Lotusphere Fini

January 26, 2008 at 2:45 pm | Posted in collaboration, IBM, Lotusphere2008, portals | Leave a comment

I’m done with my Lotusphere postings for now.  I posted my notes from days 1, 2, and 3 in this blog and described what I saw in the Innovation Lab and my overall impressions at the Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

Make sure you also check out the personal blogs from my teammates Guy Creese, Mike Gotta, and Karen Hobert who also had good posts on Lotusphere.

I’ll leave you with this final shot of the orchestra onstage playing Kashmir for the opening session.

Lotusphere 2008 alarm

Lotusphere 2008 – Day 3

January 24, 2008 at 3:12 pm | Posted in collaboration, IBM, Lotusphere2008, social software | Leave a comment

I’m headed to the airport now (so no day 4+ postings from me), but here’s what I heard at the Social Computing Keynote before leaving Lotusphere.

Social Computing Keynote

I’ve noticed that Web 2.0 zealots often distinguish themselves by their evangelical zeal, tying broad sweeps of history to the fundamental nature of man; characterizing social software not as just something you should do, but something that people inherently yearn for, like democracy.  Look through these Web 2.0 binoculars and you can see coming a tidal wave of Facebooking, twittering young millenials that will crash upon the shores of the Enterprise, destroying existing siloed structures and washing old, unprepared, beached whales away.

I consider myself a Web 2.0 advocate, although not a zealot.  Learning how to apply these principles to existing structures will be the key to successful adoption for organizations that are not able to blow up what they have and start again.  This keynote on social computing worried me a bit at first by starting way up in the clouds (more like in the stratosphere), but then got closer to reality, and eventually poked a little fun at empty rhetoric and brought it down safely to Earth.

But first, Jeff Schick started out at the stratospheric level.  Phrases washed over me such as “Collaboration is how we hunted and raised villages” … “we collaborate better than any other animal” (actually I think ants may have us beat and they don’t complain as much) … “the forward march of civilization” … “epic sagas helped us to transmit knowledge over time” … “we transcend time and distance as we work together”

Whew!  But just when the oxygen was getting a little thin up there he started bringing it closer to Earth.  He talked about the need to have a common repository across content management and collaboration, alluding to some upcoming integration with FileNET. 

Next he brought up a set of customers to bring the higher level goals down to real life with good examples of how pilot programs for Notes, Quickr, and Connections can make a real difference. These are new products, so it’s hard to establish a track record quite yet, but these were useful examples including Teach for America, Bank of New York Mellon, Rheinmetal, and Colgate-Palmolive.

Then came Innovation Idol.  It was a cute way to give a few over the top humorous examples of social computing followed by some real demos of business-relevant functionality. 

I think that since Microsoft stumbled with KN, Lotus really has a point they can hammer home about actual, delivering social computing products.  They did a good job of this at the conference and in this keynote, spanning the high-level guru talk that some people still need to hear and the practical applications that others now need.

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. 

Lotusphere 2008 – Day 1 (Monday, January 21st)

January 21, 2008 at 4:27 pm | Posted in IBM, Lotusphere2008, portals | 1 Comment

Here’s what I heard through the filter of what was interesting (or lovably quirky) to me:

General Session

They started out by seriously overestimating the degree of stimulation I am accustomed to at 7:45am. There was a full (about 35+ piece) orchestra plus 7 piece rock band blaring away at songs like Kashmir (Led Zeppelin). They were very good and high energy, but it was a bit too early for me to appreciate that.

Bob Costas

  • Used sports (steroids in baseball, Chinese Olympics) to make his point about finding knowledge in the data, getting past information overload by finding the pertinent information

Mike Rhodin

  • Mike spoke for the first minute in front of an enormous asterisked phrase stating legalize about “product plans are subject to change …”
  • Talked about the types of collaboration as document, people-centric, and community-centric. He then proceeded to play a winning game of buzzword bingo. In fact, the whole morning was buzzword compliant (innovation, composite application, web 2.0, knowledge management, attention management, etc.). I can’t complain though – I use those buzzwords too and he did a good job describing them and putting them in an IBM context (oh yeah, “context” – another favorite buzzword of the morning)
  • Mike got applause when talking about going beyond search to discovery. As Mike said, search tells you what you knew to ask for; discovery tells you what you didn’t know
  • Announced an IBM+RIM partnership

Dr. Vishal Sikka

  • Dr. Sikka is the CTO of SAP and he came out to announce SAP business suite integration with Notes (project Atlantic)
  • This replaces the templates that were available since 6.5. Cons: this costs $$$. Pros: supports newest versions of Notes and ERP and it’s supported

Alistair Rennie

  • Talked about Notes being ported to Ubuntu and Mac (the public beta begins “now”)
  • Domino 8.5 enhancements will include:
  • ID management in a server vault
  • Opening Domino directory layer
  • An attachment store that eliminates redundant files (as 3rd party vendors have been providing up until now)
  • Lotus protector for e-mail security (an appliance that does anti-spam)
  • Domino designer 8.5 based on Eclipse and Xpeditor
  • A class browser in Domino Designer (this got whoops and yahoo’s from the audience)

Kevin Cavenaugh

  • Described Lotus Symphony as important because it lets a company move from supporting commodity software to letting it spend on innovation
  • Beta 4 in February of Symphony will add programmability
  • Brazillian vendor Totvs, which works with Notes to provide ERP, includes Symphony so now their users don’t even need Windows

