Lotusphere is over

by Volker Weber

My 16th Lotusphere has come to an end, and I am still digesting what I have learned. Currently sitting in the departure area for LH 465, service to Frankfurt. This isn't going to be pleasant, overnight in a small seat that hardly reclines.

There have been few major announces, LotusLive.com for instance, but Lotus has not told us much about how they are going to incorporate the Outblaze technology. The most important news to me came in kind of slowly on Wednesday:

Lotus is going to support ActiveSync on the Domino Server, delivered through Traveler as a server task.

This is going to take off a lot of pressure. Customers have been asking Lotus to support the iPhone, and they will do the same when Palm releases the Pre. For Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile there are going to be two competing solutions: "native" Traveler and ActiveSync. Traveler needs a client, ActiveSync has native clients on the devices, with Windows Mobile having the best implementation. S60 has to be fixed to an APN which means you cannot easily make use of Wi-Fi, and the iPhone implementation is lacking since you cannot delete or move messages when offline.

The bitter pill for IBM is that there were no other cards to play. ActiveSync was their only chance to connect the iPhone. And that means you have to select "Exchange" when connecting to Domino. It is going to be completely transparent to the users. The good news, actually the excellent news is, that many devices will be able to connect to your Notes mailbox, not just the iPhone. Nokia has standardized on ActiveSync, so have many other device manufacturers and server vendors.

Other news I liked: Connections 2.5 will finally be complete when it ships. This is the version you want, if you can afford it. Sametime 8.5 has shown some great new features, like a Meeting client that does not require Java, telephony looks very impressive. Since I have not been a Notes 8.5 beta tester, I have been impressed with the new calendar features. You can now add other Notes calendars as well as syndicated iCal calendars. I know that this has been available on the Mac or in Google Calendar for quite some time, but it's good to see Notes catching up.

I think a lot of people have been impressed and somewhat surprised by the potential of XPages. You can finally write decent web applications on Domino without all those web agents. Caveat: Designer 8.5 is not really done. It has some very rough edges, and according to many people I spoke with, seems to be buggy and unstable.

Today's closing session was a real treat. Best motivational speaker I have seen so far. Special bonus for sitting in the front row, right where he performed. Take-away: remember rule #6. :-) You can hear part of his speech on TED .

More when I am back in Darmstadt. Boarding now ...

Comments

Will Traveller ActiveSync also support the ActiveSync enabled versions of Apple Mail, Address Book & iCal that are due in OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard"?

That would be a boon to Mac users who are allergic to the Eclipse Notes client and currently reliant on IMAP and nasty manual contacts & calendar sync'ing.

David Westcott, 2009-01-23 15:52

David, I don't know what Apple is building, but Outlook for instance does not use ActiveSync to talk to an Exchange server, so I would assume that Traveler will not help you connecting those native apps to Domino.

You are touching on an interesting point that I just discussed yesterday. There are quite a lot of Exchange drop-in-replacements in the market. Why couldn't Domino do the same?

Volker Weber, 2009-01-23 15:58

Volker,

I have posted my reaction to this at Lotus “Intends” to Support Microsoft ActiveSync. For more of David Ferris' and my reactions to Lotusphere 2009, see our recent postings.

Nick

Nick Shelness, 2009-01-23 16:37

@Nick,

1) The word is "plan" not "intend" in the press release, subtle but relevant distinction

2) Your reaction on Ferris's site seems to say that you missed the formal announcement from IBM. Puzzling since it was demonstrated in sessions Monday and Tuesday, written about in the press on Monday night, covered by many Lotus blogs Monday and Tuesday, and formally announced in a press conference and ibm.com/press release on Wednesday (though I think David may have departed Orlando by then). While I am also grateful to vowe for writing about this, your post implies a bit of distaste in first hearing about this here. That this was at all possible for an analyst via a Thursday posting seems to be more an indication about receiving than about sending.

Ed Brill, 2009-01-23 21:59

Ed, maybe there actually is some fault at the sending end.


To the best of my knowledge IBM did not brief analysts on this news. If I can trust IBMers in the German organization, it is an important one. Why did IBM chose to not brief analysts on it?
As an important move, it was not part of the opening session. Nor was it in the press kit. I can only assume that it was omitted to not piss off Mr. Balsillie.
The news was leaked to the Lotus Faithful bloggers on Tuesday, but somewhat downplayed in the analyst conference that day. This would have been a great opportunity to tell it.
On Wednesday it was indeed announced as part of another press conference, that had a very, very low attendance.


