Mar 24, 2008

Lost White House E-mails: It's not Notes' fault, really.

Ed Brill decided to call my (well some Californians) Congressman Darrell Issa about his testimony regarding missing White House e-mail. At the top of Ed's list was his concern about some disparaging remarks the Congressman made about Lotus Notes.

I ended up on the phone with Congressman Darrell Issa, who could not have been nicer or more understanding of what issues were raised by his comments. I have received a letter from the Congressman, which I hope to publish in the next week or so. The hearing testimony will also receive an amendment clarifying the intent of the commentary about Lotus Notes.

Bravo Ed! Seriously, I respect your boldness (or as some say in SoCal cojones) to address Congressman Issa's comments directly. I'm pleased to hear that he was receptive and willing to make the record straight.

Ed's blog posting includes some interesting commentary, and putting in my $.02, I'd like to tell anyone who's interested in this saga should read David Gewirtz's book Where Have all the E-mails Gone? (I've blogged on it too).

Red tape, low wage workers, and budget limits aside, there are also plenty of high paid consultants behind the push for technology at all levels of government. The decision to move from Notes to Outlook could have been based on the technological soundness, records management capabilities, and depth of security of the e-mail system, but it was more likely based on the same arguments that many enterprises face. Things like end-user preferences, cost, support capabilities (often outsourced), and prevailing IT politics. All play a big part in deciding which technology to use.

Quite frankly, I really don't want the presidential administration to pick out the e-mail system for the White House. I'd rather have the administration worry about the country (You know, be a government). What I do expect is that the administration follow policy as our government has deemed is appropriate. In his book, Mr. Gewirtz makes a strong argument for taking the e-mail and IT choices out of the hands of the administration. That running the White House information systems should be treated as a separable, non-partisan IT department that can handle all the technical stuff to keep White House messages (and information) secure, compliant with the law, and safe for future use. Hmmm, isn't this the same stuff most enterprises are dealing with today? Maybe there's a few competent people out there after all.

Ed Brill

Mar 14, 2008

An idea worth sharing

My friend Volker posted this on his blog today. It's a fascinating video and worth ever minute. Stay to the end.

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened -- as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding -- she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.

TED | Talks | Jill Bolte Taylor: My stroke of insight (video)

Mar 7, 2008

Microsoft's SharePoint Conference - Soaking in the Information

I just wrapped up 4/5ths of a week immersed in Microsoft technology at the SharePoint conference in Seattle. For me it was an excellent opportunity to meet developers, partners, and customers who are working with SharePoint. Although the 90 minute breakout sessions were sometimes tough to sit still through, there was a lot of insightful and deep information in the sessions I attended. Just about every speaker overran their allotted time and most attendees hung in there for the very last tidbit. It was a much needed conference for Microsoft customers who seemed to be soaking in as much information as they could. One example of this happened late Wednesday afternoon when I walked into a session that was being held in the same auditorium that the keynote was held in - capacity ~1500, my guess. I don't know what the session was about but the topic being discussed was Master Pages and the room was at least 2/3rds full. That's a lot of people learning about Master Pages!

The attendees were serious, I tell ya. I heard a variety of comments about the sessions being too "markety." Personally I didn't experience that. I was focusing on security and deployment types of talks which were pretty advanced conversations. Perfect for a techie like me. One excellent session was presented by Kimmo Forss and Dino Dato-on, Microsoft Consulting Rangers, who talked about globally distributed SharePoint environments. They have written several TechNet articles on the topic which I recommend every customer read before deploying SharePoint. Also check out this blog post for more links on global deployment strategies.

On the vendor side the 3rd party market is gearing up with many products that have been developing since the SharePoint 2003 days. I expect this market to continue to expand as customer requirements grow. I noticed a lot of trends within the 3rd party market including, push for management tools (especially permissions and site management), more tools for pulling information into SharePoint (either scanning in physical records or integrating with enterprise data and applications), tools around replicating information, educational resources, securing SharePoint environments, and managing content. One thing that stuck me was the term replication is used very broadly in the SharePoint world. Sometimes replication means offline content usage (e.g., Colligo), other times it means server to server data replication (e.g., Syntergy), still other times it means moving sites, designs, and information across server farms (e.g., Echo Technology). All qualify as replication except they focus on solving only one part of the replication puzzle.

All in all it was a worthwhile event in my book. I had a good balance of Microsoft to vendor to customer interaction.