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Welcome to Amateur Hour

Bhutan — Gong – Rinpung Dzong
Originally uploaded by sgluskoter

IBM yesterday announced that it is reverting to the pre-y2k licensing model for Lotus Notes whereby everyone would be entitled to the developer client for free. In many ways this is a good move on their part. My first experience beyond the Notes mail client was building a knowledge base for our fledgling software support group back in 1996. I was at an insurance underwriter with 33 different versions of software and no coherent way to collect and share solutions. Lotus Notes was the answer and the development tools were built right in. 

Thinking back to those days though, I remember some of the pains of everyone having a developer client. Users were within a few clicks of hosing their mail file (you had top level ACL permissions to your mail file so you could change anything you like). Then there were the “power users” that would throw together some little app and expect to throw it out on the server. That wasn’t that big of a deal in 1996 – LotusScript was new and over the heads of non-programmers. But today, there are a lot of people in corporate America that fiddle with javascript mashups and the like and I think we will see some of these folks end up with a Designer client on their desktop.

So my question to you is this – are you ready for amateur hour? Do you have your servers sufficiently locked down to prevent publishing of unapproved databases? Think about it – it’s not difficult to write some LotusScript or Java code, deploy it to what is thought to be a hardened server, and gain access to the CEO’s mail file. All cleverly disguised as an app based on the discussion template.

My advice is this: Harden the crap out of your server. There should be one, maybe two names explicitly on the server doc allowed to create new databases or new replicas. And you should have a gong. Set up a gong in your little area and make a game out of publishing requests. Have the requesters come demonstrate their apps to you (you do have a separate development environment, right?). And dance around with a mallet. For better instructions, watch this video clip and you’ll see the band’s day end at the 57 second mark with the gonging.

Just an idea. Have fun and be safe out there, kids.

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