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According to SearchDomino.com, Dr. Goyal is moving to become the General Manager of Information Management. Its no secret that I've been very impressed with Dr. Goyal's work at Lotus. I give him a lot of credit for bringing a bunch of different ideas on the future of Domino as it relates to Websphere and DB2 together -- knitting many teams with very different directions into a single vision that has proven to be workable and positive for all of us. To do that, he's had to be technically and politically Savvy at a pretty impressive level. On three occasions I've had the opportunity to talk with him, and each time I have come away extremely impressed.
Dr. Goyal's move is a loss to Lotus, no question, but for IBM overall its a gain. If he can bring the same level of play to the world of relational databases -- where changes are needed as badly as they are in any area of software development today -- we'll all be selling better, more integrated products in a couple of years. DB2 needs to adapt to semi-structured data in xml, support JSR-170, and a ton of other things that will take real innovation to get right. Anytime you have changes like that, you're going to have competing groups with divergent ideas. Dr. Goyal showed a great skill at taking these kinds of competing ideas and getting all the teams on the same page. That's hard to do, so having him in place there will be a huge help.
Now, what do I think of Mike Rhodin (Goyal's purported replacement)? Well, I've only spoken at length with him once. At a Penumbra dinner last year, I was seated at his table. To begin with, he's tall. That's important. If you're tall, you don't have to be a genius to be a leader. Height should not be underestimated as it relates to leadership. Any pollster will agree. Seriously though, I'm fairly sure he wasn't happy with my assessment of his Portal product. My impression of him was mixed, to be honest. He was very focused on large IT customers and did not give me the feeling that he gave a damn about SMB -- at least not as it related to that product. On the other hand, his product wasn't aimed at SMB and he had an agenda to push. That agenda definitely didn't include allowing a smart ass like me say to unkind things about the future of portal products. Overall, he struck me as skilled, technical, and in touch with the product line. Those are good things. He's a good speaker from what I've seen, and that is important as well. Don't forget, he's tall and thin. he'll look very corporate standing up for the press.
Overall, lets toast the work Dr. Goyal did in bringing new life to the Domino product line by finding a vision that including our little world within the larger IBM product schema for the first time. Now that he's done that, I'm sure Mike Rhodin can pitch the closing the game and carry things forward with a solid implementation. In the mean time, if Dr. Goyal's work at the DB2 side is as good as his work on the Domino side, we'll see more innovation and better integration -- the kind of innovation that should make Oracle and Microsoft a bit nervous in the projections for 2007 and beyond.
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