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IBM’s next generation cloud email solution is coming to CONSUMERS for FREE!

Last week IBM provided a glimpse into their next innovation in email.  Code-named MailNext, it is now formally named Verse.  This is the next evolution of Connections Cloud, their enterprise cloud suite of software.
Now, just a week later, IBM has announced plans to make Verse available to CONSUMERS for FREE!!!
This is unprecedented by IBM.  First, this is the first time IBM has targeted consumers rather than businesses.  Second, the price is right to attract users to experience the new concept in messaging.  Free.  A brilliant strategy to finally take an aggressive action toward marketing their product by first winning over their market as individuals and then as businesses.

Long ago Microsoft did this by including Outlook with every operating system. Consumers used that interface to use POP to access their personal email accounts.  Familiarity at the consumer level made it easy for businesses to be persuaded to use it along with Exchange server for an enterprise messaging system.  Then Google repeated this successful recipe to build a strong consumer base before diving into the enterprise messaging marketplace.

Now IBM is going to apply the same formula.  Unlike Google however, IBM is not going to turn consumers directly into profit like Google does with their advertising and scanning of email.  They will be targeting Businesses to provide the revenue.

The beauty of this formula is simple.  Email is the software equivalent of a Gateway drug into the collaboration software market. And IBM intends to get you addicted to theirs.  In this case, those hardcore drugs are IBM’s collaboration software suite:  Connections (team, B2B and B2C tools for file sharing, activities, wikis, blogs, forums, surveys, & more);  Sametime Instant Messaging, video, audio, web conferencing, and Notes & Domino.  And IBM is taking the same approach as the State of Washington, making their gateway drug very accessible and affordable to everyone.

I have to wonder if this isn’t at least partially driven by IBM’s new partnership with Apple who has proven how successful consumer loyalty can be.  Many of us who work with the IBM technology and understand how much more powerful it is than the competitive products have long blasted IBM for shunning the consumer market. I have often thought one of their biggest mistakes was separating the application designer tools from the Lotus Notes client which took away the power for end users to apply their own energy to create the custom applications they needed. At that point in time they disarmed their greatest allies and advocates of the software.  It looks like the giant has finally awoken and recognizes the power that the individual has on the choice of software in the workplace.  I am anxious to see what this new evolution will do for improving our productivity in the most widely used software category in the world. How do you think this will impact the landscape of the collaboration software market?  Want to see for yourself? Pre-register here.


SmartCloud Tip #01 Using the Notes admin client to compliment the SmartCloud web admin screens

This is my first in a series of tips regarding SmartCloud Hybrid Notes migrations and administering SmartCloud Hybrid Notes environments that aren’t always obvious.

First, as a user, I will say that the more I use SmartCloud Notes, the more I like it.  Yes, when doing administration tasks I keep bumping into walls that, as an experienced administrator, I wish weren’t there.  But I have seen the problems that a bad or malicious administrator can reek on a system given the opportunity and I am thankful for the excessively tight security.  After all, one of the biggest reasons to go to SmartCloud is so you don’t have to administer mail servers, right?

Tip #01 – How to use the Notes Administrator client to compliment the SmartCloud Web administration screens:
As usual, the system administrators are the last ones to get a UI that makes sense.  No surprise since there is only 1 administrator for every few thousand end users.  The SmartCloud Web Administration screens aren’t very efficient and can be downright frustrating to use at times, especially when you are accustomed to using the Notes Administrator client.

For example, let’s say you have a mixture of mail templates in use and you need to move everyone using one template to a different one.  There is no way to see what template is applied to each mail file via the web admin interface.  At this time it simply can’t be done.  But you can use your Notes Admin client to find them.  While the SmartCloud servers won’t show up in the list of servers in your domain and you can’t view the directory in SmartCloud to add those servers in bulk, from the pulldown menu select File – Open Server and enter the server name to gain limited access to the server.  The SmartCloud servers will even appear in the Open Server dialog list if you have opened mail files on them already.  Be sure to bookmark your SmartCloud servers in your favorites too, so you don’t have to go through this process every time.

Now that you have the server open, you can go to the Files tab and see more details on your users’ mail files including the templates applied.  The directory structure they use in SmartCloud is designed to accommodate a multi-tenant environment.  So you will want to know where to find your mail files.  It’s not too hard because you can’t see any databases you shouldn’t have access to.  The directory structure works like this:  In the root there will be the directories Data0, Data1, Data2, Data3.  You can ignore the Data0 directory as no mail files are in there.  Each of these directories contain the following subdirectories:

12345678 (your customer ID) – location of the mail files for users that have this server designated as their mail server
lost+found – used for maintenance
s\12345678 – location of mail files where this server is the user’s secondary server in the cluster

While there aren’t many actions you can take here, it does make it easier to do tasks like open mail files for troubleshooting, view the database properties, see who is approaching their quota, etc.

Viruses Happen

mr yuk

The good news:  I still have never had a computer get infected with an email virus while using Lotus Notes.  That 18-year run is still going.

The bad news:  My laptop got a virus through a random act of browsing.  It happened thanks to a touch pad strategically located between the palms of the hands where it can occasionally cause the mouse to move or misread a mouse click.  It has happened many times in the past.  I’m typing away when suddenly the cursor jumps to somewhere else on the screen and my typing starts appearing in the wrong place.  This time it went to the browser window and who knows what input it took before I stopped typing.  It’s the first time being a fast typist was a liability for me.  I just know that suddenly I started getting a chain of popups.

I closed everything and it didn’t look like anything evil happened, but since then my computer started crashing randomly and would never come out of hibernation properly.  A full virus scan revealed a problem, but it needed the help of a Norton Anti-virus bootable CD.  OK, I created the bootable CD from another computer and ran the repair tool.  After that the PC quit booting altogether.  This was a case where the cure was worse than the illness.  No, it won’t even restore to a previous recovery point.  Sure, I could resort to a system image recovery that I made some time ago, but there are no guarantees of recovery at that point.  Who knows what devilry is at work with the Norton tool and virus.

I put in a call to Norton support and pretty quickly the guy at the other end decided to escalate this one to the next level.  They actually scheduled a time the support guy would call back.  This is going to be a true test of Norton’s support service.  I’ll keep you posted.  Meanwhile, the blog will continue to be quiet thanks to this new time-sucking event.

The Secret to Keeping the junk out of your Sent folder

Quick Tip:   This will help keep the junk out of your sent folder and keep your mail file smaller.

Step 1:  Create a folder called “Delete Later” (or just use the Junk folder).
Step 2:  ALWAYS use Send and File instead of Send.  If the message is important, it should be filed into the appropriate folder.  If it is not, then file it in the “Delete Later” folder.
Step 3.  Whenever you get a quota warning, start by deleting all the messages in the Delete Later folder.

If I had it my way, the option to send without filing a message would not even exist.  I preach this method to my users and have seen some users trash 1/4 to 1/3 of all their sent mail using this method.  That’s a huge savings of space and clutter.

If you liked this tip, please rate it and spread the word.  If you didn’t, please keep it a secret.

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