Category Archives: BlackBerry

Microsoft hires Lotus Professionals for Cloud Computing at Office 365


That’s right.  You read the headline correctly.  I’m not the only Lotus professional working on the Office 365 project.  My friend, a fellow Lotus professional just joined the team.  Surprisingly, I didn’t know anything about it until a week before he started.  Now you might be asking yourself:  “What would Microsoft need Lotus professionals for?”  No, it has nothing to do with things like mail migrations.  It’s all about BlackBerry Enterprise Servers and messaging.  I think this illustrates more than ever that if you have universal skills, like understanding the concepts of messaging or troubleshooting, you are highly marketable, regardless of the details of what product those skills are used on.  It’s not about being a professional of a particular brand.  It’s about being an expert of a process.  Conceptual understanding transcends the syntactic details.  Demonstrate that and you will display higher value (DHV).

Now for some quotes you might hear among us Lotus experts  at the Microsoft:

“What do you mean, I can’t paste a screen shot in a Lync IM chat?”
“Where is the ‘Send and File’ feature?”
“You mean if I want to file a message into multiple folders, I have to make copies of it?”
“Why does everybody CC everyone on the team for every email?  Don’t they have discussion Dbs for that?”
“What do you mean, we don’t have a knowledge base?  How do we collaborate?  Oh, CC everybody.”
“I’ll just Google that, uh, I mean Bing it.”
“I could do this so easy in a Notes app!”
“How do I create a reminder on my calendar?”
“Notepad++ ?  Don’t let anyone see you using that.”
“Where is the workflow in this app?”

Yes, my friend, welcome to the team.

BlackBerry Business Cloud Services: The truth behind the story from one who knows


There is a lot of talk going around about BlackBerry Business Cloud Services  on various blogs:  Paul Farris’ Blog   Volker Weber’s blog
First, let me say, unless you work(ed) for Microsoft or RIM, this is totally irrelevant and transparent.  BlackBerry support has been available with Office365 for years.  The big deal here is that RIM finally finished their cloud solution which was code-named “Contrail”.  This has been long in the making.  It’s not insider news, it’s just that few people noticed it when n4bb.com published it back in March 2011.

All it means is that instead of those BES servers sitting in Microsoft’s data centers, they will be sitting in RIM’s data centers.  So what’s the big deal?  It’s all in the cloud, so you don’t care where the servers sit.  What’s more, this doesn’t really apply to all of Office365, only the standard edition for smaller customers.  The bigger customers are hosted in dedicated environments and they won’t be moving their BES services for awhile.  But it doesn’t matter.  You won’t notice any difference and the transition is completely invisible to the customer, save that as it is RIM’s product, they will probably be more responsive to upgrades to the latest version and more savvy in troubleshooting issues.  This is really more a positive press opportunity than anything for a company overdue for some good news.

If there were anything even mildly interesting in this story it would be that Domino isn’t mentioned.  But I expect that’s just around the corner and they probably don’t want to confuse the message.  If your company uses Exchange, you don’t care about Domino. (By the way, LotusLive AKA Smart Cloud also supports BES deployments)  This will also give RIM a second press release of glory when they make a similar announcement for Domino.

My Project Working at Microsoft is Complete: An update to the Lotus community


In my May 30, 2011 post I explained that I had started a project at Microsoft where I would be working with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) team in Office365 to improve the process for building the BES servers, streamlining the process, reducing the bugs, and clarifying the instructions for the build team.  Well that project has come to completion and the results were fantastic.  We accomplished everything we set out to do and I made some great new friends in the process.

It is rewarding to know my skills can easily port to a different platform and that I could be so successful regardless of the brand of software.  (Let that be a lesson to all techies.)  Technical writing, process improvement, troubleshooting, teamwork were all more important than a detailed knowledge of the software.

I was looking forward to the opportunity to see Microsoft software deployed and used the way its developers intended, using all the best practices and perhaps have my opinion changed by the experience.  To that end, I was both impressed and disappointed.  The infrastructure is very sophisticated and well managed.  Everything you would expect.  Yet I was surprised at how some technology was used.     I often asked myself things like “Why are we having this big reply-to-all email conversation instead of just using a discussion forum or Teamroom?” or “Why are we creating online instructions in Word documents?”  Well at least now I understand the reasoning behind why certain Microsoft software features work the way they do.

I may find myself back there working on another project, perhaps on another team and get a totally different experience.  Actually, I hope so.  It’s a big, diverse company and I expect, like most large companies, different teams work in different ways.  Meanwhile, I am back in the world of IBM and social business and  I will continue to share the knowledge of collaboration and social business here in a region where it is needed most, only now with a deeper understanding of both brands.

Information leak about RIM and Lessons learned


As a BlackBerry Deployment Engineer for Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud service, I am sometimes privy to confidential information. In this case, I will leak to you that RIM had a huge BlackBerry service outage this week. OK, so maybe you already heard that.  While the root cause analysis (RCA) will take time to complete all the details, they did report that it came down to a network switch failed and the backup did not take over as expected. The result caused a cascade of system failures. Right now it sucks to be RIM. And it is easy to sit back and admonish RIM for not having been better prepared. I’m sure they will learn from this mistake. When I was growing up, as my parents sent me off to school, they would always say “Have a great day and make lots of mistakes!” Why? Because they knew that we all learn from our mistakes. Since then I have come to a new conclusion: I can’t afford to make all the mistakes I need to learn. So I have adopted a new philosophy:

If Intelligence is the ability to learn from your mistakes, then Wisdom is the ability to learn from the mistakes of others.

In this case, I really don’t want to make the same mistake RIM made. So what can we learn from RIM’s mistake? When it comes to the most critical systems, have multiple redundancies, not just one backup system as was the case at RIM. Cave divers always have 3 systems to keep them alive. Medical systems often have 3 redundant systems. Football teams have third string players for key positions. The space shuttle had 3 to 5 redundancies for those most critical systems! Murphy’s Law states “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” and one of the many corollaries states “Everything goes wrong at once.”

Take a moment to learn from RIM’s mistake. For your most critical of mission-critical systems, have multiple redundancies. If it is a hard sell to management, just point them to Black(Berry) Monday, October 10, 2011.

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