Let's take a look at the press releases from Lotusphere:

Where would I be looking for this important news? There is no separate announcement. Instead it is mingled in with a new version of Sametime and Lotus Notes Traveler Support for Orange, Samsung and Verizon Wireless:

ORLANDO, FL - 21 Jan 2009: LOTUSPHERE - At the annual Lotusphere Conference, IBM (NYSE: IBM) today unveiled its plans to make key business collaboration tools faster, easier and available anytime, anywhere. Plans include a series of partnerships with industry leaders Orange group, Samsung and Verizon Wireless; a new version of IBM's leading unified communications and collaboration solution, IBM Lotus Sametime; and intended support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync.

"and intended support for Microsoft Exchange"

Interested readers can read the full release here >

Volker Weber, 2009-01-23 22:37

Ed,

As Volker has pointed out, the word "intend" was used in the press release. That's where I got it from, and why I quoted it. If Lotus can pull this off, it will be of huge benefit to your customers, but there are technical problems to be addressed, and I await reports of their solution.

By the way, and as I noted in my posting, I've been impressed with Lotus' willingness under Bob Picciano to take tough technical decisions, as evidenced both by the decision to support ActiveSync and to drop for DB2.

I'm looking for similar clarity of vision when it comes to unifying Domino development for both Web (currently Xpages) and Eclipse (currently fuzzy) deployment.

Keep the faith.

Nick

Nick Shelness, 2009-01-23 23:00

Oh come on guys, this is a silly argument and Nick, trying to analyze a conference without being there is making you look ill-informed.

Volker, you have quoted the subhead of the press release. Thank you for at least being honest enough to link the full release, where you will findIBM today announced plans to support Exchange ActiveSync in a future version of Lotus Notes Traveler.Seems crystal clear to me that "plans to support" is not "intend".


No, we did not pre-brief analysts on this announcement. My decision. We didn't pre-brief analysts on other parts of the Wednesday news announcements, and this was a conscious marketing/PR decision to ensure that we had a rolling stream of news coming out the entire event and that the Wednesday announcements didn't leak. Yes, there is also the aspect of Balsillie being in the OGS -- you don't kick sand in the face of a friend. The fact that we demo'd right away on Monday afternoon shows that it wasn't an attempt to bury this news, as you seem to be saying, far from it.

As for the analyst conference on Tuesday, we were not allowed to make product announcements on Tuesday since IBM was announcing earnings. The only reason you know that it was not discussed there is that you somehow convinced our analyst relations team that you had analyst credentials when you and one other reporter were asked to leave. I decided not to make a big deal out of it since we were not announcing anything during that analyst session.

We made many other directional statements and previews in various breakout sessions that were not covered in the OGS -- like plans for federated contacts and task management improvements in Notes as the other two examples in my own strategy session (which probably should have been billed as a mini-keynote, like Jeff Schick, Sean Poulley, and Bruce Morse had). The LinkedIn, TripIt, Tungle and Salesforce.com alliances -- one of which Forrester called "the most important news of the week" -- were also not separately press-released. Our PR team did a great job of blending a single themed press release to include this on Wednesday, along with the Samsung, Orange, and Verizon news for my side of the house. Would you rather have had 20 press releases from IBM? Thought not.

Last, as for app dev direction -- we had several sessions about building composite apps for Notes 8, including the one we announced -- Alloy by IBM and SAP. We are also looking at Xpages support in the client. I am not sure why this is set up as a binary -- we often provide multiple approaches for app dev within Notes, and have for 20 years.

Ed Brill, 2009-01-23 23:18

at least being honest enough

That's a good one. Usually I am being accused of being too honest. :-) I included the link so that everybody can see how well laid out the intent and plan is. It does not even mention the iPhone that Lotus is being beaten up about.

and that the Wednesday announcements didn't leak

That is why you did not tell the analysts, but did tell the bloggers? Analysts know the difference between "announce today" and "will announce in the future" very well. Actually, I do as well. I thought it was pretty significant news and did not spill any beans.

Volker Weber, 2009-01-23 23:31

Ed,

"trying to analyze a conference without being there is making you look ill-informed"

I also analyze the Microsoft PDC and HEC without being there. There is a great deal to be gained from reviewing slide decks/presentations and calling into press/analyst conferences and briefings. In a funny way, I find being able to review materials in peace and quiet as often preferable to the hustle and bustle of actual attendance.

"Last, as for app dev direction -- we had several sessions about building composite apps for Notes 8"

Yes you did, and I reviewed the slide decks. They addressed pulling data into composite applications from sources other than Domino (such as SAP). Given the big push at Lotusphere 2008 on Notes under Eclipse, I would have expected a lot more on accessing Domino data object in Eclipse this year. As I noted, there absence could be due to resource shortages (as was stated as the case for the lack of a LotusScript editor in the Eclipse edition of Domino Designer). It could also be signalling yet another change of direction.

"We are also looking at Xpages support in the client. I am not sure why this is set up as a binary -- we often provide multiple approaches for app dev within Notes, and have for 20 years."

