or so years ago. I called B.S. then, and I do so again. Connections is, to me, a very complex solution to a non-problem (with interesting file sharing added on). I believe it appeals to some I.T. managers who have been convinced they need to be "Social" but have no idea what that really means in a tactical sense. By allocating a few virtual servers in their VM cloud to the "Connections" thing from IBM, they can point to a ton of documents and say "Hey, we're social now". Once installed, I believe actual user adoption is generally abysmal (that's the subject of another discussion). There may be some big innovation in "enterprise social" at some point, but this isn't it. I hope with all my heart that I'm never forced to work regularly with a tool that makes me find my stuff amidst a "stream". When I want something I've been working on, I expect it to be where I left it -- not scrolled down into obscurity because some other moron updated the building heating plan and feels the need to tell me about it.
Second, I have little or no desire to be in the business of installing and updating Websphere based products. When I bring Domino based solutions to my customers, I am able to meet their needs quickly and at far lower expense than they expect. When I work with any of the Websphere and Portal based products from IBM I have the opposite experience. Every small thing a customer wants to do turns out to be much more complex and expensive then either they or I expect. Even when you succeed, you fail to really make people happy that way. Let's be serious about this -- the VERY BEST people I know at working with these products are spending tens of hours on every single installation working with IBM support people just to get the most basic functionality working -- and often the different support groups haven't ever seen Connections before and have no idea how it integrates. That's not a work plan, that's hell.
Instead of sitting in (or skipping) a bunch of sessions about products I have no interest in, I'll use the time and funds to select and get educated on another platform that offers me the ability to make my customers happy. If you think you have an idea on what platform that should be, feel free to contact me. I haven't decided yet. My default position right now is go with the .net stack.
Third, I have a pretty good handle on what Domino and Notes can do, and I can pretty much make them do those things without more training. Combine that with the historically decreasing content in that space at this conference, and I may as well sit in the bar. That's not all that fun for someone who doesn't drink much.
While "Notes Social Edition" has some pretty new window dressing, it's biggest claim to fame is being "less obnoxiously ugly than before". That window dressing will fall down, however, as soon as the users open an application that already exists. Sure, there are a few meaty new features even if you exclude the big ones that are really just aimed at driving adoption for Connections from within the client. Those innovations are not going to revive a declining market share, however. The product has all but collapsed under its own excessive weight and is no longer a major factor in the market for new installations. The new version won't reduce the footprint, the workstation load, or the reliability problems and it won't increase the quality or availability of documentation. It won't improve the hopelessly outdated editor, the nearly unusable design tools, or the nearly incomprehensible mish-mash of configuration setting locations and seemingly conflicting settings.
The Domino Server continues to be incredible, under-rated, and better each and every release. The marketplace, however, continues to not care at all. The new version due out soon includes some really important additions, and if anyone was still interested in new deployments of Domino for external facing applications these would be very important. Sadly, that ship has sailed.
The last straw for me involves what I believe to be truly cowardly, unprofessional, and despicable treatment that I've received from IBM. After 20 years or so as a business partner, I no longer have the stomach to put up with it. I don't want to say too much more about that in this blog post as it's still a developing issue. In all likelihood, I'll have much more to say about it later on.
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