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I don't normally pitch product in the kind of engagements I take on. Usually, I'm there for quick and specific purposes and then gone again. It may be a security review, some help on performance, or a project in trouble -- but in most cases its not a "sales" kind of engagement. That's why yesterday's call was so interesting.
There's a company here in the Portland area that we consider to be fairly big in Maine, but most of the you would put in the SMB market. They've got a few hundred mail users in four locations with about fifty of them working from home. I'm being brought in -- as I so often am -- as a third party where the primary I.T. services company they use doesn't have Notes and Domino expertise. They're an iSeries shop and they've got no full time Notes administrator.
Let me emphasize that part for a second: They have nearly 300 mail users in 4 locations, with some working entirely from home, and they have no full time Notes administrator. They haven't needed one. Their environment just runs. They have one of their IT guys who from time time adds or moves users, or handles the acl needs for their few applications -- but for the most part their applications have been stable and for the occasional new one they've had them built by external resources.
Now they're needing to update their iSeries OS and have found that Domino 6.5.4 is no longer supported on their targeted version. They just need some help making sure that their upgrade is going to go smoothly. We spoke for an hour or so yesterday just as a preliminary "get to know each other" kind of meeting before we submit a proposal. That's important to understanding the true scope and need. We talked about security, performance, desktops, calendaring, and so on.
Here are some notes from those discussions that I think generally apply to a very large number of sites in world who are similarly set up:
1. They don't really have an immediate pain points, though they wish Calendaring and Room Scheduling were stronger. This may drive their upgrade to 7.0.x in the short term even before they're ready to move to an eventual 8.5.x once it proves out. The changes to Calendaring is one of two big factors that will likely push them to upgrade workstations and not just servers.
2. They're very interested in Sametime -- and for all the right reasons. They want to use it to bring people together from their four locations and for the home users. They believe it will increase the cooperation and interaction between people. In their case, I totally agree. The four sites are all within a few hours drive of each other -- the furthest distance between any two is maybe 5 or 6 hours drive -- so they're not so distant as to be working on entirely different things.
3. Sametime integration may be a big driver to move them from 6.5.4 at the client side to 7.0.x and eventually to 8.5.x. I'll be setting them up with accounts on Lotus Greenhouse so they can start getting to know Sametime. We'll have at least one meeting that way as well.
4. The upgrade to 7.0.3 on the server is going to happen. They're nervous about touching anything, but they need this upgrade. They're nervous because they've been poorly served in the past. These guys are professionals in how they work, and they haven't had the kind of professionalism they expect in their past dealings with supporting Domino. Like many companies, that doesn't send them out looking for better, it puts them in a "bunker down" kind of mode where they just stop looking for help. Convincing them to upgrade past the immediate need for 7.0.x for the time being as well as convincing them to upgrade the clients is going to require that we first have a successful project and can build that trust. I think this is also fairly typical.
5. On the server side, DAOS is going to be a big driver for them to move from 7.5.x to the 8.5.x codestream down the line. In my head, I'm targeting Q2 of 2009 for this kind of a server side upgrade, but we'll see.
These guys seem highly representative of the poorly served SMB market, so I may bring them up again in the future as we move the project forward.
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