Monday, January 4, 2010

Where do you draw the line ?

Today I received the following email from an IT supplier (not an IBM Business Partner) in another country:
"Dear Mr.Graham,
Pls. clarify my below questions on Lotus Foundation
1. Can Lotus foundation server keep/store all the incoming & out going mails of the users on server HDD/storage?
2. Is it possible to centralize/store all the contact(addressbook) details of customers/partners?
3. Do we need a dedicated IP for foundation server?
4. Can we install Lotus foundation server/clients on Windows Server 2008?
5. Is Lotus server appliance is a HW box with preinstalled software? If yes, what is the aprox. Cost?
Waiting for your reply.

Best Regards,
..."

I'm sure that most people with a specialized blog get a similar style of questions from time to time. For my part, I'm usually quite willing to help other Business Partners where I can and I gratefully acknowledge that I have received more than my fair share of support from the Yellow Blood community over the last two decades.

But where do you draw the line? These questions show a person who doesn't seem to understand the concept of a Lotus Foundations Server and from reading between the lines in their email I deduce they are considering selling a Foundations Server to a customer.

I know that IBM has a strong presence in this person's country and I have told the writer of the email to contact their local IBM rep for the answers. I don't mind the compliment that they contacted (Googled?) me first, but I need to draw the line somewhere or I'll never get any work done.

What policy do you have on responding to these kind of emails?
.

5 comments:

Chris said...

Graham,

With all due respect I would like to give a little different perspective on questions like this. I have emailed you in the past and never received an answer and I am guessing it is because I am not a business partner. However, I have been using formerly Nitix and now LFS for nearly five years. I am an end user who has one of the best Partners in the US, in my opinion.

In today's "I got to have it now society" most people feel they should be able to google something and get an answer now. I do not disagree with you that as an IBM business partner you have I'm sure worked hard to gain your knowledge and you should be paid for your time and expertise. However, the questions asked by the person that you posted are not exactly propriatary information, except maybe the cost. You could go onto Microsofts website and receive answers to these types of questions on Windows with relative ease. I would challenge you to find these types of answers on the LFS Wiki. In fact I would challenge you to find any answers on the LFS Wiki.

IBM has essentially taken a solid piece of Linux Bundled software and they are trying to advertise it as an alternative to Windows Server, however, they have done absolutly nothing to create any type of community to help promote this effort. They have made great improvements incorporating Domino and Notes, but who knows about it other than their business partners.

If IBM plans to rely on their business partners to Market and Fully Support their product then it will die. Again, I have one of the best partners in the US who actually wrote many of the former Nitix Knowledge Base articles and he can not even get a response from IBM support for 2 to 4 weeks. They leave all questions on the wiki unanswered even if they are from a partner.

Again I want to reiterate that I fully support your right to make a living. I am a Civil Engineering Consultant and I understand the need to protect and be paid for your intellectual knowledge, but if IBM continues down the road they are on, meaning not aggressivly marketing and creating a support community, this product will die. I am afraid it already is dying. I am very disappointed because I had high expectations when I read about the IBM purchase of Nitix. Ask some folks about the former Interjet process and what happened to that promising product after they purchased it. They are heading down the same road.

Good Day,

Chris

Graham Dodge said...

Hi Chris,
My philosophy is to reply to every question I get even if my answer is that the person should contact their local IBM office for information (which is what I told this last person).

Sometimes questions go into the deferred basket and never get around to being revisited which is a sign of my own lack of organization rather than a deliberate policy of ignoring people. If you provide me your full name then I can search for the question you asked and figure out what happened to your email.

My point about the email from India was that the writer (who is a local IT supplier themselves) had made no attempt to resolve these very basic questions before contacting me eg.

Is a Lotus server appliance a HW box with preinstalled software?

Can you run LFS on Windows Server 2008?

Then, to top it off, he asks an Australian Business Partner to tell him the price of LFS in India.

Apart from his question about IP addresses, these are not questions from a person who has made the effort to research the product themselves and is still stuck on some technical point - they are questions from someone who is just too lazy to read the sales documentation or to call up their local IBM office for the answers.

I'm quite happy to help people who have made an effort to help themselves but I draw the line at spoon-feeding them with information they can easily get for themselves.


And don't get me started on the complete mess that IBM has made with (lack of) marketing the Lotus Foundations Server product... I agree with everything you say on that point.

Henning Heinz said...

I would not answer such a request at all. And for Foundations. As Steve Mills would probably say.
This kind of business is not our forte.

Chris said...

Graham,

I must admit that I went back and reread your post and I missed the part about the person being an IT provider. I understand your position better from that perspective, I guess I just am very frustrated with the IBM support to this point. I beg them, please create a community! Even Nitix had a little of that.

If IBM admits it is not their forte, then why didn't they just leave it alone. It was a solid alternative to Windows SBS. Now they have a piece of software out there that can not even be a Domain controller to an operating system that has been on the street for testing for nearly two years. It seems to me their focus is on Domino which is understandable, but it seems they are assuming someone still has a Windows server to do other things. The whole point of LFS is to get rid of a windows server in my mind.

OK I am off my soap box now. I enjoy reading your posts you are one of the few that provide any info on LFS and I like your perspective because of your strong Notes back ground. I have little experience with Notes so any tips help.

Thanks,

Chris Nicol

Graham Dodge said...

Chris,
A full-text search of my mail file showed no entry for 'Chris Nicol' so I don't know what happened to your original email. If the issue is still relevant then please resend the question.

/Graham