Gardening, The Cloud, and a Direction Change: Some brutal honesty.

In London for two days last week, and now planning to be down there for a lot longer. My hermit lifestyle, licking my office window and staring at the wabbits - is over. To celebrate the refurbishment of her green-house (which you could safely park two cars in), SWMBO had me in the garden this weekend, which looks far better than it did four weeks ago - Toby Grieves the gardener did a standup job. Its a shame my ride-on lawnmover is giving me so much grief right now.

So its back to the travelling - something I hate just a little bit more every time I do it. Not for me the senior exec-business-class millionaire-mile club limo to the airport bollocks. I have to pay my own way. So last week was British Airways and Heathrow Terminal 5 - which wasnt as awful as I thought it'd be. The biggest badly laid-out shopping mall in the world, with a tiny little airport stuck on the outside. Sad, standing outside Aberdeen airport, all the flags at half mast. Kinda puts my petty grumbling into perspective. This week - Sleasyjet and the horrors of Luton Airport. But there is some hope on the horizon - I'm on holiday next week, and have the joys of Tank Paintballing to look forward to. Wooooo and as they say Hoooo.

Blogging and Tweeting will therefore take a back seat for a while, whilst I work out my new priorities.

Some thoughts on recent events: The Apple iPhone is georgeous. By far the best portable iPod/Game/Phone/Map/Internet device I've ever used. I even used it to drunkenly find my hotel last week, and to find the best route to the office. The BlackBerry appstore opened, and within a few minutes, had it running on my new Bold device. Nice app store (so far). The futures bright, and the future is self-provisioning applications. The Cloud in your pocket.

Self provisioning, cloud provisioning, applications on demand, user-driving computing. We've been promising this shit for the last 25 years I've been in IT, and I have yet to see anything actually deliver (in the Enterprise) on this. Check out the iPhone, and think: Why dont I have this on my corporate LAN? We could argue that our users are dumb (they are not), that they have to use a standard (they dont), that their machines are not powerful enough (probably), or that business doesnt know about IT (it does). And what I see is scared, underresourced IT departments, no longer in control of their own budgets, asking similarly clueless vendors how to do magic. If in doubt, outsource, and watch that whole mess dissolve into finger-pointing and recriminations when it fails.

In other words, there is going to be a huge sea-change in the very near future. Hang on to your hats, burn those old allegances, dust off your exams and prepare for a very different future to the last 10 years.

And lets not get too excited about the Cloud v1, especially from the lumbering giants we give our support money to at the moment. Hastily slapping up a cloud effort, buying in foreign, new mail systems and hoping no-one spots the lack of provisioning API in their offerings. Or their lack of corporate directory syncronisation. Or their lack of migration capability. Look hard, look deep and ask pointed questions. Just because it says MIcrosoft, or IBM, or even Google - Would you bet your career on it ? Would it suddenly require a whole clue-transplant and efficiency injection for the same old lumbering giant to throw back the curtains and prance around like a ballerina? When was the last time you saw a Pig Fly, or an Elephant Dance?

And us Notes practiitioners cant get too smug. Imagine how easy a Notes Appstore would be. A central catalog, distributed (replicated!) to each notes site, who could put up apps, download apps, and pay for apps without all that tedious mucking around with the internet. Would that be cool ? And given our replicated, secure, multi-platform infrastructure, actually easy to do. Will it ever happen ?

No. Sorry. And why ? Notes - especially here in the UK - is being labelled as Legacy. By the customers, by IBM UK, by ISSL, by Telecoms providers, by service providers, and by the technology press. Sorry folks. I've tried pushing back the tide for many years now and I've given up. You see, unless you actually keep telling folks about your product - and I dont mean the 150+ folks of the little yellow bubble - then they rather assume that its dead. Marketing - in my book - is slightly more than just preaching to the existing customers you already have, whispering false promises of market domination in their ears.

I wish it were otherwise. Technology-wise Notes is excellent stuff - better than its ever been before. It works, its stable, it secure, its multi-platform. Its just basically ignored by IBM when it comes to actually marketing. It must be hell for Lotus folks - especially here in the UK - to actually get the message out. Can you imagine how frustrating that must be ?

Dont get me wrong - I'm still going to work on Notes, I'll still support it and possibly I'll believe (especially as Sam the man - the IBM prez - is up for retirement) that Things Will Change. But I'm not betting my mortgage on it anymore. You listen to the spin and the weasel-words seeping out of the IBM logo as much as you like - but till you see the Lotus Brand actually marketed, I see little change to the death-spiral. Depressing ? Yes.

But dont act surprised.