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IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

Bill Malchisky  August 25 2014 02:50:00 PM
Preface - As I started this entry in June and in doing research to articulate the point, the case for installation simplicity grew dramatically. This post commences by illustrating the present state, how IBM did better previously (and still does with a different product), three customer examples of revenue impact, and closes with an offered solution for the present state. Please understand it is my intent to assist rather than besmirch, while being professional and respectful to both the community and IBM as a whole. Your comprehension of this perspective is appreciated.

IBM Connections 5 became available mid-June and like many people, immediately began the download process. To my surprise, I lacked sufficient space in my large files partition to handle the pull. I started constructing the trend line for how this product and others progressed overtime, contrasting that with Sametime Community Server and Domino, plus the process to start upon installing each product. My experience with the Sametime 9 installation proved just as troublesome. Amazingly, these results are diverging from IBM's excellent past, not progressing towards an improved way to handle their new set of complex (but capable) product offerings. A few conversations with colleagues and customers confirmed my thoughts and in the spirit of working with IBM to improve processes and products --- as performed previously, numerous times --- I wanted to illustrate a critical opportunity for IBM.

Download Footprint

Table of Linux i386 and x64 - limited file pull for EditLive!, Connections 5, Forms Experience Builder, and WAS (19 of 63 files to include Cognos, DB2, Tivoli, and CCM)

bill@san-domino:/dl/ibm.software/connections5$ ls

Connections_5.0_Cog_Wiz_LNX.tar       pp_qsg_10.1.1_ml.tar.gz

Connections_5.0_Wizards_lin_aix.tar   QS_FOR_WAS_ND_V8.5.5.zip

DMZ_SPS_1of2_WASNDv8.5.5.zip          WASND_v8.5.5_1of3.zip

DMZ_SPS_2of2_WASNDv8.5.5.zip          WASND_v8.5.5_2of3.zip

EditLive_5.0_Conne_MP_ML_QSG.zip      WASND_v8.5.5_3of3.zip

EditLive_v5.0_Conne_MP_ML.zip         WAS_ND_v8.5.5_Liberty.zip

FEB_v8.5.0.1_Linux_x86_ML.tar.gz      WAS_V8.5.5_SUPPL_1_OF_3.zip

FEB_v8.5.0.1_Multiplatform_ML_QS.zip  WAS_V8.5.5_SUPPL_2_OF_3.zip

IBM_Connections_5.0_Lin.tar           WAS_V8.5.5_SUPPL_3_OF_3.zip


Image:IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

Where does one even start with this? The full download set for Linux on Intel is 63 files and 41.3GB, more than I had free on my laptop while traveling. It is also very easy to miss a file, as the Red Hat Linux OS selection includes eight Multiplatform eAssembly bundles with Windows, Linux x86, Linux x64, Linux on POWER, Linux on Z, and AIX all intermingled.  Unless you have time to peruse a significant quantity of online documentation or completed technical training to install their products, you may very well end-up hiring a consultant--or spending significant quantities of time with IBM technical support.

Naming and Build Consistency

The one noticeable improvement in Connections 5 over Connections 4.5 is more filenames are descriptive. To help visualize the contrast, please see my blog post on what Connections 4.5 resembled.

Unpacking IBM_Connections_5.0_QSG.zip provides 24 translations in 24 files of CIYQ4ML_[country-code].pdf, entitled, "IBM Connections Quick Start Guide for AIX, Windows, Linux Multilingual - Version 5", which loses the detailed filename construct (as does the EditLive! 5.0 QSG) and lacks a subdirectory like the other QSG packed files. The Connections 5 QSG provides links to a Technote and a Knowledge Center post to learn your requirements and how to install the product

Two problems inside this file:
1. The system requirements URL links to "System Requirements for EditLive! For IBM Connections 4.5 IFR2" -- the wrong product
2. The Installation URL provides a dead page

Image:IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

In verifying the downloaded archives' contents, many of the ZIP files lack a correlated or unique sub-directory to help manage the files. I find the lack of consistency with the provided packed files irksome.  To demonstrate, I created five QSG directories, unpacking one QSG variant into each to contrast; which guide is in which directory is inconsequential for this experiment. The results are below.

bill@san-domino:/dl/ibm.software/connections5$ ls -F qsg qsg?


