Live blogging from a meeting. Excited yet? BORED.
We’ve got four salesmen (one female) sitting around the round table selling us their SharePoint solution. We’re one and a half hour into this meeting, which is one of four that I’m required to attend, and I’ve finally come to the realization that it’s a complete waste of my time. I’d rather waste my time doing actual work than sit here and listen like a fool. A fool because I don’t understand the language. We even had to hire a damn special (and especially well-paid) sales-man CONSULTANT, that can translate the snake oil to "our very specific situation".
That’s right. Some f*** in management thinks that because we’re not a sweatshop, or a factory, but a research foundation we’re somehow special and has special needs. Eff that. Why not ask the guy who keeps the shop running? It’s a mid-sized business with regular Windows XP users and the communication problems that are wholly regular when more than ten people get together. We sell research instead of baby milk or soccer pads, and who cares.
I give up!
When I arrived here as a conscientious objector in 2004 I suggested that perhaps I could redo the company website (and naturally substitute its non-existing back-end) as well as implement the ISO standard file architecture at no cost. At the time, the company had just flushed half a million or more into a no-name Linux guru customized solution (turned out to be a re-written xml database setup with a MS word like GUI, no documentation and crashes half the time). So they wouldn’t hear about no-cost solutions because they would lose face.
The system that’s limping on as we speak, was in fact a lot better than the .ASP + MSSQL solution the former head of foundation had created when he was not avoiding actual work, but it didn’t really take much. This very blog does the same and is based on a php+mysql system created in 2001!
Come 2010 and someone has decided that we’re gonna buy a SharePoint license and take the final step into eternal doom. Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft’s Active Directory and SharePoint content architecture and management are good, well-written software products and great tools as well if implemented correctly. But there’s a difference between a razor blade and a lawnmower when all you want to do is shave. Especially when the lawnmower takes all your data as hostage, unless of course you implement the next iteration under a similar yet more expensive license a decade into the future.
My own solution? A combination of FOSS packages that can ideally replace SP as a whole using opensource architecture in the back end. It requires the same hardware, quite a few consultancy hours, but our data is safe from vendor lockin at the neat price of ZERO dollar. AND we can be a flagship example of being ahead of the curve and the rest of the research field as users of intelligent and creative computing. I want viable solutions, not packaged products dammit! .. Oh well. Back to pretending I’m listening. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘die a little inside’.