Petition: IBM should continue to produce Lotus-focused Redbooks

by Volker Weber

It has been leaked that the Lotus Redbooks center in Westford, MA, USA will be closed. This has been confirmed by IBM.

My take on this (and the general consensus from the blog posts I have read on the topic) is that this is a very regrettable move for those in the Lotus community that rely on Redbooks to assist with deployments, planning, upgrades and integration projects. The Redbooks provide a quality and type of documentation that is simply not found anywhere else.

Therefore, I put forward this petition for you and others to sign:

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Isn't this the same petition from before? Is this a different redbooks center to the one in Cambridge that already closed?

Carl Tyler, 2007-11-27

Yes, but it is still a good idea. :-)

Volker Weber, 2007-11-27

Given the absence of third party books on the subject, Redbooks are an invaluable resource. Where else will admin/developer/architects go to get this information without the Redbooks? Would IBM prefer to have improperly configured servers and "you can't do that with Notes" be the typical environment for their products?
I am hoping that IBM will reconsider the decision to discontinue the Redbooks for Lotus.

Ed Maloney, 2007-11-27

Uh, only 212 votes and somehow I was already on the list (as No: 37 and now as 212). Is this old news? I cannot remember that I've signed that before.. when did this particular petition get started? I am confused. Did I really sign before or did someone else sign in my name?

Sascha Reissner, 2007-11-28

I miss the Redbooks. Actually, I miss the e-mail that tells me of impending Redbooks. Lately, it is very slim.

I wouldn't be surprised if IBM/Lotus went to a Redbook-wiki or something similar. This would allow the content to be always changing (up-to-date?). But killing off the Lotus Redbooks before something else is in place makes no sense to me. I think that is Ed's point as well as many others. Where is the replacement? Where is an announcement of a replacement?

Gregg Eldred, 2007-11-28

Thank you Volker - the additional publicity is MUCH appreciated - we can only hope it does make a difference.

@Carl - this stemmed from the publicity that yourself and Volker started back in September. The petition was started on 22 September and has gradually garnered more and more support as the word as got around.

One of my central issues has been that this decision has been so very badly communicated, with (AFAIK) just the one post from Ed covering Lotus' plans for the Redbook centre and for the future of Lotus documentation. I had hoped that senior management in Lotus would have respected the significant number of signatures and (almost more importantly) the comments made on the petition and felt the need to make a public statement on the matter.

It appears that this is not the case, which I think reflects very badly on IBM's view of the Lotus community.

Stuart McIntyre, 2007-11-28

@Stuart ... do you really think 250 signatures is significant? That is not even a blip on the radar when compared to the number of Notes customers. or BPs. It is a small fraction of the people that got the books/cd/dvd free at Lotusphere.

I am not against the petition, but let's be realistic what 250 signatures means in this community. Sorry, but that is not a significant number. get 2500, and now your talking.

John Head, 2007-11-28

2500 and the Redbook Center is back? Or are you just making this up?

Volker Weber, 2007-11-28

I never said it was back. I said that maybe someone would take notice. 250 is a drop in the bucket. The people that signed it are the typical fan crowd (which yes, I am a member of) and a few others. Get some people with buying power to sign it.

That being said, you could get 10k names to sign it and it might not budge IBM at all. But at 250, it is almost worse than 0

John Head, 2007-11-28

That's kind of funny. First you said we would be talking if the petition would be signed by 2500 people. Now you say that 10000 would not matter.

It's a not so nice way of saying they don't really care.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-28

Nobody will believe this, but ... I have to side with John on this issue. A petition signed by a few hundred die-hards simply isn't very impressive. A petition signed by thousands might be (given the target audience of these Redbooks, my randomly chosen threshold number would be 1/2 of the number of Lotusphere attendees).

And it's true that, even then, an impressive number of signatures is no guarantee that IBM will change their mind. It may be enough to initiate a conversation, but there's no way to be sure that conversation will end with a "Yes." And that's true of every fan-driven effort to change a corporation's mind. I'm reminded of the efforts to keep TV shows on the air in the US, where often the fans will go to great lengths to make their point. Sometimes it works, but much more often it doesn't. Firefly --> Serenity, Jericho was renewed, but efforts to save many other shows failed miserably.

Which is no reason not to try, by the way.

Rob McDonagh, 2007-11-28

Redbooks in my opinion are -well probably were- a competitive advantage. "SG246955: Migrating from Microsoft Exchange 5.5 to Lotus Domino 6" helped a great deal in shaping the decision for us to switch to Notes. Microsoft doesn't have anything close to this and the quality of the Redbooks easily matches what you can buy from bookstores. However, only 257 signatures until now is somewhat embarrassing given the wide range of attention in different Domino related blogs.

