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ALERT: End of Google Cloud Messaging Support impact for IBM Verse Android clients


DominoV10

(Updated 3/21/2019) If you ever wondered why you should keep up to date with your server installations, this IBM Technote published today describes one really good reason.  Less than a year ago Google announced they are deprecating Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) and have replaced it with Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM).   Google will remove GCM support at any time on or after April 11, 2019 (3 weeks from today).

Why do you care? This service is used by IBM Traveler (server) to communicate with Android devices (Verse for Android).  When Google made this announcement, IBM quickly incorporated the new service into the latest Android Verse app (V10.0.4) and the latest release of the Traveler server code stream (V10.0.1).  NOTE: This is the Traveler version, NOT the version of Domino that Traveler is running on.  Traveler V10.0.1 works on Domino 9.0.1. Yes, if you are running Traveler on Websphere, you still need to upgrade Traveler.

If you get automatic updates from the app store, you will already have this version of the app on your device.  If you have automatic updates disabled, be sure to update this app before April 11, 2019.  But Traveler on your server still needs to be upgraded.

If you are using IBM SmartCloud Notes (IBM Connections Cloud) for your email service, you have nothing to worry about.  IBM already took care of it for you.

Read this IBM Technote for details. 

Latest Gartner Magic Quadrant report on Social Software for Business


When you hear the term Social Software, many of us think of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and other similar consumer-oriented websites.  But social software is becoming more broadly adopted in the workplace as well. Gartner recently published a report assessing 17 different vendors of social software solutions for business.  Some of these I had never even heard of before reading this report.  Gartner ranked them in their magic quadrant graph as well as identified what Gartner sees as their strengths and cautions.  I have not yet explored all of them, in depth but I am certainly familiar with three of the more popular ones: Google, IBM, and Microsoft and I think Gartner is spot-on with their assessments of these.  But I would add more detail…

Google: Google has a great experience for the individual user.  But because Google Apps for Work is based on their consumer-grade offering, it lacks some of the basic requirements and central control that businesses often need.  Given that Google is and will likely remain a consumer product-driven company, that will always be their challenge. That also explains why they rank so low on the execution scale and miss the magic quadrant.  On the other hand, they seem to have replaced Microsoft as the new golden child to consumers (think Android vs. Windows Mobile or gmail vs. hotmail) which gives them momentum in the workplace driven by end users who want to use the same software at work as they use at home.  The risk to businesses is that consumers are as fickle about software as they are about women’s fashions and consumers don’t concern themselves so much about things like user support, security, high availability, and privacy.  Google’s roadmap.

IBM: Of these 3 most popular players, IBM is the only one focused exclusively on Business needs, some would say to a fault. The benefit here is their solutions start with the specific needs of business and build up from there and avoid the fickle consumer-driven market. Of course, that can also be their bane.  As a result, sometimes their user experience has lacked the fine tuning that the consumer-focused companies have. On the other hand, their solutions offer functionality for the knowledge worker that is totally absent in the consumer-first solutions.  I am anxiously looking forward to how this is influenced by their recent partnership with Apple. Given IBM is all about business process and data center while Apple is all about user experience and personal devices, this could prove a great marriage.

I completely agree with Gartner’s assessment on IBM’s need to market to developers and third parties to contribute.  The reference to customers’ perception of it as a complex solution would be valid if they were comparing on-site-based solutions.  But they aren’t.  In fact IBM and Microsoft are the only two of all 17 to even offer their solutions as both cloud-based and on-site.  If we limit the comparison to cloud-based versions, this is not a factor. It has also been impressive how IBM has demonstrated its commitment to their cloud solutions by adopting a cloud-first strategy.  Functionality is being added on a monthly basis to their cloud solution with those features being released in the software edition afterwards.  I know they have a busy roadmap. I just wish it were published.  Rumor and blind faith is not a business strategy.

Microsoft: While also primarily a consumer-product-oriented company, Microsoft has solid footing in the business software solution market. Microsoft is more of a latecomer to the social game, but is doing a good job catching up with their acquisition of Yammer. Yammer is good at what it does and even before its acquisition by Microsoft, it was adopted by many organizations starting with pockets of rogue employees, forcing I.T. departments to catch up. This is proof that I.T. leaders should be actively pursuing a social software solution or risk having the employees do it without them. Microsoft has a published roadmap of upcoming features.

When you read Gartner’s article, I recommend starting with the criteria definitions on the right, where they explain what they were basing their evaluations on.  Without understanding their criteria, the assessment can be misleading.

I think the report avoids two very important criteria that concern businesses:

1. Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity:  Nowhere in the report does it mention the infrastructure supporting these solutions. From the end users’ perspective it is irrelevant… Until something goes wrong.  A hurricane, gas explosion, terrorist or hacker attack. “In the cloud” does not mean out of harm’s way.  One of the strongest arguments favoring a cloud-based solution is the assumed resilience to such events. Cloud solutions can reduce the need for businesses to invest in redundant data centers, etc. provided they themselves have executed their own plan adequately. Given the high failure rate of companies that encounter a catastrophic data center event without a DR-BC plan (as published by FEMA), a CIO should be very interested in this criteria.  I am very familiar with how IBM and Microsoft address this and am comfortable with both of them. I don’t know enough about Google’s infrastructure for the Google Apps for Work. Regardless of your provider, you should know their DR-BC strategy and implementation.

