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In a side conversation this week, I was talking with some people about what kinds of things might increase the size and power of the Domino community. I've heard some suggestions that are pretty radical but I don't think its necessary to go so far.
If the goal is to increase and empower the community, I think the best place to start is the community. Think of the Domino community in two or three levels. First, there's a sort of loud, showy, dog and pony show blogger community. I'm in it, some of you are as well. Aside from being complete ASW's (let's say that stands for 'extrovert' and leave it at that) the thing most of us have in common is access to our own servers and client tools to work with things outside the bounds of a controlled corporate project environment. A much larger community exists inside the corporate firewalls. This group doesn't have the tools to play with new things on zero day. They read the blogs and go to the seminars but don't get to touch code for years.
That's where my suggestion comes in. I believe one of the smartest uses of funds IBM could apply to marketing, would be providing a client and server license to the many internal developers and admins who work day to day inside the corporate I.T. departments. In an ideal world, they'd make available a hosted virtual machine -- maybe a linux vm pre-configured with a Domino server installed and waiting for connection from the remote-setup tool. That could be easily done since in Linux the server doesn't run with super-user access. A web browser accessible restart mechanism could easily kill the processes and restart the Domino part of the server, and tftp or scp access to the data file system would be easy as well.
The goal of the program would be to give the army of corporate I.T. people access to set up web sites and blogs, and to test developing with the latest and greatest tools long before those tools had been rolled out at work. How many Domino developers would love to try out XPages but at work they're still running version 7 or earlier?
With a few hours lead time, it would be pretty easy to pre-configure a Linux virtual machine with an installed Domino partition that would be easy to user-recover in the event of a crash (which is inevitable when developers start playing with Java agents). Hosting could get expensive depending on how many took the offer, but not excessively so. They don't need dedicated servers. A dedicated partition on a virtual server with limited processor allocation would fine for the purpose. In fact, distributing that vm to be used with the free vmware player on a workstation would work as well to start for many, and leave the door open for those who wanted to upload their vm onto public hosting if they wanted to carry that cost.
What do you think? Are you a corporate developer that would use something like this?
If IBM would make it legal to do so, I'd be happy to create the pre-configured linux based VM's and instructions on how to run them on a workstation.
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