I have to admit: I was less excited about this years opening session than expected. On my way to Lotusphere I feared I might know everything they will tell us – IBM and business partners like us hosted so many events during 2005 so there can not be any breaking news. But yesterday IBM made me believe todays opening session will be the best ever. Well, it was not. The Non-US-residents never heard of Jason Alexander, and his part on the stage was less exciting than Patrick Stuart aka Captain Picard on stage talking about his relationship to Shakespeare. Well, at least the US visitors enjoyed Jason Alexander very much.
So what took I away from the general session:
- IBM makes fun of its own acronyms. This was really funny and it´s good to see IBM has a sense of humor
- We heard about double digit and triple digit growth.Double digit growth in Lotus software sales, double digit growth in Lotusphere visitors (really?), triple digit growth in Workplace customers. So, how many (paying) Workplace customers existed in 2004?
- Notes/Domino 7: Fastest adoption ever of a new release, full functional Mac and Linux client available as well as Domino Web Access on these platforms. 120 million users of Lotus Notes world wide. A continous success story.
- Tight Notes/SAP integration, which does make sense.
- Announcement of multiple partnerships in the mobility and pervasive technology sector, like with RIM, Nokia or IntelliSync. So, where is all that WebSphere EveryPlace technology? While mobile device support becomes a part of the core product in competitors messaging plattforms, IBM relies on third party vendors.
- Sametime is probably one of the most recognized innovations this year. With Sametime 7.5 IBM will deliver a really powerfull presence awareness and web conferencing platform – based on the Ecplice client technology. A set of connectors will provide server side access to AOL IM, Yahoo IM and – most important because of the Jabber protocoll – Google Talk. And don´t forget the Blackberry connectivity that lets you instantly chat from Sametime with Blackberry´s IM Client – even if the guy on my left side uses this solution since 6 months 🙂
Many other usefull things are improved or added: You can instantly connect to your buddy with a voice connection, you will be able to integrate your VoIP solution and location awarness has been added. Today is use Skype for IM chat and voice, Sametime for internal chat and presence awarness only within my Notes environment and Plazes provides location awarness. Tomorrow Sametime might be back on my desktop and provide all this for me.
- What I really don´t understand is IBM building solutions on top of Workplace. Why the hell do they deliver solutions like Workplace for Business Reporting & Controls or the Workplace for Business Strategy and Execution? This used to be the IBM partners business for the last 15 years. I don´t get it. There might be some partners who are not happy with this.
- But there is another interesting fact: The most recognized tools at this years Lotusphere are not build by IBM. It´s Bowstreets Portlet Factory and PureEdge´s Workplace Forms. Both companies and the solutions have shortly been acquired by IBM. And I must say: I am really impressed by Workplace Forms. It may solve lots of problems. And the best thing is: You can use it in Workplace as well as in pure Notes environments.
- Activity Explorer: This is my personall favourite since the Workplace Managed Client came out. In the new version IBM added many missing features. Now you can add objects to an activity thread not only within the Workplace Managed Client. You will get full access to this from a web browser and from the Lotus Notes Client. And activity threads will be available as RSS feeds, which is a major improvement for me.
- And finally „Hannover“. „Hannover“ aka Lotus Notes 8 will be shipped in 2007, but the live code we saw was amazing. I wonder why they did not show the chicklets like Kevin Cavanaugh did it at the last DNUG conference. Well, I had my camera in position. Anyway, I can´t wait to get my hands on this. „Hannover“ supports all Notes applications, it actually IS the new Notes Client. There are no additinal cost, it comes with the next major update, and it looks great. It will stop all discussions about Outlook providing the better UI.
„Hannover“ will require a Domino server only. Well, probably a Domino „Next“ server, which was anounced today as well. And from what I saw in the demo, the Domino „Next“ server web interface looks exactly like the Websphere Portal / Workplace interface. So Domino „Next“ will probably ship with a bundled portal server. So I will better not make any predictions about performance and hardware requirements.
So all in all a good start. Let´s see what we see and learn in the sessions and labs during this week.