CIYQ4ML_ar.pdf  CIYQ4ML_es.pdf  CIYQ4ML_kk.pdf  CIYQ4ML_ru.pdf

CIYQ4ML_bg.pdf  CIYQ4ML_fr.pdf  CIYQ4ML_ko.pdf  CIYQ4ML_sk.pdf

CIYQ4ML_ca.pdf  CIYQ4ML_hu.pdf  CIYQ4ML_nl.pdf  CIYQ4ML_sl.pdf

CIYQ4ML_de.pdf  CIYQ4ML_it.pdf  CIYQ4ML_pl.pdf  CIYQ4ML_th.pdf

CIYQ4ML_el.pdf  CIYQ4ML_iw.pdf  CIYQ4ML_pt.pdf  CIYQ4ML_zh.pdf

CIYQ4ML_en.pdf  CIYQ4ML_ja.pdf  CIYQ4ML_ro.pdf  CIYQ4ML_zh_tw.pdf


installdiagrams/  quickstart/


quickstart/  vers/


CIZP2ML_ar.pdf  CIZP2ML_es.pdf  CIZP2ML_kk.pdf  CIZP2ML_sk.pdf

CIZP2ML_bg.pdf  CIZP2ML_fr.pdf  CIZP2ML_ko.pdf  CIZP2ML_sl.pdf

CIZP2ML_ca.pdf  CIZP2ML_hu.pdf  CIZP2ML_nl.pdf  CIZP2ML_th.pdf

CIZP2ML_de.pdf  CIZP2ML_it.pdf  CIZP2ML_pt.pdf  CIZP2ML_zh.pdf

CIZP2ML_el.pdf  CIZP2ML_iw.pdf  CIZP2ML_ro.pdf  CIZP2ML_zh_tw.pdf

CIZP2ML_en.pdf  CIZP2ML_ja.pdf  CIZP2ML_ru.pdf


FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_br.pdf     FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_ko.pdf

FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_cs_CZ.pdf  FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_ro.pdf

FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_en.pdf     FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_sk.pdf

FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_fr.pdf     FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_th.pdf

FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_hr.pdf     FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_zh_CN.pdf

FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_hu.pdf     FormsExpBuilder_v8.5_qsg_zh_TW.pdf


bill@san-domino:/dl/ibm.software/connections5$ ls -F qsg[23]/quickstart


WAS8.5_nd_qsg_br.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_fr.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_ro.pdf

WAS8.5_nd_qsg_cs.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_hu.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_ru.pdf

WAS8.5_nd_qsg_de.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_it.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_zh_CN.pdf

was8.5_nd_qsg_en.htm  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_ja.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_zh_TW.pdf

WAS8.5_nd_qsg_en.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_ko.pdf

WAS8.5_nd_qsg_es.pdf  WAS8.5_nd_qsg_pl.pdf


de/  en/  es/  fi/  fr/  it/  ja/  ko/  nl/  pt/  sv/  zh-cn/  zh-tw/
bill@san-domino:/dl/ibm.software/connections5$ ls qsg3/quickstart/en

pp_qsg.htm  pp_qsg.pdf

Again, this is just with the Quick Start Guides. Unpacking the other zip/tar'ed files does not put one at ease either. With a multitude of directories, incorrect documentation, and no clear starting reference, one either tries the Knowledge Center (which omits some details), keeps Googling, or contacts IBM tech support. Neither option is attractive for a business partner, let alone a customer simply trying to decide if they want to buy the product.

Installation Complexity Worsens with Each Release

Connections 1.0 became a starting point to a new strategic solution, so IBM had levity in lacking a simplified installation approach, as Connections was just basically five independent projects fused to create something better. Once IBM released version 2.0, that was the time to start creating installation efficiency, as a means to also accelerate adoption. In theory, with each successive product getting better (e.g. 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0), so would the installation. Several customers to which I communicated agreed on this facet.

Rather than improving the installation process or at least offering one, IBM chose to ignore this component altogether, instead solely adding more features and capabilities to Connections. Yes, any marketplace expects new items with successive releases, but you also want avoid alienating the respective customer's internal support team that can help drive their own adoption. Although conjecture, I suspect this abject complexity is part of the reason domestic adoption is slower than IBM would like -- despite having a decent product. Why? If customers can not install it, how are they going to test it? Not everyone wants to put their data into Greenhouse to gain a perspective.

