Lotusphere 2008 – Day 2

January 22, 2008 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Lotusphere2008, portals, SaaS, virtual worlds | 1 Comment

After a late, but fun night with old friends, new friends, and friendly IBM folks, it was a bit difficult getting up bright and early, especially without a symphony to wake me up like yesterday.  But there were some good presentations.  I also had some good presentation with executives from IBM, but those observations will work their way into other blog entries and I won’t post a blow-by-blow bullet list like I do for these

IBM and SaaS

Doug Wilson and Aparatim Purakayastha

  • Examples Doug gave of IBM Lotus SaaS:
    • He began by talking about Bluehouse, the code name for the Lotus SMB SaaS program.
    • Also talked about Lotus Foundations, a collaboration server (being released 2q 2008) that IBM’s business partners sell as on-prem
    • Lotus Sametime Unyte Share and Unyte Meeting is a product as well as a service that can be cut into other offerings like those from business partners
  • I thought Doug’s presentation was interesting for the assumptions it made about the value proposition of SaaS.  I’ll pull these out and isolate them to clarify (so these are my words, not IBM’s position)
    • Traditional software vendors will prefer to offer applications that have a flexible hosting model versus pre-determined hosting model. For example, Bluehouse seems to be COTS software (commercial off the shelf) that IBM has decided to host and customize to offer as a service.  This is different than Google Apps for the Enterprise which were built from the start to be SaaS. It’s the difference between optional SaaS and mandatory SaaS.  IBM Lotus is leaning towards the flexible hosting model – as Doug said “You’ll see a hybrid – it’s not totally one or the other.”    The next question is therefore, is there a difference between applications developed to be purely SaaS versus either SaaS-or-COTS?  My instinct says there is, as this must introduce design limitations, but this will take further research
    • An easy market for SaaS is organizations at a low point on the technology maturity curve.  For Bluehouse, Doug mentioned a sweet spot of businesses that don’t currently do much collaboration, so SaaS is enabling access to capabilities that you can’t get otherwise.  In other words, the buyer is probably not comparing the SaaS to COTS – the choice is between the SaaS and nothing.  This concept is complementary to the one that SaaS offers stripped down functionality as one of its benefits (less complex)
    • Small business are another easy market for SaaS.  Small businesses have difficulty justifying enterprise software and their systems aren’t linked to partners
  • I agree with these assumptions, but I do think this leaves out a few value propositions that Doug did not mention
    • Software adoption risk: A typical buy-vs-lease calculation requires the number of years the software will be used.  But for technologies being explored for the first time, it’s not certain if it will catch on.  The time frame could be very short if it never catches on and dies out long before reaching critical mass in an organization.  Collaboration technologies such as wikis and even document libraries are experimental for some organizations, so SaaS can be cost effective versus a purchasing long term rights to software that may fizzle after a few months
    • Vendor risk: Buying long term rights to software from a vendor that may not be around in a year isn’t prudent.  Aside from code escrow allowances, SaaS provides another form of assurance that you’re not paying for a going-concern assumption.  This doesn’t apply to IBM, but it does to many of the smaller Web 2.0 vendors
    • Departmental or point usage: Even large enterprises have needs for small groups within them to set up their own collaborative environments such as for one department or for one project team.  In the Q&A Doug said that IBM Lotus may address that in the enterprise products, although that’s not what Bluehouse is about
    • Quick time to implementation: This ties into the departmental bullet above.  The idea is that if a project has certain software needs that can’t be met with the organization’s COTS software.  For example, a project team needs to collaborate with an external partner.  They certainly can’t wait to initiate a project to explore collaboration software and wait for it to be installed – they want it today
  • Aparatim pointed out architectural lessons about what is important for designing SaaS-capable software
    • Loose coupling
    • Federated and open identity systems
    • Application level awareness of multi-tenancy

Glimpsing the Future of the Business of Socializing

Irene Greif and Joan DiMicco

  • Beehive
    • Beehive is a research project for mixing work and purely social exchange
    • It’s a social networking website, like an internal Facebook
    • It’s not Connections – it’s opt-in and the profile is self-branding (like placement of where things go in the profile and you don’t just fill in categories)
    • Examples: photos, top five lists, events
    • I think it’s Interesting that Oracle also has a Beehive project for next-gen collaboration, not to mention the Apache Beehive project (unrelated to collaboration).  This is a popular code name!
  • Socializing in Virtual Worlds
    • Teams are strengthened by playing games
    • Leadership emerges from in-world exercises.  it gives people without leadership titles to take on leadership roles and learn and demonstrate leadership
    • One argument was that younger people like these immersive environments and we want them to feel comfortable
    • Another is maybe to get value to take people out of their work setting to share experiences together.  Using games to foster teaming
    • Expect integration with existing, 2D tools in the enterprise
    • Talked about some design principles they found from Second Life: were that they should be collaborative games (not single user), team competition, social identity (t-shirts, etc), and exercises to get comfy with Second Life
    • Their research showed that it helped foster a collaborative environment in virtual teams
    • Bluegrass
      • Irene described the Bluegrass project for virtual worlds for software developers.  I sat down in the Innovation Lab with it and it’s pretty neat
      • What I like about it is that it demonstrates the value of virtual worlds for visualization.  The same data can be visualized in a “normal” way in Rational Jazz.  You can see projects, people on the projects, when code is checked in, and so forth.  But the virtual visualization lets you see this data in a different way, with trees for projects, people with bubbles over their heads when they take an action, and profile information hovering around them
      • This isn’t a virtual IDE – it’s for the collaboration and a way to provide a visual concrete to the programmer’s abstract world
      • It was developed in the Torque engine, which has a server and client component
      • It was designed by and for millennials – so it has the fun look and feel of games
      • Irene discussed other similar projects like MUPPETS, MPK 20, Rubyists in Second Life, Chime
      • She described this as connection to attention management in being aware of what other developers are doing

Portal Site Management

J Paul Kelsey

  • Described site management as being about managing pages, artifacts, page lifecycle, access, and content creation
  • They opened up an ATOM feed into the portal through a content handler that can send and receive XML, so the admin screens for pushing pages out are now AJAX enabled
  • Through that they can issue GET, Put, Post, or DELETE requests on a page without going through admin screens
  • Can modify all sorts of things to a portal page locally to make changes to it (without ever going to the server) and then a single submit to the server would update it.  I think this could open up some nice 3rd party vendor opportunities for handy page design and admin functions
  • Apparently in the past you didn’t have an easy way to move a page from one server to the next.  I thought WCM did that.  Well, now there’s a button you can click to publish pages
  • There’s a site management option added to the resource manager portlet
  • I’ll admit that I got distracted doing some email during this presentation, so these notes may be a little off. 

That’s it for day 2. 

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