Jan 24, 2008

Hi, I'm...(from Lotusphere 2008)

I can't believe anyone had spare time this week, let alone all of these people!

Administrator vs Developer

...Ed Brill

Steve Jobs' Reality Distortion Field Spoilage

A friend found this on Joy of Tech.

Lotusphere 2008 - Day Four - January 23, 2008

I decided to stay an extra night to see the Application Development keynote this morning. I am glad I did. Allistair Rennie, VP Development and Technical Support, Lotus Software was originally slated to deliver the keynote but he was not there. Instead Kevin Cavanaugh, VP of Messaging and Collaboration, Lotus Software did the honors (a formidable substitute). Despite the change up the keynote went very smoothly and was informative. Unfortunately the keynote only had a one hour time slot. I suspect the session could have gone for at least another hour on all the new tools to develop and/or customize applications, widgets, mashups, portals and more for IBM Lotus solutions. Kevin even admitted at the end of the session that there are many permutations of tools and options for developing for IBM Lotus products that they had not been able to get to.

The session focused on new stuff for Domino and Portal development tools. The biggest news was that Domino Designer is been ported to eclipse and will be available in the Notes/Domino 8.5 timeframe - which is slated for release later in 2008. Sadly developers will have to be patient and wait until then. Maureen Leeland demonstrated some of the improved experiences that the Designer will have in 8.5, such as robust, programmer-grade script (LotusScript, JavaScript) editing and management tools, new design elements for creating widgets and XPages. The XPages seem to be a remnant of Lotus Component Designer (LCD) pages that have been added to the Designer elements list. It allows developers to create a web page via graphical tools and pre-built objects (e.g., pre-coded Submit buttons), apply style sheets and connect to multiple data sources. The demo showed how to build a widget in the Designer and then use it in Notes as well as in Portal. The demos dove home the concept that the developer builds a widget in Designer and it can be used in other platforms like WebSphere Portal. Let's hear it for standards!

The next set of demos illustrated how to customize WebSphere Portal (WSP) 6.1 applications using new features in the browser-based portlet editors. There is support for JSR 268 and WSRP 2.0 for inter-portlet communication in WSP 6.1 (I think I just hit the legal limit on the number of acronyms that can be in one sentence). Dee Zepf (who I had the pleasure to work with on Domino.Merchant in 1997) did a nice demonstration of a few new Portlet Factory (an eclipse plug-in) features for building portlets that can also run in Notes and Expeditor clients. Although this version of the Portlet Factory provides custom widgets that came out of the Dojo toolkit, the ability to create widgets in Portlet Factory will be provided in a later release.

The keynote wrapped up with tools that are part of the Notes 8.0.1 client (due end of February 2008) to create widgets and live text elements that can bring external data in Notes composite applications. The Composite Application Editor (CAE) has been beefed up with many more options for wiring together components in composite applications from the comfort of the Notes client. The final tid-bit showed how to embed a Symphony Editor control into a composite application inside of Notes.

I have to say I'm still unsure of the development model for Domino development. I would have liked to have seen a tools strategy slide in the keynote so I had a frame of reference for all of these options. Who would use them and when would they be used? There was no mention LCD and what happened to it. There was also no mention of building and customizing Quickr or Lotus Connections interfaces. I hope I will be able to get a more complete picture of the strategy soon.

Lotusphere 2008 - Day Three - January 23, 2008

Day Three started out with a social software keynote that introduced several customer case studies where Quickr and Lotus Connections have been deployed to provide collaboration among diverse sets of users. In one case, Teach For America, the customer used IBM Lotus social software to support a dynamic workforce that is marked by high turn over, geographically dispersed members, and users with an average age of less than 30 years old. It was a sort of amplified version of the next generation information worker.