Even now with Connections 5.0, the current product manager --- whom I know and respect very much --- does not see the value add of an admin UI for on-premises, instead Connections still relies upon a complex set of XML files. The compromise is to purchase a third-party administration tool. So after a customer spends tens of thousands of dollars on consulting, IBM licensing, hardware, and server OS licenses, they have to spend more money to get an admin tool from a non-IBM source. The XML approach is appropriate for a new product, but after version 3.0 an effective admin UI should become a core capability to help drive adoption. To be fair, IBM does offer an admin UI for their cloud offering, as it is a cloud specific architecture solution.

Looking at CCM for Connections 5 -- despite it being an add-on for the main product -- provides a suboptimal acquisition experience. One has to go to Fix Central and Passport Advantage to get all four files, and the required files list is omitted from system requirements, for starters.

Sametime used to be simple to install, then IBM decided to include the DB2 and Websphere brands into the Sametime ICS product offering. Version 8.5.1 took a long time to install; it's not much better now.

Once you install all these pieces -- for CCM, Connections, Sametime, et alia, you then have to try an patch them. This is hardly a trivial matter, with so many components the wrong lower level patch can cause stability problems. In contrast, if you patch a Domino server, it takes a minute or less; to remove the patch, just run the same patch program again. That is a great workflow design.

"The Customer Is Always Right," Remains Apropos As They are Paying

Customer Case #1:
My first ST 8.5.1 customer had me write a step-by-step, screenshot-by-screenshot document customized for their installation so that they could re-create what I did for them, in-case of a disaster or business continuity scenario. The final document equated 165 slides -- taking several days to write, plus editing time and customer input. The initial plan was for them to watch me install Sametime while capturing my actions, as they needed to know everything; that changed quickly.

The process required several escalated calls with tech support to get it all resolved. The process took far too long for my liking and began costing me money with other opportunities. Really difficult for a busy customer to dedicate the time to install it.

After tuning this customer's new ST staging environment, I provided a 1000% performance gain over their ST 7 Windows installation. Despite my success, the customer went with a different solution. Devastating to me. The customer called me to give me the decision and I enquired, "Why?" "Simply put, we do not have the resources to do the installation (of the full architected solution)." "I could do it for you." "You did Phase I. We need to own it now and we can not. It's dead."

Not only did I lose out on a lucrative Phase II consulting gig, but IBM lost out on licensing for a multi-national firm wanting every Sametime component offered (except A/V, which had issues with crossing subdomains at the time).

Customer Case #2:
A local BP learned of my aforementioned success and referred me to a senior-level colleague who wanted Sametime for their medical center. I co-authored a proposal for Sametime 8.5.1 and it went stale. I asked the BP, "What happened?" The customer loved what I did with the BP's friend's company, but management became baffled why such a significant percentage of the quote was dedicated to installation. They wanted to install it themselves to save money and then realized that would not work. Despite several calls to save the opportunity, the customer went in a new direction.

Simplified Installation Epitomized - IBM Domino

Now let's contrast the above issues to Domino...

Get the file from Passport Advantage, expand the tarball, execute the installer, and the installation routine handles all of the sub-program installations for you. Nice and easy.

bill@san-domino:/ibm.software/nd9/linux64/domino$ ls
860334080 Mar 21  2013 DOMINO_SERVER_9.0_LINUX_XS_64_EN.tar
145909760 Mar 21  2013 DOMI_SE_EMEX_AO_9.0_LIN_XS_64_EN_FW.tar

Expanding the first file provides a simple lucid starting point for the customer - "install"

eclipsemodssrc.zip  install  mozillamodssrc.zip  remote_script.dat  tools/  unix_response.dat

So why is IBM unwilling to take this great concept and apply it to other products
-- particularly those that are comprehensive? The sales mantra of "Just go to the cloud," is not a substitute for having your customers enjoy owning an installation medium they prefer.

