During a recent eMail exchange, it occured to me that the other folks didnt really know what was going on with FirM and HADSL - the company that I part own. So lets fix that.
HADSL ("Highly Adaptive Design Software Limited", or 'This is the the best five letter thing we could think of') produces one product - FirM. This is the 'Federated Identity and Resource Manager for Domino. What does this do? FirM is a shorthand way of describing something that:
- Helps make Lotus Domino a "Federated Directory". So its not told what to do by some meta-directory (such as IBM's Tim/Tam), but reacts to other directory changes. A good example is our latest set of customers, which I was helping train this week. FirM allows you to automatically spot changes in an Active Directory infrastructure, and figure out whats in AD and not in Domino (and vice versa). And suggests things for you to do to bring these systems into sync - such as create a corresponding Domino account, etc. Note that this is most definitely NOT AD Sync - the free tooling available from Lotus. This is enterprise strength, adaptive, and codable two-stage syncronisation, not one-shot 'Oops - where's the undo button' stuff.
- FirM helps manage Identities. Not Marketing identities, such as Coca-cola's brand, but Identities in corporate systems, such as Lotus Notes, Microsoft Active Directory, or RIM's BlackBerry handset. We manage all three environments, and are working hard on managing Microsoft Exchange maiboxes too. (Once you manage AD, Exchange is a walk in the park). Does this mean we're giving up on our Lotus Notes roots ? No. What this means is that we've found more and more customers who use Lotus Notes for applications, and Exchange for eMail. Or companies (through mergers and aquisitions) that end up with mixed environments. So were working with a well-known migration tool company to provide transactions which allow migration between Exchange and Domino. Not as part of a project (though there is nothing to stop you doing that), but as normal operations. Mixed environments are going to be the norm going forward, and Lotus Notes is putting things in place to make this easier. We're also adapting to this mixed environment future.
- FirM manages Resources. In Lotus Domino, most applcations are managed by Notes groups, and what folks really want to do is allow end-users to manage these groups. However, managing a group can be technically challenging for an end user, so we sit in between them and the directory, making sure that it gets done properly. So you can delegate group access to an end user, and allow them to manage the entries. But only allow them to add Notes User Names for instance, and only ones from the current domain. We also handle the group 'spanning' where large groups are broken into subgroups and so forth.
- Management. We allow you to delegate all this extremely complex processes and push them down to non-technical, non-authorised users in your environment. Such as members of the HR department, first level helpdesk, project managers and so forth. We're even working hard on bringing 'self-service' to this mix, so your end users can say things like 'I'm moving from Dublin to London on Monday. Fix my mail'. Delegation does NOT mean a loss of control or a loss of security however. You (as the super-admin) define exactly what they're allowed to do and to whom.
So How dos this help ? It helps because your expensive, highly trained (work with me here, folk) Notes administrators(and AD admins, and BlackBerry administrators) no longer HAVE to be involved in day-to-day user management changes. So things happen faster, cheaper, and your notes administrators arent swamped doing user changes. For instance, we see lots of corporate environments, and feel that 1 administrator per 1,500 users is about as far as you want to go to provide a quality Lotus Notes environment. We've seen sites that have two admins for 5,000 users and they take three months to issue an ID (instead of our 15 minutes), such is their backlog. We figure with FirM, you can push 75% of the admins day-to-day work back onto unskilled folks, and release that admin to do some more valuable stuff - such as upgrade your environment to Domino 8x. Remember - Coatsie says a sign of a good Domino admin is that he has his feet on his desk. Because everything is running properly.
- Enterprise Strength. Our system is multi-notes domain. multi AD Forest, Multi-BES server, and can do load balancing across server farms. It also means that its easy to push requests into FirM, and for FirM to trigger things in your systems when change occurrs. We also have a multi-lingual interface -very important for our German customers - where you can define how you wish the language to appear. You can do a 'Bork Bork' translation if you wish - its your software. Its very secure - more secure - we feel - than Certificate Authority.
- Up to date. We're working on ID vault integration right now for Domino 8.5 We already support roaming users and a slew of features from recent versions. Our object-orientated LotusScript design means that we can react quickly to changes, and support what you want to do. You should never be constrained in your version or platform choice by one of your software vendors.
So thats what we do. 20+ man years effort now, 160k lines of lotusscript, a windows service, and in our v3 product, a very nice Adobe Flex-based user interface. It sounds complicated, but installs in less than an 30 mins, and doesnt actually cost that much. In fact, we probably cost less than the annual renewal cost of your existing identity management software. Speak to Big Tony our sales guy on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We're big believers in sharing with the community too. So please go to hadsl.com and check out all the presetations I've done over the years, as well as open source utilities such as Active Directory pickers for Lotus Notes clients.
So how are we doing ? Its actually been a very good year for us. We've been focusing on adding value for Service Delivery organisations - people who host other peoples Lotus Domino infrastructures, and have made a number of very good sales recently. And as we add features - specifically though self-service - then we can see more and more value being added. We've been at Lotusphere, The View and iLug this year, and are one of the sponsors of UKLug this year. I'll be at Soft-Sphere in Munich on Sunday and Monday, and of course we have a stand at The View conference in Amsterdam in November, so there's lots of opportunity to come by and chat. We're not some sort of high-pressure annoying sales organisations - they really annoy us too - so feel free to say Hi!.