Wind of (ex)change

Friday, June 22, 2018 9:03 PM UTC

Since this upcoming weekend our company is using the full throttle of O365 including mail. We are using O365 stuff for quite a while now (Office stuff, Teams). As an IBM business partner we used mail with Domino on premises for years and then IBM smartcloud mail for another years aka IBM Verse.

I can’t say that I was a big fan of Verse though I really liked the clean look of it. But the lack of functionality at some points drove me crazy. Especially the missing .ics file handling was a no-go. I always had to switch to my Notes mail client in our Windows terminal server environment just to import the .ics file with Notes. Creating mail rules also wasn’t supported directly, I always had to open iNotes Web Access (Smart cloud mail).

Do you copy that? The inconsistency is what bugged me the most.

And now? Outlook. Oh boy… this is even verse erm… worse.

The good things (I really try to embrace them)

The transition went very smoothly. Via the admin page of O365 all mail accounts can be migrated by just passing the Verse password for all selected users and then just hitting a button. After this is done for the first time mails are synced from Verse later, too. This is not done in realtime but at least you don’t loose anything until the transition is complete. Calendar entries are not migrated of course as this is only using the IMAP access to the Verse mailbox. Calendar entries created via Teams are available from the beginning of course. Entries that you created only in Verse/Notes have to be exported as .ics file and then imported to the calendar in Outlook - which is a challenge as there is no UI function for it. You have to open-as the files and then choose Outlook as the app to open it. Keep this in mind, it’s just one thing on the list of inconsistencies. OWA offers an easy import for local ics files - why Microsoft, why not your mega client app?

The integration on different operating systems is also very smooth. I use all the O365 apps in the browser, on Windows, on macOS and even on iOS. Regarding the data I created everything is available and can be edited on each client. Regarding consistency (once again) there is a lot of room for improvement. The client apps are totally different. They look different, they act differently and even the settings are different and placed in different areas.

It seems like the developers are completely separated in different teams that don’t know each other. I know that from other apps that run on Windows and macOS but this is by far the biggest gap I’ve ever seen. Even the Notes client was almost a 1:1 experience.

Synchronization

To utilize the most fancy stuff I also use the iOS apps. They do what they should and the usage of touch functions (using your finger as a pencil as I don’t have a real Apple pencil yet), the really cool Office Lense app and OneNote are quite cool. I am a paying Evernote user for years now and OneNote is quite different from that. Again my problem is consistency. The Windows app looks completely different from all the others. I even think that the Windows implementation of all components is worse than on any other operating systems - which is kind of weird. I also like the „real“ Office components (Word, Powerpoint, Excel) on macOS more than I do on Windows.

The process of synchronization with OneDrive works quite smoothly, too. It’s not as fast as it is with Apple apps on iCloud (iOS and macOS) but it works. Formatting is being preserved and images are not converted and stay in place. I only use OneNote right now with Office Lense which is very handy when scanning business cards or taking photos of documents in general. James Bond would have loved it.

Mail signatures

Holy crap, this is a real pain. You have to create a signature on every single client, it is not synced. I’d accept that for the mobile apps (like Verse does) but not the client apps on Windows and Mac or even OWA - and not on the same mobile device OS. This could be synced (iPhone, iPad). OWA is the most stupid: if everything is synced with your O365 account then why the signature isn’t? That’s crap. You may want to look for third party solutions to handle your signatures in O365.

Sharepoint

I won’t do that, no, I won’t say anything positive about that. It’s a pile of shit. It’s a network drive with a web UI. It’s not even a real CMS. I just tried to create a nice looking wiki page - and, man, this was not a good experience. I finally managed to create it and - even more important - to publish it. BUT: I expected it to appear on the Sharepoint start screen in the area where I created it. Maybe even in the Team space. But nothing happened. I had to create a link and post it to our team space. This is so old fashioned. Even IBM Connections can do better. But this is another story.

Why we switched

I can assure you that these days are hard for me. The company, as a long-term IBM business partner and myself as a long-term Yellow-Bleeder and IBM Champion is now using Microsoft. A company whose products I despise from the bottom of my heart for years (esp. Windows). It’s a real pain.

But I must admit that about 80% of what I am using (not what’s available!) is working for me. This is what I cannot say about everything I used from the current IBM portfolio. I never was a fan of Connections. It was clutter, files were deposited and never found again without tagging. The social component does not make any sense to me at all (Yammer doesn’t either). Verse was a chance to reinvent mail but they missed it. We still wait for the AI stuff from Watson that was announced 2 years ago. And Watson Workspace? If I wasn’t a member of the OpenNTF board I would never use it. We switched to it (from Slack) since IBM Think. There is no benefit for me (in communication with customers or non-IBM-Watson Workspace-users) as I am not a plus member regarding the Zoom meetings stuff which would be a pro on the list for using it.

Resume

This decision wasn’t a strategic one, it was a practical one. Even the costs were not crucial. We are still using and loving Domino, the best server in the world, for development and internal apps and of course Aveedo. I am also using the Notes client with apps and data (not for mail anymore) and I also love it that way. The sad thing is that IBM does not provide a solution like O365 regarding integration. Consistency is something both players must improve. Still very hard times to evangelise products you are not 100% confident about.

 





Latest comments to this post

Andi Kress wrote on 25.06.2018, 13:54

Great Post!

We are currently also think about switching to O365, using the cool stuff like Teams (Skype for Business), e.g.:
Some of the features require also mail setup.

We have over 60 Notes databases which will stay on our running Domino 9.0.2 system.
Some of those databases using group mail functionalities, this must stay as well inside our domino environment. We will only move user mail files.

Do you also have 2 separate e-mail domain running? One for domino and one for O365?

Do you already have experience with document links inside emails. Are those also work within outlook?

I would love to here more of your experiences.

 

 

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