Moving to the Cloud Is Not a Panacea

The on-ramp to the cloud should not be an escape from proper design. Lacking a quick fix to some negative feedback on installation complexity several years ago, as SmartCloud was coming to maturity as a solution, IBM's initial response lay dormant and they worked on their cloud first strategic initiative, rather than improving the installation processes in parallel -- in my opinion and based upon my experience. Once SmartCloud evolved as a platform as did its offerings, the phrase, "You can always use [Connections and Sametime] in the cloud," became the official complexity work-around--again in my opinion and based upon my experience. This also became the SMB solution for Connections and Sametime, which for reasons I mentioned is not always a solution for them -- particularly Swiss companies.

Customer Case #3:
I spoke with a valued customer last week. They made it clear that "The cloud" is not a strategic initiative for them--with any vendor. They love Sametime and have every component of ST 9 installed but one -- A/V. Why? "We got the SOW for the installation of that Sametime piece and it was a non-starter. We are not paying any more than we already have to install Sametime, plus we would need two more servers." Their owner wanted to perform video conferences and thought they had that capability with Sametime. To his dismay, they started the bidding process with a different vendor.

"The on-ramp to the cloud should not be an escape from proper design."

IBM's sales premise of, "If the process is too complex, just go to the cloud," took a tight customer relationship and opened the door to a slew of competitor bids. Having a wrapped installation procedure akin to Domino's approach would prevent competition from creeping into trusted customer areas that IBM previously owned. I would also offer that providing an appliance for Connections 5 and Sametime 9 would also go a long way to keeping customer relationships in the IBM camp. The ideal situation would be an appliance image sold on IBM iron, but with the divestiture to Lenovo, the best they could offer now is an image for on-disk or VMware. Know that in 2011, I made reference to how a lack of effective marketing weakens relationships in the same way.

Come to the Table with a Solution

I learned early in my career that if you complain in lieu of helping solve, you are being spiteful. In college, I started writing installation wrappers when I got tired of running successive make commands to compile my C programs 30+ times a session; my team liked my offering and we used it for the rest of the project. Thus, Domino's ease of installation attracted me to it as a solution. To keep things simple, there are two plausible options to address the installation complexity and keep customers content with business partners offering more services.
1. Offer an installation script that checks for the DB2 version, checks the WAS version, and then asks some questions and installs the products in the correct order with little fuss, all while displaying an accurate histogram
2. Provide the aforementioned appliance option. I know two colleagues of mine have offered to create their own build for Connections and Sametime, but the IBM licensing model prevents such a solution; as licensing adjustments are non-trivial in nature, this could take time to complete, but it should be considered and offered

IBM knows what products they require to have Connections and Sametime work. They can check for the existence of previous RDBMS (DB2) installation and flag an upgrade or issue, same for the Tivoli, Cognos, and FileNet components. Otherwise, install them as needed. This takes work. It is easier to tell people, "Go to the cloud." But if I learned anything in my 20+ years in IT, the easy solution is almost never the best solution.

In my genuine spirit of collaboration, if the respective product managers would like a more lucid vision of either of the above, I am happy to talk with them.


Lacking the above two solutions currently results in good community members spending days, nights, weekends learning to install a product --- usually on their time --- rather than committing that time to tuning, extending, customizing the product for our customers/our boss. This is a completely backwards model, in my opinion. Domino had it right in 1990. Why complicate to absurd levels your cornerstone social product to the point that most customers are unable to install it sans a consultant and your own technical writers are unable to capture accurate the process? The Domino model is hardly passe, regardless of your feelings on Domino. How many Zero to Hero sessions did Domino have to install it? None, that I'm aware. Connections and Sametime offer 200 page slide decks at previous Lotusphere/Connect events, and the current Sametime 9 deck is 950 slides (though part covers marketing and new features). Yes, I am glad these decks are available, but they should not be required.

An application is only as strong as its weakest feature. When customers are unable to install your product, they never discover how strong or weak a product is. In the end, when they learn that maintenance, upgrades, and general administration become more complex rather than easier with each successive release, you open the door to competitors with better ideas. Any OEM that outsources documentation to tech support or their BP community to complete and perform QA, installation fortitude to the customer, and general maintenance to their own consulting arm is destined for a wake-up call. I am grateful to IBM for all that their great products provided me and scores of my colleagues over the past two decades. I can only hope that IBM makes a earnest effort to regain one of their software hallmarks -- ease of installation.

