On November 9 at 15.00 BST (16.00 CET, 10am EST), ICON UK will host a special edition of their “Around The Table” webinar series focusing on the recently announced strategic partnership between IBM and HCL. The partnership, which covers the Notes, Domino, Verse and Sametime product families, will deliver a multi-year roadmap for the products, and Notes/Domino 10 has already been announced for a 2018 release.
We have heard people claiming for years that Notes and Domino is dead. Today IBM announced a move that hopefully should put those statements to a stop.
IBM is partnering with HCL Technologies on the future development of IBM Notes and Domino, as well as SameTime, Verse, Traveler and the other associated products. The products will still belong to IBM, and they continue to manage the product strategy, marketing and licensing using the current offering management teams. The existing IBM development teams will be moving under HCL, where the actual development will happen.
From a customer standpoint nothing will change, except for an increase in investment and development. Support will still go through IBM, using the same PMS system as today. But it will allow IBM to get more developers and resources towards the development of new versions, using the finite budget they after all have. It is a commitment to a sustained long-term roadmap and increased engineering ability.
The big news is that IBM is committing to releasing Notes and Domino 10 in 2018, and also announced that there is no end-of-live date for Domino. Not even an “at least until…” date like before. IBM are even discussing the next version after Domino 10.
What can we expect to see in Domino 10? Inhi Suh, General Manager for IBM Collaboration Solutions, said that application modernization is one of the big focus points. IBM will hold several “jams”, sessions where customers and business partners can give input on what they want to see in upcoming version. You can already register for the first one, called Domino 2025.
Inhi says that not all functions will be in Domino 10, that is not even possible. But there is an increased commitment to the platform, and I expect that we will see many new and exiting features.
In addition, IBM will focus more on small and medium size businesses, not just large organizations. Domino is a great platform even for smaller organizations, so this is a welcome change in strategy.
Anyone who knows their Notes and Domino history knows that the original product, Lotus Notes, was actually not developed by Lotus. It was Iris Associates who created it, under a contract with Lotus Software. many of the developers eventually went from Iris to Lotus, and then to IBM, as IBM took over Lotus. I truly hope that the amazing developers who have been working on the products for decades will be able to move over to HCL and their expertise will be utilized. In my mind that Is crucial for the future success of the products.
If you are a Domino user today, you should be very excited about this news! As more news are made available, I will post them here on my blog.
You have just over 3 days left to submit a session abstract for MWLUG 2017. The deadline is on Friday, May 26 at 5pm Central time.
If you don’t want to speak, registration is also open to this excellent conference. This year it takes place August 8-10 at Hilton Mark Center in Alexandria, VA. Expect a packed schedule with great sessions and speakers.
This is one of the must-attend conferences in the US for anyone working with the ICS (IBM Collaborative Software) family of products.
The Notes training company TLCC has two very interesting webinars coming up, especially for anyone that were not able to attende ConnectED in January. On May 14 the IBM development team will talk about the Domino development landscape, including new features for Domino on-premises as well as for the cloud through IBM Bluemix. IBM:ers Pete Janzen, Martin Donnelly and Brian Gleeson will be featured.
Then on June 16 the IBM product team will be featured. Scott Vrusho and Scott Souder is going to talk about where Notes, Domino and Verse are heading, while Dave Kern and Kevin Lynch will talk about recent security related changes to the Domino server.
You can find out more at http://www.tlcc.com/admin/tlccsite.nsf/pages/xpages-webinar
I have been testing IBM Verse Preview a little now, and I have compiled a list of some features I would like to see implemented. I have not included things in the UI (User Interface), because it is clear that part is still being polished/developed, and have some ways to go. I am going to focus on actual functionality, the UI items I will wait with until we are closer to the official March 31 launch date.
Connect IBM Verse to GMail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail
This is needed for several reasons. First to import existing calendar entries, contacts (including pictures, e.g. in Google Contact) and even existing email. Say the last 3 months or 6 months or even 12 months of email.
The connection should also be used to retrieve any new email coming to those acounts and display them in Verse. This way Verse can act as a federated email client, replacing the need to login to 3 or 4 different webmail systems. This requires one more function: the ability to change the sender address to match the account it was sent to. For example, if I get a mail delivered to firstname.lastname@example.org and it get imported into IBM Verse, when I respond to it I need to be able to select that email@example.com is the sender, not firstname.lastname@example.org. Outlook Express could do this this 15 years ago…
Signatures (including graphic elements)
Nobody will be taking Verse serious if you can’t create a signature for your outgoing email. Even for personal mail that is pretty much required today, and if you are trying to showcase a product intended for enterprises, don’t cripple it like this.