Over that last few years, this has certainly been the case, but over the first 15 it wasn't. The whole point about Notes' (Domino's) approach to the web was that development for both the web and the client was pretty integrated (yes, one could specify fragments of HTML for Web deployment). I think that it is important that it becomes so again.

Finally, I'm not the enemy. I think that when off duty, you might well admit that over the last few Lotus lost its way on a number of occasions. I'm heartened by what is now happening, but there is a lot of execution required. Hopefully, by next year Lotus can embark on a vision that has more than a one year life-time.

Hang in there.

Nick

Nick Shelness, 2009-01-23 23:50

Finally, I'm not the enemy.

Good point. Neither am I.

Volker Weber, 2009-01-24 00:01

Ed,

You wrote:-

No, we did not pre-brief analysts on this announcement. My decision. We didn't pre-brief analysts on other parts of the Wednesday news announcements, and this was a conscious marketing/PR decision to ensure that we had a rolling stream of news coming out the entire event and that the Wednesday announcements didn't leak.

It was also a way to really piss of analysts. I'm a pussy cat compared to either Matt or Tom. I have no problem with you not pre-briefing certain announcements, but you have to tell us during the pre-briefings that you are doing so!

Nick Shelness, 2009-01-24 11:20

At least we now have an on-the-record admission that this is a pissing contest. Gratz.

The analyst pre-brief conducted on the 15th said on its opening slide "IBM Confidential until January 19, 2009". In other words, anything in that pre-brief would have been fair game for discussion on Monday. And as I said earlier, we did not want to make the ActiveSync support "the" news of the show, especially with the CEO of RIM on the stage and in the press conference. So we spread the news out over the week. This would have been easier had we been able to make a formal press release announcement on Tuesday. Because of earnings news and the US inauguration, we had to defer until Wednesday. We decided to preview for the bloggers on Tuesday night (post-close of business), along with other elements of Wednesday's announcements, such as the tie-in with Xerox and Lotus Foundations. That one wasn't covered in the analyst pre-brief, either, nor the announcement around Samsung device support for Lotus Notes Traveler.

To be fair, some of this is an internal discussion of how much to highlight a "plan" versus a beta or a release. We're also in a realm where one of the devices intended to be supported is manufactured by a company quite famous for their lack of pre-disclosure to anyone. If I had it to do differently, I probably would have held the ActiveSync news for 3GSM or something like that. But the main gathering of Lotus customers annually deserves to know that we are planning to address one of their key Notes/Domino functional gaps, so we made a call. And it played out very well, better than I expected...on all but one or two websites.

Ed Brill, 2009-01-24 15:38

Anyway Ed,

Regardless of when and where it was announced, I am sure that all three of us hope that it will be success.

Nick Shelness, 2009-01-24 16:02

I just posted information in our blog about how to download all the Lotusphere slides automatically:
http://blog.mindplan.com/mindplan/blog.nsf/dx/24.01.2009185410KLENZE.htm

Karsten Lehmann, 2009-01-24 19:04

I'm certainly not Volker or Nick, but I was surprised to see this one slipped into the week's news. I get the point about not being rude to RIM, but I wondered why this wasn't announced at MacWorld when IBM was there. Was that also due to the relationship with RIM? (That's not a snarky question, it would be a legitimate reason as far as I can tell, which isn't terribly far...)

In any event, I'm glad to see this happening. I'm curious about the details, but that will show up over the next several months so I won't harass IBM about it in the meantime.

Rob McDonagh, 2009-01-24 23:37

I think from my POV (a rather busy speaker/delegate) I too was heartened when I finally heard about the iPhone/Traveller support (having been ragging on Ed for over a year for it).

I agree with Rob in that there was a perfect opportunity to talk about Notes/Traveller/iPhone support at MacWorld, but I'm guessing there's a pretty good reason - even one that Ed perhaps cant talk about - why it happened. I cant see Ed or anyone else at Lotus deliberately deciding not to take aim at an open goal.

Given the 'wall of sound' approach as opposed to the 'tidal wave' approach, might it be useful, Ed (and perhaps constructive) to run a summary piece containing links to every piece of IBM news announced this week at Lotusphere so that other folks suffering from information overload (and in my case, sore feet) are able to see a definitive list of all announcements, and we dont go through this 'have/havent' cycle again ?


Cheers,

--* Bill "Whilst sometimes a PITA, I'm not the enemy" Buchan

P.S. I think I was nearly serious about stripping off in Beat the Geek.. ;-)

Bill Buchan, 2009-01-26 12:14

And do I get extra bonus points for referencing:

1. Nudity
2. Phil Specter
3. Macworld
4. Lotus Notes
5. iPhone
6. Lotusphere

In one single post ?

;-)

---* Bill "Still a PITA, Still Not the Enemy" Buchan

Bill Buchan, 2009-01-26 12:17

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