This is a biggie

by Volker Weber

Dr. Donald Ferguson is a Microsoft Technical Fellow in Platforms and Strategy, in the Office of the CTO. ... Prior to joining Microsoft, Don was an IBM Fellow and Chief Architect for IBM’s Software Group (SWG).

More at Microsoft and at IBM.

Don's blog at IBM is already gone. Simon Phipps asks an interesting question:

It seems that, now he works for Microsoft, his views are retrospectively unacceptable. Or is there another explanation?

Update: In an about face Don's blog at IBM is back.


See I don't see this as a biggie. If he had been hit by a bus, IBM surely could keep going, if he goes to Microsoft I think the same.

Carl Tyler, 2007-01-16

That is true for every human being, including those who need 15,000 police to visit an ally.

Volker Weber, 2007-01-16

Don't worry, they still have me. Father of!

Bob Balfe, 2007-01-17

Exactly Volker. IBM should not be dependant on any single person, if they are then something is wrong.

Carl Tyler, 2007-01-17

Carl, agreed. But to clarify, when I posted about this, I was getting at a couple of things (probably similar to Volker):

1. This news, in and of itself, is note-worthy. It is a big deal when someone like Don moves to the main competitor.

2. Is there anything happening at IBM to make talents like Don, Bob C, Charlie, Gary D and half of the old Iris crew jump ship?

Ben Poole, 2007-01-17

And not only that, wiping the trails (e.g. killing the blog and everything he wrote in there as an IBMer) is as if they're denying the worth of his work for them. Of course, IBM shouldn't depend on any single person, not even in part. But it is possible not to depend on the person, but still, when s/he leaves the company keep honoring the output of her/his work, even if that means a blog with his name on it remains accessible. Or am I totally wrong here?

Ragnar Schierholz, 2007-01-17

Removing Don’s weblog makes no sense, and of course violates the whole concept of the URI, permalinks, etc., etc. I wonder if Don will start blogging again within MS? (Without Passport protection mind).

Ben Poole, 2007-01-17

Is there anything happening at IBM to make talents like Don, Bob C, Charlie, Gary D and half of the old Iris crew jump ship?It is hardly fair to put an IBM Fellow in this company, and I don't recall any point of 50% attrition of "the old Iris crew".

When you look at the list of speakers at Lotusphere next week, there are dozens of names of people who have worked on these products a very long time. Any organization has attrition, and yes, sometimes to competitors. And sometimes those that move are happy and sometimes they're not.

At the moment there are more people building Notes/Domino 8 than any prior release.

As I said privately to vowe yesterday, I had never heard of Don Ferguson until this news broke. He probably has never heard of me.

As for the removal of the blog, I don't have any insider scoop. It does raise interesting questions about "corporate blogging" and what the expectation should be around a blog remaining in place past one's departure from an organization. Would Sun leave Jonathan Stern's blog up on if he suddenly left for Redmond? Prolly not.

Ed Brill, 2007-01-17

In fact Sun (Jonathan Schwartz ) have already stated they have a policy of leaving blogs in place and removing the content, as it may be useful to the remaining people in the co. or even that they could continue should they return at a later stage to the thats a good positive policy.

Paul Bunnell, 2007-01-17

Ben, Is there anything happening at IBM to make talents like Rocky Oliver, Bob Balaban, Steve Castledine, Brian Benz, Stephen Wissel, and others come work here?

Alan Lepofsky, 2007-01-17

Yes. Paychecks.

Dave Armstrong, 2007-01-17

I'd imagine Don is getting a paycheck at Microsoft as well ;-)

Alan Lepofsky, 2007-01-17

Alan, how many Fellows are there within SWG? Let me help you. This page lists 13, one of them being Don Ferguson. So far I have met four IBM Fellows: Don Ferguson, Irene Greif, Mike Cowlishaw, Nick Shelness. Nick has left IBM, Don is now at Microsoft, Mike invented REXX (don't know what he is up to now) and we know what Irene does.

I maintain that Don is a big loss for IBM.

Volker Weber, 2007-01-17

Alan: what compels people to come work for IBM? Hey, you work there, you tell me! :o)

OK, my comment re Iris was off-base and somewhat inflammatory, I apologise for that. When I think of Iris I think of people like Ned Batchelder, Bob Congdon, Mike Kudla, Damien Katz, Gary Devendorf (and many others), all of whom are long-gone.