Allow custom usernames and aliases
In all/most other systems I use the nickname TexasSwede. In IBM Verse I have to be karl-henry.martinsson, which is longer, harder to remember (and to get right for people) and also annoying to have to type every time I login. Talking about login, the login screen does not remember my username and I have to enter my username as well as the domain. Not fun, especially when the mailbox times out every 30 minutes. If you like to keep your mail open all day, that is not useful.
While we are on the subject of account/user settings, it would be nice to be able to change the password…
Make Verse freemium, not crippleware
Nobody will bother testing IBM Verse if you are limited to 25 emails per 24 hour period and a 500 MB mailbox. Even GMail had 2GB at it’s launch in 2004 (if I recall correctly). I am sure there are many other things in the full version that have been removed in the preview version (if it has been developed yet). From what I understand, there is quite a bit of work left on the full (paid) version as well…
For any kind of corporate/enterprise email you need rules to sort incoming mail into folders. With the integration of Watson in IBM Verse, this should be easier than ever. We should be able to get the most accurant and most powerful email rules ever seen. Of course, with a 25 email per day limitation, nobody will have enough mail in their Verse account to eventest the analytics part of the product.
Support more browsers
At least Internet Explorer 10/11 should be supported. Many companies are still standardized on IE, no matter what you think about that product. I know that as late as last year, certain security certificates for banks in Sweden required even older version of Internet Explorer
In addition I have also heard reports that Safari did not work because the version installed with the operating system wasn’t supported. IBM requires pretty much the latest versions of the browsers for Verse to work. They do some fairly advanced browser sniffing, but the error message you get just tell you that your browser is not supported. That message should be much more precise. If you have Firefox 31 and Firefix 32 is needed, that should be explained.
Mail sent to non-existing users
If you send a mail to a non-existing user (for example of you type the address wrong, perhaps dropping one s from my last name) you get a non-delivery notification saying “User email@example.com does not exist in Domino Directory”. We are all happy that Verse is built on top of the reliable and robust .NSF infrastructure from Notes and Domino, but it would be nice to use more descriptive and less confusing messages. What’s wrong with “The user firstname.lastname@example.org does not exist, please check the email address.”
At IBM ConnectED in January IBM promised that all attendees would get early access to the next generation web-based email presented at the conference, IBM Verse. Jeff Schick initially promised it for february, but after several emails where the attendees were offered to sign up, it got very very quiet. Today the real invitation finally arrived in my mailbox, and I signed up. After signing up I was told it would take up to a day before my mailbox would be setup and available, but after about 30 minutes I got the welcome email.
What I noticed is that there are a number of functions not working or not available yet. This is something one would expect of a beta product, so not something I react negative to, even if it would have been nice to see a more polished product being introduced, even if it just labeled “IBM Verse Preview”. Among the functions missing is a way to create a mail signature. There is also a limit to 25 emails in a 24 hour period, as well as no more than 10 recipients for any email. Storages is limited to 500 MB.
According to a response in the support forum, IBM have dropped the Freemium idea. IBM Verse Preview replaces it, and will be just a demo version to try to get customers to buy the full version, where signatures and other features not present in the crippled Preview version will be available.
If you want to hear Jeff Schick announce the Freemium version (and personally invite ConnectED attendees to get early access to Verse Freemium), watch this video (starts at 42 minutes in):
In my opinion, IBM need to drop the 25 email and 10 recipient limit, increase the mailbox to at least 2 GB and add at least the functionality GMail offers, which include signatures (with graphics). Then there is quite a bit of polish left, if you mail a non-existing user you get the message “User XXX not listed in Domino Directory”. Yes, we are all happy that IBM Verse actually uses Domino and .NSF for mail storage, but it should probably be hidden from users.
There are also parts that look totally different, a lot of Connections stuff like profile settings, inviting users to your network, etc. Finally, Internet Explorer should be supported. Not that it is my favorite browser, but many companies are still standardized on that browser.
In my opinion, IBM dropped the ball. As my instructors in the Swedish army would have said: “Do it over, do it right”. IBM Verse has potential, but not as crippleware.
When I arrived to Orlando for the 18th time to attend Lotusphere (now renamed IBM ConnectED), it was with mixed feelings. The conference was much smaller than before, and everyone expected this to be the last conference in the Lotusphere format in Orlando. IBM had a contract with Disney that expired after the 2015 conference and we all knew it. So most attendees did see this as a last hurrah or a kind of farewell to Lotusphere.
