More than 6 month with SUSE now

For those of you based in Germany , you know that the first 6 month in a new company are somewhat special, as there are special rules for both sides on an easy and early termination of the contract.

So I am now with SUSE, my new company for more than 6 month. And I have to say it has been a good ride so far!

Besides the technical things, I will write about a little later, I have to say that I feel like I am back 15 years or so in the good Lotus times. Don’t get me wrong, there were also plenty of things in Lotus that did suck at that time (including Executives that called everybody out of their pressing projects to announce management changes – yikes), but there were less processes, people were valued and people tried to do the right thing instead of trying to follow the process.

When I joined SUSE, the first few weeks felt like a relief and there were quite a few things that were hard to believe for me. Real trust by management, a really open culture and mind of people. Support from people. I can say, I felt very welcomed and people tried to help me wherever they could. What an experience! Also processes that make sense and are not established for the sake to have a process in place and put guidance in. For example, I was pushed to travel and attend events. In IBM at same point I gave up on that. So huge change just there.

Another very interesting experience was the change in tools. IBM Collaboration is not present at all in SUSE, not even on the radar anywhere. People know Domino, but other tools are just not known. As an open source company we use a lot of open source tools, in combination with some Microsoft tools through our previous parent company.

But in general, the service is available and people decide how they want to use it. For eMail for example we can choose the client we want to use. And on the tooling there is now consolidation going on. I can get my work done. One thing I am somewhat missing is an easy way to share documents, but we are getting there. I am now using a webdav upload to our Wiki, that is good enough for the moment.

A few words on Domino: When I think back I was not using it heavily in my last few month at IBM on the desktop. The only real thing I was opening the notes client for almost every day were 2 things: my Journal and my timesheet app. For both I am now using open source tools.

It feels weird for me to look at ICS from the outside now. And the push for Domino again. There are for sure clear advantages on the domino runtime but I would question that we would see a huge movement to Domino as an app server, unless there is a different business model HCL comes up with at some point. There is a lot of Opensource out in the market, optionally supported through companies like SUSE that are broadly used by the new generation of developers. If I am a domino shop, it is a no brainer to see that you can use APIs that are standard in the market now to access Domino Applications and build lean apps in containers that use Domino as a Database – question is at what point does the back end become invisible and replaceable.

Also the whole notion of bringing a 20 yr old application to a mobile device seems interesting at the first run – but really, I want a mobile app available that behaves like one, not a desktop / web app that is getting adjusted to a mobile device. And if I have to spend work on this somehow (reusing API’s potentially), we are back in the same position as before.

When I made the decision to leave IBM mid last year, that was emotional thing after 17 yrs with one company. I remember sitting at home, evaluating my options and try to form a decision. I think there were in the end 4 things that made me do the step:

1) my wife suggesting a change and a less painful work environment

2) my SWAT analysis where I realized that the only real risk was to be fired in the first 6 month

3) a good friend of mine who immediately said: You are such a good fit to SUSE culture

4) The suse staff who was super friendly and helpful from the beginning and gave me the feeling that they really wanted me onboard

I am happy now that I made the step. I have been drinking from the firehose for the last 5 month, learning so much about Linux libraries, Kernels, CPUs and server. And honestly I am very grateful I can learn again, I find things that I need to work on to understand them. It is so very different from my previous job that was to a very large extend consisting of playing political games. I am now mostly back to facts and we can drive decisions. They are not always right, but at least we are getting a direction set quickly and then can adjust as necessary.

With SUSE being an independent company again since March 15, I am looking forward to an exciting 2019. It will be challenging in some ways and I expect bumps. But I know that the whole company wants to do the right thing and fix issues. And that clearly makes a difference in the day to day work.

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