Thursday, June 26, 2008

Here It Comes

With a requirement in-hand for a business system that requires Microsoft products on the back-end, we've begun our analysis of a Microsoft-centric technology stack versus the Novell solution we have in place today.

The results thus far have been pretty surprising. I could actually save money by going with Microsoft products to meet our requirements, and increase the functionality we provide our users. The annual maintenance-only costs for MS licenses (the Core CAL) is about half of what Novell's NOWS maintenance runs. The cost of the license is a bit higher, but is masked by the ability to finance the license cost for free over a 3 year term. The net result is that, year over year, I'd spend less with Microsoft for equivalent functionality, and would get SharePoint for free - which people are almost yelling for around here.

Microsoft has done a lot to improve the quality and stability of their products, as well as to bring their features closer to level with those to which we're accustomed in the Novell realm. When you look at all of the third-party integration points, and the benefits to be extracted by leveraging them, it's a very compelling proposition.

Those who know me will know that it's a very painful thing to admit, but it's no secret that I consider the Novell of my past to be long since dead. The people who knew how to envision, build, and maintain these products are long gone. Before much longer, we won't be able to get any help migrating, and doing so is an inevitability for us. I wish those who can continue on as they are the best of luck, but fighting it just for the sake of fighting it is a proposition that adds no value.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Look, I'm really proud that your organization has deployed Office 2007. Now get over yourselves and change the default file format back to Office XP / 2003 compatibility mode, so that you don't make your customers and external colleagues feel like idiots for asking "What's a docx (or xlsx) - can't you just send it to me as a Word doc (or Excel sheet)?"

ESPECIALLY for Mac users, who don't have the luxury of an Excel or PowerPoint "compatibility pack" in Office 2004.

Thank you,
The World

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Tough loss

This week saw me experience the first ever of my employees to resign. Tough, tough loss.

I've had Help Desk contractors who have left to do other things, which is what I prepare them to do since there are rarely opportunities for them to come on-board.

I've had employees that I've wanted to fire, but thankfully haven't, because it helped me get better at coaching problematic individuals and poor performers.

This one was a high performing, ambitious, young professional. If one should always be looking for their replacement as a way to facilitate their own upward mobility, this person was to be my replacement.

I shouldn't be surprised, given that their departure is identical to a career mistake I wish I could take back. Hubris. I was going to get my way come hell or high water, and if it meant I had to quit to show how serious I was, I was going to do it. So, out the door I went to a 45% raise and better vacation and benefits and less stress. And I liked it for exactly 9 months, at which point I began to loathe it.

This employee has taught me a lot over the 5 years I've mentored him. They challenged me when I've been less than intellectually honest, when I've been less than engaged, when I've bordered on doing something rash in the name of righteousness, when I've been unnecessarily rigid in my beliefs or decisions.

Leading this individual has also reinforced to me some lessons I had already learned.

Problems will always get fixed. Maybe not on the time table you'd prefer, and maybe not without having it brought to light and guarded repeatedly, but they do get fixed.

The grass is never, ever greener. The only reason this person went to another employer was because it was different. They might as well have gone to McDonald's. I've heard the pitch, the rationale, etc. - it doesn't add up. Bottom line, whether or not they were right, they believed that they were undervalued and that this fact would never ever change. Sounds awful familiar.

Hopefully I'll be able to remember and believe these lessons over the next 5 - 7 years, because there are periods of time where it's very, very difficult to keep going down this same road. I know that doesn't make my condition unique. I'd be perfectly justified in leaving, just as my departed employee was. That doesn't make leaving a good idea.

Now I have to identify who will be the next leader - either someone I have working for me already, or someone who we bring on-board specifically for the purpose. It would be tough for me to go somewhere else at this level never having lost a key employee. I'm actually looking forward to the opportunity to use this event to change some things for the better.