More meetings in the morning which included some lively discussions about SMB channel and the overall Notes/Domino market and uptake of N/D 8. My conversations indicate that it is very interesting time and I believe we're in for a dynamic market in the next few years. 2007 was what I consider a "release to the market" year where vendors focused on releasing new and upgraded products to the market. Much of that time was spent explaining the new products and the product strategy. Since both IBM and Microsoft release major upgrades of their core products the discussion has shifted from being application space focused (i.e., Notes Mail vs Exchange/Outlook) to platform focused ( i.e., IBM Lotus vs Microsoft). I feel that this new conversation has driven customers to re-evaluate their collaboration assumptions and solutions. Much of 2007, evidenced by customer questions, has been spent doing this evaluation and I believe that in 2008 we'll begin to see the results of their decisions. I'm expecting a fun ride.

Lotusphere 2008 reflected that dynamic. There were many new solutions, partnerships, channel programs, and product updates announced at the event. Some were significant updates to tools, such as porting Domino Designer to the eclipse rich client framework in the 8.5 release of N/D (currently not expected until later in 2008), and some announcements support more significant IBM Lotus market directions, such as Bluehouse and Lotus Foundations, that support IBM Lotus' SMB strategy.

I'll be back later with my thoughts on Day Four!

Jan 23, 2008

Lotusphere 2008 - Day Two - January 22, 2007

It's the middle of Day 3 and I'm now getting around to my thoughts on yesterdays events. It was another full day of keynotes and briefings. I had little time to sit in on sessions but I did get to spend some time in the Innovation Lab.

The innovation lab is one of my favorite places at Lotusphere. I enjoy talking with the developers and seeing what they are up to. Sometimes the tools look like week-end projects other's are incredibly impressive and robust. My strategy in the lab is to do a quick once around, identify the tools that I'm most interested in and start with those. I never seem to have enough time to talk with all of the developers so I might as well get to the ones I really want to learn about. A few jumped out at me; a social interface called BeeHive (that Craig mentions in his blog), Spectacular a syndicated feed aggregator and web-based feed reader (something I believe should be a collaboration platform service), and OmniFind Personal Email Search a semantics-based e-mail search tool that lets users enter queries like "Jim Smith's phone number" that actually returns a list memos with Jim Smiths phone number, not memos with "Jim" and "Smith" and "phone" and "number". All good work and potentially very useful solutions.

Much of my day was spent in conversations with IBM Lotus executives in charge of the various products and strategies. There's been a lot of focus on the small and medium business market (SMB) in those meetings. I'm still sorting out my thoughts on all the commentary and discussions. What is clear is that IBM Lotus is committed to developing the SMB channel, through product offerings, solution up-sells, and partner incentives. SMB is a market that IBM has historically had difficulty attracting. It's a tough market to work with when you offer broad, industrial strength solutions. One challenge for IBM is to make products that can be right sized for the customer needs and then be augmented and enhanced as the customer grows. Another challenge is for IBM to make the product decision making as easy as possible for the SMB customer. Too many permutations of delivery models and solution choices will send SMBs hiking.

Another area that I spent time looking at was Unified Communications (UC). The morning mini-keynote announced the 10 year anniversary of Sametime as a product and focused on the new Sametime 8.0 features. The Sametime team continues to impress me with its clearly articulated strategy and products that support the vision. The Sametime team demonstrated current, planned, and future product features. The big announcements that didn't make it to the Opening General Session included OEM and partnering agreements with some large communications solutions providers. OEM agreements with Cisco and Nortel with sell through in each vendor's partner channels were announced. IBM Lotus also announced partnerships with Ericsson for smartphone integration of presence and live tags, and NEC for Internet broadband Sametime UC services. The big message with Sametime is "Unified Telphony" so customers can use Sametime services to manage calls across multiple telephony systems, networks (VoIP, land lines, wireless) and receivers (e.g., smartphones, softphones, telephone sets).

I'm off to the showcase to look at vendor products now!

For additional insights on Day Two take a look at Mike Gotta's and Craig Roth's blogs.

Jan 21, 2008

Lotusphere 2008 - Day one - January 21st, 2008

The first day at Lotusphere is always a long one with keynotes and meetings jammed into our analyst schedule. In addition to the meeting schedule, Mike Gotta and I gave a presentation on Enterprise 2.0 to a well turned out crowd. Top that off, I've got a flaky laptop which means I've got a bunch of hand written notes to transcribe on the flight home.

