Lotusphere 2012: my thoughts
The last day of Lotusphere 2012 is here: a good time to write down some thoughts.
From the sight of a vendor
You know, YouAtNotes had a pedestal in the showcase. There were less pedestals than last year, but that was no disadvantage - on the contrary! There were more people coming to the showcase and less vendors, which is a good combination (at least for us, the vendors).
We had a very good flow of visitors, and most of them were interested in Domino To Go, our solution for creating native mobile Apps for Lotus Notes applications. Boy, we really got very, very good feedback and everyone told us that our Domino To Go is the way to go.
So, showing Domino To Go on Lotusphere for the first time was a huge success. Now we will have a lot of work after the Lotusphere: releasing the public beta, creating more marketing materials, contacting all the leads from Lotusphere... but we're absolutely looking forward to that :-)
Furthermore, we had good and interesting talks with various IBM executives. And that is one very important thing for us on Lotusphere: meeting people and building connections. Because in the end, the personal contact is invaluable and cannot be replaced by the internet.
About Lotus Notes and Domino
"Social Business" was the motto this year, and for IBM, this translates to "Connections", leaving very few space for Lotus Notes and Domino. I am fully aware that the classic Notes business decreases, since a lot of people want to do browser based stuff, cloud and so on. And I do not have a problem with that.
IBM invested a lot of resources into XPages and making Domino and Designer a "kick ass" development platform again. While it can be discussed if they reached the "kick ass" goal, personally I'm very happy with XPages, Domino Designer and the Extension Library. All of that feels modern to me and enables me to create very, very good solutions very, very fast.
Even more I (and many other business partners and developers) are concerned about the NSF database format. Everyone knows that NSF is great, but it's old and has it's problems (32K anyone? Full text indexing latency? Scalability with many documents?).
And just as I expected, IBM simply does nothing about it. Nothing. Not. a. single.word. about. improving. NSF.
Or did I miss something?
That's a dissapointment. NSF is falling behind other No-SQL solutions, and while XPages might attract new developers, the will be scared away again when they learn about the ancient problems of NSF. What a pity.
So, what did IBM announce in the IBM Lotus Notes and Domino space?
No Notes 9, but a Notes and Domino "Social Edition". IBM claims that jumping to version 9 would scare customers because such a version jump seems to need huge "migration projects". That is true, so using a different name is a smart move.
But to be honest, I didn't saw anything that would justify a big version jump anyway.
There are some nice improvements like embedding "social containers" in mail (that means, you can receive mails where you can actually do things without leaving the mail context, for example approving a workflow). But nothing big such as a client with a smaller footprint or an XPages RichText editor matching up to the Notes RichText editor.
Lotus Domino gets some improvements, too, for example stuff like OpenAuth support needed to work with other social software. As far as I see, these improvements are made by using "plugins" (like the Extension Library), the core of Domino remains mostly untouched.
So, mostly Notes and Domino stay where they are while being improved here and there.
Notes Plugin for the Browser
One really nice announcement is the upcoming general availability of a plugin for the browser, which executes Lotus Notes applications. That's great for organizations wanting to standardize on the browser and get rid of the Notes client. From what I've heard, the plugin weights well below 100MB and runs the Notes application in something like a basic Notes client.
The plugin will be first available for Firefox and IBM is considering which second browser to support.
Connections, social this, social that
If I would get a dollar for every time I read or heared "social" during this Lotusphere, I could retire and relocate to a sunny island of my own. On the marketing side, all this social wording is ok for me, because if a customers buys this social thing they have to come to IBM. Microsoft has nothing in this area.
On the personal side, I don't see any difference in working "social" than in our past and present way of working. What's "social" about? As far as I understand, it's about working together, in a community. While members of the community might be collegues from my own company or customers.
Guess what? We are working this way for years. I cannot see what's really "new" with this "social business" approach.
OK, I can build some kind of internal facebook. I can store files so that everyone can actually access them. That's nice and can be helpful, but for us and our customers it's only nice to have, not must have.
And again, even if this sounds old-school, E-Mail is the primary communication channel for us and our customers. And I fail to see why I should replace my E-Mail inbox with an activity stream that spams me with a zillion of notifications. I hate this in facebook, and I would hate this in any other internal, facebook style tool, too.
In my E-Mail inbox, I can mark mails as read and unread, I can move them out of the inbox when I'm done with them. Can I do such thing in the activity stream?
If not, how do I seperate items where I have to work on from items I'm done with?
Don't get me wrong, Connections is a great tool if you have the problems that are solved by Connections. And IBM is creating a market where Microsoft has nothing to compete, that is very good. But it's clearly an enterprise tool and therefore not that important for most of the medium and small businesses out there.
I think for those companies, XPages, Domino and Notes are still more important (in that order).
For us, it has been a great Lotusphere. There is a lot of business opportunity out there for our new Domino To Go product.
For Connections, it has a been a great event, too.
For Domino, XPages and Notes there were highs and lows.
Beside that, there were some other important new products, too. Like IBM Docs (think Google Docs, but better and from IBM). It has a great name, and is a great tool.
On the personal side, I enjoyed this special community once more very, very much. You, the people I talked with, the people I do business with, the people that read my articles, you make the difference. Thank you.