Christian Kube, 2007-11-28

The "community" is a lot smaller than it thinks it is.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-28

the community is a lot bigger than 250 (judging by my own blog's traffic, attendance at things like the community nod at lotusphere, etc.).

Perhaps not everyone in the community reads this blog anymore, or is tired of the constant one-sided negativity, or disagrees that this is an issue worth petitioning or revisiting, or feels like a petition won't make an impact.

Personally, I'm three of those.

Ed Brill, 2007-11-28

Three of those. Since you commented, you must be reading. You are tired, you disagree that the Redbooks are worth petitioning, and you feel that a petition won't make an impact.

I agree with you on the last one. But as the German saying goes: "Die Hoffnung stirbt zuletzt."

Volker Weber, 2007-11-28

Looking from the outside the decision making processes from IBM -those corporate realities of resource allocation- are really hard to understand. Mega Marketing dollars are spent on advertising campaigns where no one can tell whether they make any difference at all. For Redbooks the actual impact can be counted -like the Domino 8 deployment draft with more than 10,000 downloads in a month- and they are ditched... Too bad. I'm not that sure whether the wiki-based approach with "Redwiki" will work. Well, Volker named it: Hope dies last..

Christian Kube, 2007-11-28

I was quite unhappy how Lotus Redbooks were supported for the last few years. It was quite a long suffering with outdated content and less titles.
I still think that titles like the Developers handbook for R6 (and many more) are awesome but if IBM is not convinced that this is worth an investment I think it is better letting it go.
One advantage of redbooks was that I have seen printed copies on desks of people that will probably never read a blog on IBM topics.

Henning Heinz, 2007-11-28

Christian, they are not that hard to understand. Marketing is an entirely different budget, and I simply don't have the faintest idea of how you spend that money wisely. Advertisement is an essential part of marketing, and as such, you would need to ask whether IBM is allocating too much money to marketing, or not. Me thinks, they don't.

If you want to question what IBM is doing you may want to look at how much money they spend on buying back stock, and who benefits the most. Hint, it's the same people who make the decision.

What I find disturbing is how Lotus gets punished for overshooting cost targets by a reduction in force - even if sales are good. If you let good senior engineers (STS level) go, or cut back on QE, it might hurt you rather sooner than later. The standard procedure is "find a new job within IBM in 30 days"*. The people who used to run the Redbook center for Lotus found a new job, btw.

*) In many cases you find those later working on the West Coast.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-28

Christian, I actually find these pretty funny. And funny is a good start to get attention.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-28

"*) In many cases you find those later working on the West Coast."

Soon you'll find many of them working on the East coast with both Microsoft and Google opening labs in Cambridge.

Carl Tyler, 2007-11-28

From my inbox: (read: I know who commented)

Re "community", having worked with a lot of diehard Notes / Domino developers / administrators the past few years, I can honestly say that most of them don't know anything about the Domino weblogs, Ed Brill, OpenNTF, and all the rest. What you might find is a developer who's heard of codestore... but not necessarily the rest. People forget the legacy of Lotus Notes: many are "corporate" developers. Make the thing work. Go home at 5.

I can relate. I know lots of those people who never went to a conference, let alone Lotusphere.

Volker Weber, 2007-11-28

I like the idea of a poll, but agree that it will not make a difference.

I do however have two money saving suggestions for the bean-counter who closed down Lotus Redbooks.

1. Don't renew IBM's Microsoft Office licenses - this will save millions.
2. Leave IBM before you get your bonus from doing 1.

This also has the added benefit of preventing you from doing fantastic 'cost saving' things at IBM in the future.

I think that the books and magazines that a product attracts are a good indication of the health of at product. I'm not aware of any new Domino/Notes books and find it a little disturbing that the Lotus Notes Advisor recently merged with the Access and Sharepoint Advisor.

Adam Osborne, 2007-11-29

@Volker: thanks a lot for the hint on the new ads. Those are really nice, I do like them. What I had in mind during my comment was the series with Notes and the dinosaur in the background. The current print campaign running in Germany I also find somewhat strange ("Leute in irgendwelchen absurden Büro-Situationen"). Whenever I talk to people who are not involved with IBM products very much they just don't get them.
@Adam: actually there are quite a few good books on the German market, even new ones. Comparing Domino with Exchange neither one takes much space in the bookstores though.

Christian Kube, 2007-11-29

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