Additional Reading

IBM Sametime 8.5.2 Administration Guide - Gabriella Davis, Marie L. Scott, and Thomas Duff
Installing the Sametime Gateway - Chris Miller

1Sean Cull (@seancull)  8/26/14 1:21:43 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue


thanks for putting the effort into writing this - I am sure that it took a lot of time and care and I hope that IBM appreciate it.

The complexity of the Sametime and Connections install has definitely put a lot of Business Partners off getting involved with those products - which was detrimental to everyone.

I know that OpenNTF has promoted some IBM pre-assembled on-premises connections environments that are available to developers. I guess this approach works OK for development but when you come to upgrading a live system with data and customisations it is more difficult. There again I guess there is not a lot of data held in Sametime ?

2Mick Moignard  8/26/14 1:49:41 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

Hear hear. This insane complexity that seems to be striking at everything is a large part of what is making me think its time to move on. Not just connections, but even "simple" things like modern programming are so much more complicated than they used to be, and I think far more complex than they need to be, either.

3Paul Withers  8/26/14 2:01:37 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

I think this complexity is why many Domino customers (most?) have not taken up the entitlement to Connections Files and Profiles that has been available since 8.5. And the same for embedded experiences in 9.0.

I think it's also behind a lot of the concern about the backend of Mail Next - not that there may be non-Domino aspects to it, but that there may be the kind of complexity with Connections that means no one ends up installing it.

A great product is no good if people cannot install it easily.

4Henning Heinz  8/26/14 3:19:54 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

I am always surprised that people care so much about IBM revenues.

For the full year, IBM's 2013 revenue was reported at $99.8 billion. The software division is extremely profitable (and has been for many years).Many of their problems currently are with hardware.

Sometimes I wished IBM would struggle a bit so that they would have to adjust their strategy but as IBM in most cases only reacts with cost cuttings am not even sure this would help.

As long as customers pay more for less this is not going to change and IBM is not the only vendor doing this.

Personally this is a problem because my customers want smarter software products but there must be some companies worldwide that still buy IBM and if it does not work they are buying their services too.

Business wise this seems to be a great concept and the revenue IBM loses with their cost cutting strategy is being adressed with a myriad of acquisitions.

Star Analytics, UrbanCode, SoftLayer, Trusteer, Daeja Image Systems, The Now Factory, Xtify, Fiberlink Communications, Aspera, Cloudant, Silverpop Systems, CrossIdeas, Lighthouse Security Group and those are acquisitions since 2013.

5Alexey Zimarev  8/26/14 3:22:32 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

Agree, absolutely. Whilst Connections is still manageable but Sametime footprint went out of control. New components like MCU and VideoManager demand insane resources from servers, cannot be virtualized and can only be installed on RHEL.

6Keith Brooks  8/26/14 6:11:44 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

Bill, Solid post. While I see your points, I see some of them in reverse, hear me out, I am not pro or con you or IBM.

Complexity=$$$ and IBM, and ourselves as BPs, are in this to make money. Yes, it scares off some people that installation costs more than the whole licensing, but such is life. I do not see this changing anytime soon.

An appliance would be nice and has been discussed by the many groups inside IBM ever since the infamous Lotus Foundation Server. It would help speed everything up and reduce the cost, perhaps. But it would be a massive server(s) and in truth small companies just don't want that expense or size to get what they can get for near free from a Cloud. If they want in house systems, then they have to pay up now. The days of cheap Domino shops, which I have advocated for years was the wrong way to sell/pitch your Domino infrastructures, is over.

You and I can install Domino in our sleep. Some of us can do the same with ST and a few even with Connections. If you recall what it was like pre-DOmino era, when R4 was really tinker toyed together, that is how I see Connections now. The difference was Notes had a huge footing that was growing. Connection is growing, but at a slower pace (my opinion, not IBMs) but has certainly picked up more steam since R5 of Connections came out.

R5 Domino is when Domino really took off, maybe R5 Connections is that catalyst as well.

Should it be easier or harder to install something today, over 10-15 years ago? Much harder I say. Look at all we now deal with at security levels, directory levels, international languages, various hardware platforms. I think it is a challenge to us all.

Patching is a nightmare and we do need a better "surveying app" to let us know which pieces need to be updated.