Bruce Morse

  • In 2008 they will add Sametime advanced (expertise location, which he called “skill tap”) and unified telephony (demoed calling to a single number that can be forwarded)
  • Sametime persistent chat and file sharing will be added, blurring the line with collaborative workspaces

Larry Bowden

  • Claims to have #1 portal marketshare (IDC and Gartner say so). I’ve found marketshare numbers for portal to be increasingly sketchy as it’s uncertain how to count free and bundled licenses (like Oracle Portal and Windows SharePoint Server). I don’t doubt it though – they’ve done very well with WebSphere Portal Server (WPS)
  • Talked about the seven accelerators they’ve added to WPS
  • Completed integration of Google gadgets
  • Today announcing integration with Cognos, Business Objects, and Hyperion
  • Next (2q this year) will be mashups and Total Forms
  • Demoed Ajax capabilities (instant open comment field, drag and drop) and dashboard framework with drilldowns

Jeff Schick

  • Jeff had the most guru-like speech, starting out by talking about the movement of collaboraiton from smoke signals to Usenet to Prodigy
  • IBM will deliver combined enterprise content management (ECM) + collaboration. Filenet P8 and IBM CM8
  • V2 will include attention management, which seemed to include creating a personalized homepage. Irene Grief is an IBM’er that I interviewed in the research for my attention management document. I found her very knowledgeable and she seems to have had a positive impact. It’s tough to address a concept so broad in a product suite, so I’ll be interested in getting more details
  • Did a demo that showed where to focus attention across a social network. Also showed Atlas, which analyzes your social network (like the now-dormant Microsoft Knowledge Network)
  • Talked about mashups as a way to easily create desktop apps, bring functionality the last mile, and implied end-user personalization with saying the “P” word
  • Announced Lotus Mashups, a browser based mashup tool
  • Demoed dragging organization feed onto an org map. Added salary data layer. Also showed connecting 2 wdigets by name so that clicking in one changes the data in the other.

Mike Rhodin

  • To the strains of the symphony playing “Fanfare for the Common Man” by Copeland, Mike announced the Lotus Foundations for SMB. Interesting choice of music – not sure if SMB’s see themselves as the common man versus Rocky or rising stars. The Net Integration Technologies acquisition fits in here.
  • He also referred to Steve Jobs’ reveal of the new Mac when pulling out an appliance-like server for Domino
  • He ended by announcing an extranet SaaS product called Bluehouse for smaller businesses with less than 500 employees

Websphere Portal Technical Overview

Stefan Liesche

  • WebSphere Portal 6.1 beta has been out since Sept. 29th and in December was refreshed to beta 2. A few more betas to go before release
  • Gave great description of what a portal is. I still hear so many batty definitions that it’s nice to hear it described properly
  • Listed Mashups among the things that portals consume. Interesting – I see them as more complementary composite application creation mechanisms rather than something to be consumed by a portal
  • He used the “e” word: ecosystem. This is a term many vendors are using now to talk about the set of things around the product itself that enable its success (in the market or for the implementer) such as 3rd party vendors, community, systems integrators, etc.
  • Enhanced openness: Access to web, mobile devices, expeditor, and REST (as a service such as one that could describe navigation in a portal, or to a feed reader)
  • Briefly talked about the accelerators for WebSphere Portal: self-service, industry, collaboration, content, dashboard, learning, enterprise suite, process
  • Lotus connections portlets, Quickr (blogs, wikis, forums), development through composite apps and drag&drop, standards support (AJAX, REST, ATOM, DOJO), semantic tags for dynamic menus
  • Client side aggregation is about breaking apart the single page at a time model. Using web 2.0 technologies WPS can enable pages that go beyond single page delivery so you don’t, for example, have to wait for all portlets to render before seeing the page
  • WPS now has support for microformats (understanding the nature of certain types of information such as currency or stock symbols and knowing how to provide more detail)
  • He talked about integration that can be implemented via Javascript to integrate an external web app into the portal service, but inherit navigation and styles
  • I (this is Craig, not Stefan talking) have found it interesting to watch how the concept of mashup gets described and leveraged by vendors. Stefan basically divided into strategic (portal) versus tactical/opportunistic (mashup). That’s pretty reasonable, but the problem with the division between low end and high end tools is that the path to go from low to high end has always been rocky and so many projects that seem quick at first wind up needing enterprise features and scale later
  • His definition: “a mashup is a lightweight web app that combined data from more than one source into an integrated and new, useful experience.”
  • You can assign a URL fragment to a page to allow for simpler URLs
  • Virtual portals can now be identified by the hostname or a path segment
  • They now support multiple language versions of the same page and portal server automatically picks the right version based on profile. It uses markup in the HTML to do this
  • Talked about business process integration for portal using Business Process Integration.
  • The WCM now supports something they are calling paging where it can split documents into pages
  • Search has been extended so you can federate other search products in WebSphere Portal Search Center page. While his example integrated with “Dingdong Search” I think he really meant Google 😉
  • A quick JSR 286 update: Reference implementation will be provided at Apache Pluto 2.0 with the final version available at the end of 2007
  • There were long lists of management, development, and content management features and and APIs that are too big to list here. The slides will be posted up to the Lotusphere site for all the nitty gritty details

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