calendar sharing/groupware for hardy
loye.young at iycc.net
Thu Oct 11 17:54:03 UTC 2007
>You see the big picture here is that people
>need to stop using Windows on the desktop... and freeing them of Outlook
>is an important first step, as a whole swathe of users are tied to it.
This is the crux of the problem.
Although you are right that the solution should allow users not to use
Outlook, the solution needs to permit them to use it. IMNSHO, it is critical
that clients are able to continue to use Outlook if they want to. (You can
skip to the last two paragraphs if you are in a hurry and want to get to the
Let's say we have an enlightened IT manager at a company that's been addicted
to a certain legacy proprietary software platform. The manager wants to wean
the organization off of Outlook, Exchange Server, etc. What's the best
1. One way is to flip a switch and convert the servers and all the clients at
the same time, but if the company is of any size, such a strategy would bring
the company to a halt for at least a few days. The manager will be fired and
a Windows-always-and-everywhere drone will be hired as a replacement.
2. Next, one could wean the clients off Outlook first and then switch the
server from Exchange to a real groupware server later. That would in fact
work, but the manager will spend many hours of aggrevation trying to get the
Exchange server to play well with the clients. Also, since there are more
clients than servers, the number of idiosyncratic issues for the manager to
solve will be large. Then, when it comes time to convert the server, clients
will need to be worked over again to connect to the new server. This will
forever keep the IT manager and the pain of converting in the eyes of the
entire organization. A career-limiting strategy.
3. Finally, the manager could convert the server to open source first and
then gradually migrate the users from Outlook to the open source client. This
allows the manager to set up and test the server out of the sight of the
client base. When everything is working hunky-dory ("smoothly" for those not
from Texas), the manager can move clients over knowing that the server will
My thesis is that converting the servers first (# 3) is the best way. I
actually tried number 2 above one time. Huge headache, and I got blamed for
all the problems resulting from having an Exchange server backend that was
unstable and changed on every "update" from Redmond, which was almost weekly.
Back in March of this year, my boss told me that he would be very supportive
of me starting my own company (or anything else I wanted to do after my
employment ceased in two weeks).
But to make number 3 work requires that the clients be able to continue to use
Outlook to connect to the server. Besides, there will undoubtedly be some
beloved worker in the organization who always get what he or she wants.
(Usually, someone in accounting.) The beloved servant of the Lord will say to
the IT manager "I'll go along with what you want, but I cannot change my
computer because: "the auditors are coming" | "our (suppliers | customers |
bankers) require it" | "I'm too (old | young | important | ignorant) to
change". Senior management's response is "Give the beloved whatever (he |
she) wants. If that's a problem, perhaps you aren't happy working in this
organization. We want you to be happy, so no hard feelings if you need to
start looking for another job." Not every IT manager is as entrepreneurial as
I am, so this will not seem like a good alternative.
We can't force people to do what they need to do. Although they would all be
happier if they did what we tell them to do, all we can do is give them a way
to get from there to here if they want to. We gotta make it a smooth
transition. Ensuring interoperability with Outlook is an important component
of doing so.
I can't say I know what the best solution is. I don't know that anyone has
come up with the technique that will part the water and drown Pharaoh in the
Red Sea. I've heard and read great things about Kolab, which has a web
interface, depends on a reasonable and well tested base of applications, and
has interoperability with many email clients. Unfortunately, the reference
Outlook connector is proprietary (see http://www.toltec.co.za), but on
balance it's still cheaper to get rid of Exchange and migrate to open source,
with a clean migration path for the clients to switch to open source in the
Isaac & Young Computer Company
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