See you soon if not before Orlando.

7Carl Tyler  8/26/14 6:26:12 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

I've been telling IBM this for years.

If you're a partner that does customer deployments this is initially good news, you'll be busy doing installs. But, the number of customers you'll have in the future will go down, as they will have moved to other easier to manage and maintain platforms.

I saw the following, customers spent so much getting the installation done they had no budget left to do integration projects with the installed software. So for example, Sametime is getting used purely for IM, not integrated into workflow processes or other applications, know what the means? It means it's easy to switch out with a different vendors solution when they want to, no tie, no value add, no increased ROI.

All this stuff is poor planning on IBMs part, it's all short term gain, that will impact them in the future.

8David Schaffer  8/26/14 6:57:37 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

As a small user (30 seats) there was never a chance we would implement Connections and Sametime 9 in house. The resources required are too much even if we had a partner do the setup. The options are stick with Domino-based systems, go to the cloud, or go to a competitive product. We're still running Sametime 8 and Quickr while planning our next move.

9Bill Malchisky  8/26/14 7:01:54 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

@1, 2, 3: Thanks, Sean, Mick, and Paul.

Yes a lot of time on this Sean; I appreciate your noticing the effort. Intersting take on other partners not getting involved too.

@3 - good point on slow adoption.

@4 - Not sure about others Henning, but I know revenue is what IBM understands and in the spirit of offering a professional perspective to affect a positive change, I utilized familiar terms. No successful company likes losing revenue

Thanks for commenting too.

10Bill Malchisky  8/26/14 7:06:10 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

@6 - Keith...

Clients have fixed budgets for projects. If a significant percentage is consumed by just installing and patching the product before you can do anything, then the funds usually set aside for performance tuning, configuration, and training disappear. Installation should be a trivial event, comparatively speaking. The business partner seeking to extend, customize, or tune a quality enterprise product should spend the bulk of their time there, and let installation be simple and efficient. Calling technical support during installation increases costs for everyone involved.

There is a difference between short-term gains and the longer-term perspective with customers. Complexity can create an immediate cash influx, but also less work overall. I've seen this many times when on projects and managers gripe about other vendors.

Microsoft understands the easy installation model and well, they have more marketshare now.

11Bill Malchisky  8/26/14 7:12:23 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

@7 - Thanks, Carl. So few people understand the constrast of tactical cash flow versus strategic gains. The customers for which I've been doing busiess for several years provide the most work.

It is very difficult to remain solvent on one-and-done opportunities, year-over-year.

@8 - and not everyone wants data in the cloud, particularl with the NSA issue on non-local data. I think an appliance akin to the Protector model could be a fourth permutation.

12Warren Elsmore  8/26/14 7:13:34 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

I'm 'on the outside' now, so my comments amount to approximately nothing. but..... ;-)

I had a similarly bad experience with IBM's archiving solution - which was SO bad I've even forgotten the name. The install documentation for that one talked you through how to create the database schema. It was that terrible...

I had the thought then, and believe it even more now, that if I were the person responsible for procurement there is NO WAY that I would accept a cost for the software, then a separate cost for the installation. My business wants the end result, not a series of separate things happening to do something. If I were in charge, I'll pay you for something or nothing at all.

As an aside - In my micro business, it's why I've moved my mail to Office365. It just works and I just pay for the end product. No need to worry about the install time, hosting costs etc etc - EVEN THOUGH I can do that for free myself. The ROI doesn't stack up.

If customers don't want a cloud solution and are happy (dumb?) enough to pay IBM consulting the money to install it, then good for them and IBM I guess. But I've seen seven digit (GBP) pieces of work go ahead to install a single piece of software FOR PILOT and I know for a fact that the project subsequently tanked and the sale was never made. Too expensive to recover the install costs apparently...

13Mick Moignard  8/26/14 8:08:50 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

@12: Warren, CommonStore? Could the installation at Unipart be the one you remember?