But during the conference the feeling was something different. There was an energy there, and people were excited, not saying farewell. Many new announcements were made that energized the attendees. In particular the new web based mail client IBM Verse generated a lot of buzz. The news that IBM Verse will integrate with Watson logic and capabilities and the promise of an on-premises version later this year were especially positive and energizing.
The sessions I attended were great. The opening session had a new format, with the guest speaker at the end instead of at the beginning, and this actually worked really well. There were a lot of demos, most of them said to be live, and no panels on stage. There were three customer stories/presentations (from Blue Cross of California, Bureau Veritas and LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton) and they were refreshingly more relevant than the “commercial breaks” of the last several years. The guest speeker was French high-wire artist Philippe Petit, famous for walking on a line between the two World Trade Center towers in 1974. This event is the subject of an upcoming movie called The Walk, with former Lotusphere guest speaker Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing Petit. I enjoyed his talk, it was one of the better ones. I still think he is crazy for what he does, though. :-)
There were several session who were filled to capacity and had to turn away people, just like in the good old days of 10,000+ attendees back in 1998-2000. Yes, the sessions who were full were scheduled for fairly small rooms, but they were also extremely technical in nature. To me this indicates that this is just what the audience wants. More hard core technical sessions and less marketing and customer stories. IBM marketed ConnectED as more technical than in the past, and to a large extent they delivered. But there were still a number of sessions with less technical/product subjects.
The main focus of ConnectED was in two areas: IBM Connections and IBM Verse. The unexpected announcement that IBM Verse will be offered as a freemium product and positioned to compete with giants like Google Mail in itself generated a lot of interest. Attendees were also guaranteed early access to the new IBM Verse mail client.
Personally I really like the integration of IBM Watson in Verse, and the way email is sorted/categorized based on importance. I am looking forward to testing this for myself. I hope there will be a way to import existing email from Gmail or even on-premises Notes mail into IBM Verse.
There were, as always, some complaints among the attendees and many had to do with changes to procedures from previous years. During registration, each person was give four (4) drink tickets for the Monday and Tuesday parties. Previously the drinks were free at these events. Since the generic paper tickets given out at registration came from the office supplies chain Staples, some attendees considered just driving to a local store to buy some more. In the end IBM did not enforce the drink ticket policy. They rescinded this in steps, first not requiring them at the Monday evening event where the 25th birthday of Lotus Notes was celebrated, and then again at the Tuesday party.
The traditional Wednesday party in a local theme park was moved to Tuesday last year, as the Kennexa part of the conference ended one day before IBM Connect (as the conference was called in 2013 and 2014). This year the party was held in the Dolphin hemisphere ballroom, with a band playing and serving some food and drinks. The party was two hours long, shorter than the theme park parties in the past. The loud music made it hard to talk, so I actually did not mind the shorter party. But I have to say that it did not feel anything like the events in the past.
It is obvious that IBM is in cost savings mode. The badge holders were regular clear plastic holders, not the much more elaborate and useful holders of the past with the conference name printed on it, integrated pen holders, pockets useful to hold and collect business cards as well as space for the convenient pocket guide with all sessions. But what irked the attendees the most was that the traditional pretzel cookie in the boxed lunch distributed on the last day of the conference had disappeared. In its place was a generic cookie that was not well received by attendees. The Twitterverse lit up as disgruntled attendees expressed their strong displeasure using the hashtag #pretzelcookiegate. IBMs Jeff Schick even mentioned this during the closing session.
The exhibitors at the showcase were located in a new area called TechnOasis, two meeting rooms in the Swan conference section across the hallway from where most of the sessions took place. Personally I liked the location, it made it much easier to drop by the different pedestals between session than in the past. The area was much smaller than in the past and a little bit harder to navigate. I am not sure if the size was due to fewer companies exhibiting this year or because the available space was limited. As opposed to previous years I was able to meet up with pretty much every exhibitor, and I found some very useful products.
One of those product was Domino4Wine, which lets you run Domino Designer and Administrator natively in OSX and Linux. Prominic.Net worked with (and paid) CodeWeavers, the company behind CrossOver, to get the IBM products working in Linux and on OSX. Teamstudio also announced that their products work in this environment, and other toolmakers like Ytria (creator of scanEZ and several other Domino toiols) and MartinScott Consulting (developer of NoteMan) also plan to make sure their products work in this environment.
This is a very interesting development, and it shows that the business partners community see such a strong value in Notes and Domino that they are willing to pay for development that IBM really should have done, and which the community have been requesting for years.