The big event is the Opening General Session (OGS) where IBM Lotus announces new and updated products and show us its product strategy for the year. January is a good time to have an event like this, it can set the tone for the year and still get people in the new year frame of mind for positive change. The IBM Lotus theme this year is "Emergence" which comes with a disclaimer that the product strategy being presented "is subject to change without notice."

IBM Lotus made a number of announcements at the OGS, ranging from optimized performance of Domino servers and improved web interfaces for Notes/Domino applications, to iPhone support (some of the wind was knocked out of IBMs sails by an early report), to empowering users to customize their user experiences with widgets and the ability to build layered mashups of enterprise information and tools. 

A lot was presented and there are many things for customers to consider. What didn't emerge at the OGS was a clear picture of the future IBM Lotus customer and user. We saw a lot of new technology and choices but no way to figure out which to use when. Still I think there is a compelling story in there, one that will be attractive to IBM Lotus installed base and new customers.

The product strategy is becoming more complex with tools and hosted delivery models that are focused on small and medium businesses. I found the image of the IBM Lotus product and solutions strategy dramatic; where the product strategy in 2007 was built around 5 pillar products and platforms (Notes/Domino, WebSphere Portal, Sametime, Quickr, and Connections) the picture in 2008 has over 10 solutions, including appliances, platforms, services, and end user customization tools.

To summarize the mood was upbeat although it wasn't a pep rally. I think people are having a really good time but I haven't really been able to spend much time with attendees today. Still, there’s a serious edge. I think it might be that partners are finally really busy and that customers have a lot to think about. From what I can tell attendance is up from 2007 and there appears to be a BIG international crowd here.

For more blow by blow coverage of the OGS see the blog entries my colleagues Mike Gotta and Craig Roth posted this afternoon.

Jan 18, 2008

Your Amazon.com Profile...

So I was doing a Google search on my name - which I do from time to time. Mostly to see if there any press quotes out there that I missed (OK, so it's also fun to see your own name on the search engine). This time something showed up that I wasn't expecting:

Amazon.com: Profile for Karen Hobert(emailaddress)

The abstract was covered with my e-mail address. Of course I opened the link. What I got was a page on Amazon.com titled:

Karen Hobert(emailadress) Profile

There I saw all sorts of information on my activity with Amazon.com, reviews, wish lists, list mania, my screename (which was my email address), and other social networking stuff. Closer examination pointed out that what I was seeing was information that only I could view. So I changed the page to show me what Everyone could see (there's a handy drop down list to do this). The only thing that changed was I could no longer see my purchases (Phew).

After some clicking on help links to try to figure out how this profile got there and why my information, namely my e-mail address was made this public. I finally found a button to send a question to the support desk, to which I penned two, not one, steamed messages to Amazon.com support. They first one started out something like: "Hey! I go to Amazon.com to shop, not be a part of a social network." You get the idea. The second memo was more targeted at how I can get my e-mail address off the profile.

In the meantime I found out that I could lock down the viewership of each area of the page, so I set about to do the work. It took about 45 min to an hour. It took some time to figure out how to change my screenname from my email address to something else - apparently you can't not have a screenname and if I deleted the screenname it put my e-mail address back in the field. I tried the usual variations of camel-casing my name but for some reason they were not usable, so I opted for ihateamazonprofiles, which was OK. I was going with my emotions at that point.

About 6 hours later I received a reply from Amazon.com support explaining to me how Google worked and if I didn't like my information showing up there that I needed to deal with Google about that. They also provided the help information from the web site on how to configure the profile settings and explained that if I wanted to use the social features of the site - wish list, list mania, reviews, etc. - I needed a profile. Lastly they offered to remove the profile from the site if I wished, apparently something I can not do on my own. They also assured me that privacy was the utmost concern for Amazon.com and were sorry for any inconvenience.

