Jan 25, 2007

Magical Times

Amazingly we're already late into the first month of 2007. I feel like I'm on some magical time warp so far this year. This week I'm really feeling it. Presently, I'm in that magical place Orlando Florida, home of the Disney World, the place where phone operators wish you a magical day. I'm at the annual (14th) IBM Lotusphere conference. The congregation of the Lotus faithful and curious. Time is magical here. Hours, days, and minutes converge into the coral and turquoise decor.

The world of collaboration is getting more interesting by the minute (or was that an hour?). IBM made a number of announcements this week. Some gutsy, some expected, and some surprising. The atmosphere is upbeat and optimistic. IBM succeeded in rekindling the excitement behind their communication and collaboration offerings. There were bright and blurry spots in the conference keynotes.

Bright spots

  • Unified communications strategy - The open UC platform, built around the Sametime Client and plug-in technologies, allows customers to leverage their existing communication investments is a good strategy.
  • Lotus Connections - "social software for business" is a service oriented system for web-based social interfaces. My colleague Peter O' Kelly provides some interesting insight in Monday's Reuters article IBM renews Microsoft rivalry with new Web software.
  • Quickr - tossing another "e" in the recycle bin, Quickr is QuickPlace revamped into an application layer that can run on Domino or WebSphere Portal servers. The modernized UI and added content management features compete head-on with Microsoft SharePoint Services. Licensing includes a Personal Edition (free with Notes) and Standard Edition (QuickPlace entitlements) for enterprise deployment. I haven't done a side-by-side comparison yet so it would not be fair to judge things at this time.

Blurry pictures:

  • Domino Designer -the general focus at the conference was put on composite applications and the new programming model seems to have put modernization of Domino Designer on the back burner. Looks like designers will have to wait for Designer client to catch up with the new development model. 
  • Notes Client - The UI is modernized and built on the Eclipse Rich Client platform. Although this news has been around since last year, it was the dedication to the new client which proved to the world that Notes is an IBM priority. The old news is still good news, including the public beta release in February. Unfortunately we only saw an upgraded e-mail and calendar template and missed out on the benefits of the new rich client as the Notes application platform.

I expect enterprises to forge ahead with what they know they can count on from IBM: Lotus Notes/Domino, WebSphere Portal, and Sametime. This they can rely on for foundation communication and collaboration platforms. As far as all of the new stuff; Quickr will be a welcomed transition from QuickPlace, UC strategy will be a relief to customers who are at trying to solve a problem that crosses many operational boundaries, and Connections is likely to attract new customers to IBM solutions.

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