The closing session featured Dr Arthur Benjamin, a professor in mathematics. He is what he calls a mathemagician, and on stage he squared two-digit, three-digit and four-digit numbers faster than the assistants from the audience could do it with their calculators. He even squared a five-digit number, but that took a little bit longer, about 45 seconds. He also explained the method he uses to perform these calculations. The closing sessions are always great, and this was one of the best ones I attended, in my personal opinion.
After the closing session there were a number of traditional events loosely organized by members of the community. Linuxfest was held poolside. This year it was more a review of Linux related news and a Q&A session for running Notes and Domino on Linux. Later that evening another tradition continued with the closing of Kimonos at 2am, followed by a gathering of about two dozen community members and IBMers in the Dolphin rotunda. Beverages were consumed and Mat Newman had his badge removed around 3.45am, marking the unofficial official ending of Lotusphere (or ConnectED if you are IBM).
People said farewell, with the usual “see you next year” and “see you next time” even though we were all acutely aware of the lack of future plans for the conference. Some people hope that the success of ConnectED 2015 (rumors talk about over 3000 paying customers, as opposed to the planned 1500) will pave the way for a Lotusphere 2016.
In my opinion the most likely resolution is that IBM will fold the conference into one of their mega-conferences in Las Vegas. The important thing then is that the ICS (Collaboration) products like Notes, Domino, Verse and Connections must have their own section and not be so mixed in and diluted with all other products. That would make it very hard to find our specific sessions and also be a huge disadvantage for the active and engaged Notes community itself. There is a need to have a place to congregate as specialists in this field so that we can meet, congregate, learn from each other, re-invigorate and motivate ourselves and enjoy each others company.
At the closing session, Liz Urheim from IBM said that the plans were still being discussed, but that there would be a ConnectED/Lotusphere in one form or another. She promised some news in the next few months. Soon we shall see.
On a personal note, I am happy I got to see so many of my friends, and as always I made some new ones. Some of my long-time friends were missing and their absence was noted. What is clear is that they are still part of the community even if they do not attend anymore or have moved on to work with other products or platforms. Once in, never out.
With this I am saying goodbye Orlando and goodbye Lotusphere. See you all next year, wherever and under what name it may be. To me it will always be Lotusphere.
Today it is one week until IBM ConnectED, the conference formerly known as Lotusphere (and briefly also as IBM Connect) opens the doors in Orlando. This might be the last year the Lotus faithfuls gather at Walt Disney Swan to drink from the firehose of knowledge, as Lotusphere used to be described. Back in 2006 (if my memory is correct), IBM announced during the conference that the company had renewed the contract with Dolphin & Swan until 2015, a year that then was far in the future. Now we are there, and I an convinced that IBM will merge Lotusphere/Connect/ConnectED with one of their other big conferences.
This year we will see many changes. Some are already known, other we will probably see when or after we arrive. Some of the known ones:
- The conference will be smaller, the number of attendees have been limited to around 1500. The number of IBM:ers have also been reduced to a few hundred.
- The conference will take place (almost) in it’s entirety at the Swan conference center. A few sessions have been listed on the official site as taking place at Dolphin, like BP101: @IF(“Its Really Good”;”It MUST Be Notes”;”Must Be Something Else”) 25 Notes on 25 Years of Notes! with Carl Tyler, Mat Newman and Alan Lepofsky.
- ConnectED is more technical than the last few years, with less sessions dedicated to case studies and panels, and more focus on the technical aspects of the products.
- The conference is one day shorter, ending Wednesday instead of Thursday.
- There will be no theme park visit/party, instead there will be a poolsite party Tuesday.
- The Sunday night welcome reception will take place on the Swan Lake Terrace, as well as in the new TechnOasis area, which replaces the solutions showcase and social café from the past.
On a more personal front, some of my long-time friends in the Lotus/IBM/ICS community will not be attending this year, for a number of different reasons. They will all be missed. But many will still be there, and there are even several attending only the social events and not the actual conference. That is a sign of how strong the community is. I hope this will continue at whatever conference Lotusphere get assimilated into. The social part is the best part of the community. Like Volker Weber said a few years ago:
Let me tell you something: life is about people, not about technology. Your friends will be your friends. And you will see them again. And again, and again. Technology changes, friendship lasts. In change, there lies opportunity.
I am looking forward to the people of ConnectED 2015. And the technology. I am for example interested to learn more about the roadmap for IBM Verse as well as Notes/Domino on premises and in the cloud. I also hope to learn more about IBM BlueMix.
See you in Orlando!
Via Stuart McIntyre.