So I replied the following (I saved my message this time):

Thank you for the detailed explanation of the My Profile feature of Amazon.com. I am aware of how Google works and I have no issue with it. I do have an issue with a feature on Amazon.com that defaults to posting my account information for everyone to see. If privacy is a concern wouldn't the My Profiles use different access defaults than "Everyone" for each area? I spent at least 45 minutes going to each area of "My Profile" to lock it down and correct the rest the default settings that used my email address as my screen name. I even went out and deleted a review I posted back in 2000 to clear the page. I'm not a hapless web application user - I've developed them for over 10 years - so it was slightly more intuitive for me to figure out how to protect my information, however I don't think my mother would have the first clue on what to do.


The only way I figure that I created the profile was when I added something to a Wish List or when I posted the only book review I've ever posted in 2000. I have never used List Mania or any of the other social features of Amazon.com. I am dismayed that I unwittingly put myself on a social network by adding something to a Wish List. I would not have used the Wish List feature if I had been aware I was joining what is essentially a social network and creating an openly public profile with much more information on my Amazon.com activity.


I am sure that Amazon is acutely aware of privacy concerns of its users. I have long been a user and an admirer of Amazon.com and its technological advances. I am aware that Amazon.com strives to bring new technology and solutions to its users and I applaud Amazon.com for it's strident efforts. It would be a shame for Amazon.com to fall into the scuttlebutt of a privacy issue in its effort to come up with innovative user solutions and features. While the attention span of the public is fickle, and Facebook recovered quickly from it's privacy debacle last fall, it would be a shame for Amazon.com to go through a similar event if it can be prevented.  The operative word here is prevented. Privacy issues like this one are preventable as long as the application designers take the time to consider privacy and develop accordingly. So many times developers  - and I include myself in that category - get focused on solving a problem that the big picture gets fuzzy. While the adage "there's no such thing as bad publicity" might work in Hollywood when it comes to technology and privacy there is, and it can scare off users.


Please remove my My Profile from Amazon.com.


Thank you for your help.

Ok it's still whiney, but I think I was pretty kind. They politely replied and removed my profile from the system (sadly it's something that I could not do on my own).

Many of those who know me know that I'm not hysterical about privacy, but I am concerned about what happens to my personal information on the Internet. I felt duped that I had unwittingly joined a social network when I thought that I was adding book titles to a wish list (the only thing I can figure I did to create the profile). It's not that I'm against social networks, I am a member of several social networks, it's just that I want to keep my activity on Amazon.com a more private matter.

I want to say that I appreciated how professionally Amazon.com treated me and how polite they were. I think this is a case where support gets the brunt of "when application design ideas have bad consequences." I only hope that Amazon.com has a system in place to send users' complaints and concerns back to the development team.

It's settled now and the nice folk at Amazon.com support helped me out. If you use Amazon.com and feel about this stuff the way I do, you might want to Google your name and see what comes up. At least you can go in and change the default settings.

Read before you go

If you want a good warm up before you go to Lotusphere 2008 check out John Fontana's article in Network World yesterday. I think he sums up what to expect very nicely. I particularly like his comment:

Experts say IBM's challenge will be not only to educate and entice Notes users but also to clarify its strategy in order to win over users beyond its traditional Notes user base now pegged at 135 million.

IBM gearing up to tie together collaboration pieces - Network World

Jan 16, 2008

While you're at Lotusphere 2008 ...

Come see Mike Gotta and me give a presentation on Enterprise 2.0: The Future of Enterprise Collaboration is Now! Full abstract below:

2008 is a pivotal year for communication, collaboration, and content management technologies. With both IBM and Microsoft making sweeping changes to their communication/collaboration product lines, and the (constructively) disruptive influence of blogs, wikis, and assorted types of "social software," the market is engaged in a renaissance that is changing the way information workers get business done. Enterprise 2.0 signifies the evolution of communication, collaboration, and content management technologies from self-contained applications to integrated interfaces that leverage Web 2.0 frameworks for back-end platform services and browser-based clients. This session includes an overview of the past, present, and likely future of enterprise collaboration, focusing on IBM's role in the broader market landscape. We'll lead you through communication, collaboration, and content management in an Enterprise 2.0 world and explain how you and your organization can prepare for next-generation collaboration concepts such as social software, interactive Web, contextual communication/collaboration, and unified communications.