2.  Customer Support and Responsiveness to Customer Requests: Yes, there is some mention of customer support in the Customer Experience criteria. That may have been reflected in the rankings, but it was glossed over in the report narratives. Of these three solution providers, Google seems to apply much of the same support philosophy as they have for free gmail accounts. Microsoft, on the other hand, has a good support center of well trained staff and a good escalation process. (I may be bias. I have friends on that team.)  IBM is also strong here. Many of the first level support team has 10+ years of experience and the support structure is such that the same technicians tend to take your calls, so they can build an understanding of your environment and have better continuity from one call to the next. (This is mportant in a cloud environment, as they do much of your administration, so you will make more calls.)

All three of these providers have various discussion forums.  IBM has Greenhouse, where you can also see new features before they go into production and can share product enhancement ideas that the community can promote.  Several product managers are active participants in the discussion forums and persistent, live chat sessions, engaging the customers.  When it comes to Social Business, IBM clearly practices what they preach. I expect part of that comes from IBM having a virtual office philosophy while Microsoft and Google are more campus oriented.  I have yet to discover that level of public accessibility with Microsoft and Google.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist and if you know of it, please share it in the comments.

Probably the biggest factor that will trump all others is where you are starting from. Mail migrations are expensive, so if you don’t pick a vendor that already provides your email system, their solution either needs to integrate well with what you have or you need to be prepared to go through an expensive and disruptive migration.

WARNING: Google Apps for Business Terms of Service


These are the terms of service you are agreeing to in your Google Apps Business account.  See the text highlighted in RED.  Does this agreement concern anyone?
(Taken from Google Business TOS https://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/terms/  )

Your Content in our Services
Some of our Services allow you to upload, submit, store, send or receive content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.
When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.
Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.
If you have a Google Account, we may display your Profile name, Profile photo, and actions you take on Google or on third-party applications connected to your Google Account (such as +1’s, reviews you write and comments you post) in our Services, including displaying in ads and other commercial contexts. We will respect the choices you make to limit sharing or visibility settings in your Google Account. For example, you can choose your settings so your name and photo do not appear in an ad.

Remember: If the product is free, YOU are the product!

SmartCloud leads IBM to dethrone Microsoft on CNN’s “Four Horsemen of Tech” list


The times, they are a’changin’!  In the shifting sands of technology, IBM is proving to be the Rock of Gibraltar.

CNN Money just conducted their annual survey of technology and investment experts to determine which 4 technology companies are the best investments in the industry.  Apple, Amazon, Google, and IBM are what they describe as “The Four Horsemen of Tech”.

Microsoft and Dell are no longer on that list.  And as recently as 2 years ago Research in Motion might have been expected on that list.  The CNN article describes the changing of the guard is due to the shift from PCs to mobile and cloud solutions.  I think it goes deeper than that.

Apple, Amazon, and Google are all following the same track that led Microsoft to its fame and glory days by riding the fast-but-fickle success opportunities provided by the consumer market.  They are simply the latest fashion trends.    In this list of top performers, IBM is the dark horse, being the only one not involved in consumer products whatsoever.  They also just celebrated their 101st birthday this year.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

Rides on the consumer wave are relatively short.  Google is 16 years old, Amazon is 18 and Apple is 36, though Apple’s great surge came in the last 6 years starting with the introduction of iOS.  For reference, RIM and Dell are 28 years old  and Microsoft is 37 and they are already declining.  They too, based their success heavily on consumer products and are now feeling the consequences.  Yes, RIM’s BlackBerry is intended to be a business tool, but it is a consumer device first and foremost.  It is considered even more personal than a personal computer (PC).  One might argue that Microsoft also makes software for business, but their primary focus has always been on consumers and their foray into the business product market has depended on consumer-driven brand recognition.  Also, because many of their products service both business and consumer needs, they are driven by consumer markets.  (See RIM.)

Similarly, the focus that led 3 of the current Four Horsemen to their place in the lineup has a consumer emphasis: mobile devices and advertising.  Apple’s iPhone and iPad redefined mobile.  Google has Android devices and search (advertising).  Amazon is into selling (and advertising) along with the Kindle for a mobile presence.  All of them are also dabbling in cloud services for businesses.  Then there is IBM, the seasoned veteran of business solutions.  What makes them part of this leadership crowd?  I isn’t just for their SmartCloud solution,    I think it is the fact that they have stayed true to their earliest beginnings.  Unlike all of the other players, IBM has focused their attention, with laser beam precision, on the proven stable base of the business market.: They provide business solutions for businesses.  IBM has resisted the temptation to cross the line into the consumer market, even at the urging of experts and loyal customers who pushed to have Lotus Notes repackaged for consumers.  Doing so in the short term would certainly win consumer approval and thus fend off the consumer-led push for the Microsoft Outlook mail client to be used at both work and home.  But that would have forced IBM to chase the whim and fads of consumers rather than staying focused on long-term needs of businesses.

When it comes to technology, IBM is all business.

I predict we will see a rise and fall of all 3 of the consumer-driven horsemen in CNN’s list, replaced with 3 new ones as the what’s-hot list changes.  I also predict that IBM, with it’s exclusive commitment to serving up business solutions, will continue to stand at or near the top as it has for decades.  For consumer products, you shouldn’t care.  But for your business, it matters.

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