But then of course I also think of worthies like Maureen Leland, Julie Kadashevich and Jeff Eisen so fair enough.

I must confess to being surprised that Ed didn’t know who Don was—according to his departed website he did work with the Lotus business unit.

Ben Poole, 2007-01-17

Hi Volker, my comments above in no way disagrees with your thoughts around Don leaving being some type of big deal. I was simply responding to Ben's list of "people that have left IBM", with a list of "people who have joined IBM". I honestly have no idea about Don's motives for leaving. Does he like Seattle? Does he like the challenge of starting over at new company? Did he get a huge pay check? Was he unhappy at IBM? I don't know. I can tell you I work for the head of Lotus strategy, and I've never worked with Don, so as to his influence over Lotus, well if it was there, it was either above my level, or more likely it was over on the Development side.

Do I think removing his blog is wrong? Absolutely! I'd love to hear why that was done.

Ben, why do I work at IBM? Simple. I really like it here. I am excited about what is going on at Lotus. So that you know I am not "just all marketing fluff", of course there are things I disagree with and things I'd like to see us do differently. I get offers from MS, Google, and others all the time (usually for much more money!), but I stay at IBM because they have treated me well over the years, and provide me flexibility that I've not been offered anywhere else. I can work at home. I can work in Toronto. I can work at Starbucks. My performance is judged by what I accomplish, not what hours of the day or what location I do it from. I feel like my voice is heard, and I make a difference here. That is why I like working at IBM.

Alan Lepofsky, 2007-01-17

People move around for lots of different reasons, and in my experience, it's usually more for personal reasons than for technical reasons.

Take my example: before joining IBM, I considered serveral options; one of them was working for Microsoft. In the end, I chose IBM because I had an opportunity to work with some very interesting new technologies and a great group of people. My little group
was a small company recently acquired by IBM, so I get the best of both the startup and big corporate worlds....Also, like Alan, at IBM I can work from anywhere (MS pretty much requires that you move to Redmond). And my experience so far has exceeded expectations!

So what I'm saying is that unless you know the details of Don's situation, I wouldn't read much into the reasons for his move.

As for the blog being deleted, that's one of the reasons I like to pay for my blog outside of IBM (I have a typepad blog). I'm not planning on going anywhere, but I like my blog to be my own....

Brian Benz, 2007-01-17

The blog is back online, at the previous address, but with a comment
Mr. Ferguson is no longer an employee of IBM.

Yury Kats, 2007-01-17

Alan, Brian, thanks for the insight. Offers from MS, Google et al you say?

I’m clearly in the wrong role ;o)

Ben Poole, 2007-01-17

And in related news, Catherine Helzermann is returning to IBM.

Ed Brill, 2007-01-17

How is Catherine related to Don? And pardon my ignorance, who is she and what is she going to do for IBM?

Volker Weber, 2007-01-17

Catherine Helzermann's LinkedIn page. I'd never heard of her before either but IBM is a really big place. I'd known about Don Ferguson at IBM since 1997 or so. I was in a couple of review meetings with him. He was a big deal on the development side, "Father of WebSphere" and all of that. But Ed had never heard of him before. From what I see of Catherine's resume and web presense, she's a big deal with analysts and PR people.

Bob Congdon, 2007-01-17

And just to be clearer, I don't think there's any connection between Don and Catherine, except that one left IBM and the other returned.

Bob Congdon, 2007-01-17

Wow, Catherine left IBM in October 2006, and is returning now. That’s some turn-around! My notice period doesn’t even cover doing that.

Is Sun’s PR really that bad? ;o)

Ben Poole, 2007-01-17

James Governor has provided a bit more detail about Don in his post Don Ferguson joins Microsoft. 5 things you didn't know:
Don was a seriously heavy hitter at IBM. He has taken lumps from people in the past, including me, but some of those barbs were undoubtedly unfair. After all when you’re at the very apex of the IBM Software Group tree its kind of hard to take a hardcore lesscode approach...
Don, like Jon Udell, another new Microsoft hire, is a PHP fan (take that, astronaut accusers…)

Ben Poole, 2007-01-18

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