The session (INV104) is taking place on Monday January 21st at 5 PM in Swan 7 - 10. It's part of the Futures and Innovations track. Carol Jones and Christopher Paul are doing a session in the same room before us, Introduction to Web 2.0: Trends in Collaboration, Innovation, and the Changing Workforce which will introduce many of the Web 2.0 concepts that we'll be talking about in our session. Upgrade to 2.0.

BTW: The Lotusphere 2008 Online site is a nice web-based resource for planning your Lotusphere experience. You'll need your attendee logon to get access. If you want a Notes-based experience check out Genii Software's 8th Annual Lotusphere Agenda Database for PDA Synching and Session Planning. You can replicate updates from Tranquility/TurtlePublic and there's a way to synch the info with your BlackBerry too!

Getting to Lotusphere 2008

It's that time of year for my annual visit to Orlando to attend Lotusphere. It's the 15th year that IBM Lotus been doing this event at the Swan and Dolphin resort in Orlando. The event always promises to be interesting and it's had ups and downs over the years. If I recall correctly I've attended 13 Lotusphere's in my career, which qualifies me for some sort of button or badge. It may or may not qualify me for the job I plan to do over next week; reporting and commenting on events, announcements, and reactions of attendees at Lotusphere 2008. I will do my best to paint the clearest picture of what I see and bring it to you here (maybe with some actual pictures).

Heading off to Lotusphere 2008 I have some questions in mind that I hope will be answered while I am there. 2007 was a busy year for IBM Lotus delivering a major upgrade to Notes/Domino, significant upgrades to Sametime, and additional options as well as accelerators for WebSphere Portal. IBM Lotus also introduced two new products to the marketplace in 2007, Quickr 8.0 and Lotus Connections 1.0, which demonstrated IBM Lotus' commitment to future technologies using web-based interfaces and social software. So the main question going into Lotusphere 2008 is what's next IBM Lotus and what can we expect from these products now? (Ok that's really 2 questions) I suspect I'll get some answers.

Products aside, I have other product related questions, such as (in no particular order):

  1. What is IBM Lotus doing in the mobile space?
  2. SaaS is grabbing headlines and what will IBM Lotus offer it's customer in the area of hosted solutions?
  3. What's the story with IBM Lotus development tools? Will it be easier to develop web apps for Domino or other IBM Lotus interfaces?
  4. Notes mail, anything new since the last time we looked?

I'm also interested in more communications and collaboration market related questions, specifically:

  1. So far, 2007 has been more of an installed base play, what is IBM Lotus doing to attract new customers?
  2. What does IBM Lotus see as its largest competitive threats and how does it propose to address those concerns?
  3. What is the value proposition IBM Lotus is offering customers in 2008?

Ok, so that's enough questions for now. I am looking forward to next week's events. It'll be a busy time and it's always exciting. If you're at Lotusphere and see me don't hesitate to say "Hi".

BTW: If you're looking for other blogging coverage of Lotusphere check out Planet Lotus!

I Heart WSJ News Alerts

When I set up my Wall Street Journal (WSJ) subscription I signed up for news alerts that send me short abstracts of hot news items as they hit the WSJ site. It's good. WSJ is judicious about what they send and my inbox isn't overloaded with new stories, it's just enough though.

Today was a banner day for technology news. See the headlines here: http://online.wsj.com/page/technology.html?mod=1_0013

A few of the big stories that hit today:

1. Oracle has agreed to pay $19.375 per share in cash for BEA Systems for a grand total of $8.5 billion. BEA has agreed to the price even though they said last fall they would not accept a bid under $21 a share. The sabers have stopped rattling. See the press release (it's the same on both company sites).

2. Sun Microsystems has agreed to buy the open source database MySQL AB for a sum of $1 billion in cash and options. Jonathan Scwartz's blog post almost reads like a Whole Earth article.

3. Gregory Reyes, former CEO of Brocade Communications Systems was sentenced to 21 months in prison and a $15 million dollar fine for stock-options back dating. Ouch! I guess it could have been worse (good thing the company didn't lose any money) but the article paints a stark picture.

Interestingly it's day 2 of Macworld and Apple is in 5th position on the top news items. I suppose all the big news was yesterday.