14Richard Moy  8/26/14 8:25:58 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

As a business partner that focuses on the SMB market, this is a primary reason why IBM Connections and all its version will never penetrate this market and why they are losing market share in this area. You can say that IBM is only focused on the enterprise which is true. However, the SMB market is the core that support the enterprise. Sometime I even complain about installing Domino being too long. You have other platforms that are coming up that are simpler and easier to install and implement. These are the platforms that IBM will be competing with. They may not be fully enterprise ready but they are coming up fast and are being used by enterprise already. One example is Nodejs. To me as a Connections newbie, if it requires that much of a mess to install, than it is a reflection of how these components are integrated together. We tried recently to install Sametime 9 and gave up and we internally are no longer using Sametime. We recently were completing our Notes 9.01 training course and wanted to install Sametime 9 entry are part of our course. After trying many times we determined that we did not have the hardware nor patience to install it. We ask all our customer what version they were planning to use with Notes 9 and the answer was Sametime 8.52. They found that Sametime 9 was just too much trouble for them to invest into for now. And these are really big enterprise companies. So just like having a bad UI having a bad installation process will prevent companies from accepting and using your product.

15Darren Duke  8/26/14 10:50:57 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

If Connections were a waterbed, there would be a whole lot of water, but not much area to sleep on.

At it's heart it seem relatively modest product suite offering over complicated by the appearance of a skunk-works like development and production process. As a really smart person once said to me "IBM makes software for IBM". Lest we all not forget that.

16Luis Benitez  8/26/14 10:54:18 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

Thanks for sharing. I've shared this internally with our team.

17Jeremiah Benjamin  8/26/14 11:52:24 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

Bill, great post and as a smaller customer we definitely have been hit with this issue increasingly over the past few years. Cloud would be nice, but I don't see it happening for us anytime soon (management decision).

For the benefit of anyone interested, here is a brief history:

We first deployed Sametime at version 8.5.1. The initial cost (consulting, licensing, hardware) to deploy was surprising, but acceptable, given that it was entirely brand new for us and we wanted to "do it right". It has worked very well for us, especially the webmeetings, so no regrets. But, as everyone knows, A/V didn't work well in 8.5.x. Thus when ST9 was launched with "new and improved A/V" I pitched for it. "We already own the licensing," I told approvers, "and we already have the hardware. All we need to do is pay someone to do the upgrade." Sounded like a no-brainer! But, alas. It's really a full rip-and-replace -- hardly the "I'll run the installer this weekend" process I use with Domino. Furthermore, the extra cost in consulting time for the "new and improved" A/V components was not approved. Recently we needed to give a series of video conferences, so we went with a competitor's solution which was very simple to setup. It lacks the level of integration, yes, but it works well enough.

As Carl's post above points out, we still haven't had anything left over (in time or $) for integrating Sametime with phone systems, custom applications, our web site, etc. So the overall feeling is we've bought a full-size farm tractor but all we do is mow the lawn with it. It COULD do more, yes, but we've already spent enough on it just getting it running.

Now we're looking at Connections and the sheer complexity of it really begs for an appliance option. Keith's argument that smaller companies would not want an appliance is, I think, true -- if IBM only shipped a "one size fits all" physical server. But I was thinking more in terms of a VM-based appliance. (We also use Protector, and one of the great things of that system is that it's pre-packaged as an appliance that runs on a VM. It's very simple to manage, upgrade and extend.)

We already happen to own licensing for Connections as well as all the hardware necessary for all the VMs, but the approval for consulting has stalled somewhat because of the sticker shock. This is not how it should be. It will become increasingly difficult to pitch these projects because the cost of implementation seems to increase with every upgrade because the complexity increases.

If IBM released these as the beta, I would be completely happy with that. Then IBM could put a couple months into making a nice installation process and/or coming up with the VM-based appliances before launching the product officially. If they do that, we'd still be paying the same money for consulting but, going back to Carl again, we would be integrating with other stuff in our environment and deriving more business value from it. That's when it becomes easy to approve new purchases again, and that's what I would love to see.

I think IBM's overall strategy is solid, the products are solid, but the "hidden" costs of implementation are not in line with other systems we use.

18Nathan T. Freeman  8/26/14 2:16:30 PM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

Had to go back in the archives to find this one, from Feb 2007, I'll quote myself...

"The zombie horse takes another beating over at Ed's -- where a bunch of people joining in again to complain about IBM's marketing to the SMB sector. I have mixed feelings about how IBM handles their marketing in this regard, but I think it's much more important to think about how IBM handles their product strategy.

I've been pretty vocal before about how disappointed I am in IBM's new tendency to put relatively simple products on these uber-platforms, where the technical expertise required to deploy jumps by an order of magnitude. It's a personal pet-peeve because I've been so passionate about usability lately. But I've also come to believe that this is an important part of marketing to SMBs, where the single most important marketing tool available is AUDITIONING. Every business manager that I've ever known in organizations of < 1000 people has the same question about every new piece of technology: When can I try it out?

Here's the simple question to ask yourself: what does the CEO of a 200 person company have to do to try out, say, blogging? He can start something at Typepad or Blogger or MSN in 10 minutes, right? What if he wants to host it inside his own domain? What does he have to do to try it out on Wordpress? On Sharepoint? On Domino?

What about trying out email? With gmail, all you need is a credit card and 15 minutes to fill out a web page. Don't like the risks involved with that approach? What does it take to get an Exchange server up and running? What about a Domino server? What can you get results on sooner?

So what if he wants to try out instant messaging? What does it take to get the different options running? AIM vs. Trillian vs. MSN Messenger vs. Sametime? If even EVALUATING competing choices requires 100 times the effort on one versus the other, do you think that's going to be a decision criteria? It certainly is for me. And that's why I get bent out of shape when I see what the setup requirements are for IBM's new Sametime Gateway, or Activities server, or, I fear, Lotus Connections.

One of the saving graces of the Domino platform is that, although it can be somewhat intimidating to actually buy it, it's at least fairly easy to try it. It requires some determination, but you can figure out where to download it for free, and you can run the install on just about any box in your environment. And you can get visible results inside of an hour. That has allowed it to be an exploratory technology. It doesn't require heavy commitment.

And while I appreciate the engineering brilliance of something like the Activities server, the truth is that in an organization of < 1000 users, no one really needs the scaling capacity of a DB2 backend, do they? So when a product gets brought to market that requires a terabyte RDBMS behind it, then it's automatically off the radar screen in smaller organizations.

The transaction cost of working with IBM software is simply too high.


And this is what I think a lot of people secretly mean when they complain about IBM's marketing to SMBs. There's awareness -- nobody in business doesn't know who IBM is, or fails to realize they offer an incredibly wide array of software to businesses of all types. But turning to Microsoft or Google frequently happens because it's just so easy to do. Even if there isn't already a relationship, it's going to be very easy to figure out how to get one. There is very little learning curve involved in setting up a gmail account or installing the latest version of Exchange.

That's one of the reasons the business segments of those companies profit from their consumer ventures -- the consumer relationships reduce the transaction costs of working with them on a business level. No, it's not the ONLY reason. Yes, there's a lot of emotion involved. Yes,there's some technology involved. But don't underestimate the importance of these transactions costs. When a company has to make an investment in IBM simply in order to find out what's in their product catalog, that's a big barrier. It's like driving 300 miles to shop for a car -- you'll do it if you need a fleet of 10. You aren't going to swing by there to take a test drive.

How can this get fixed? A big part of it is product strategy. IBM should decide that it hasn't delivered a solution to the SMB market until the solution is auditionable. And that means it has to be easy to find and easy to try. Imagine this: what if you took all the people that write install and setup routines and made them report to SMB marketing instead of product dev? How would that change priorities? How much more trial would your best products get? "

19Bill Malchisky  8/26/14 2:37:58 PM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

@12 - Warren, as an outsider now, your comments are quite valuable to me and sage in that you chose what was best for our needs and simplicity won

@14 - Great insight and examples, Richard

@15 - Nice analogy, Darren

@16 - Thank you for reading, Luis. I appreciate your sharing this post.

@17 - Jeremiah -- excellent comment; awesome case study to which I would like IBM to take to heart.

@18 - Spot-on.

20Soumitra Limaye  8/27/14 3:11:05 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

Thanks Bill for the feedback. Has been shared internally.

21Lars Berntrop-Bos  8/27/14 6:20:51 AM  IBM’s Lost Art of Installation is Costing Them Revenue

Hear hear.

22Bill Malchisky  8/27/14 6:24:45 AM  Follow-up

@20 - Appreciate the interest, Soumitra

@21 - Thanks for the support, Lars.

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