PenumbraGroup

Dear IBM, it’s not a zero-sum game (my Connect conference round-up)

On my way to Orlando, I drafted a blog post about what my expectations were for the conference. And then never posted it. So here, instead, is my post-conference round-up in all its glory.

The Good

      The Opening General Session was the slickest I have ever known. Having it hosted by Jay Baer gave it a flow that it had been lacking for a good few years, and he was a massive improvement over the disembodied voice of god we’ve previously had linking the different segments of the sessions. The guest speaker, despite being not known outside the US, was very good.
      Personally, this event was more serious and business-like than the last few. Less late-night revelling than previous years, and more conversations and meetings. Which is good in pretty much every way.
      Seeing friends. More than anything else, even more than the business side, this conference for me is about reconnecting with friends, and making new ones. You know who you are, but shouts out to a few people without whom IBM Connect wouldn’t be Lotusphere: Gab and Tim Davis, Devin Olson, John Roling, Mat Newman, Colleen Burns, Julian Robichaux, Jon and Justin and Catherine from Prominic, Carl Tyler, Andrew Pollack, Sandra Bühler and many, many more.
      I didn’t go to as many sessions as I sometimes have in previous years. But what I did go to was excellent: Mark Roden on ExtJS, Paul Mooney on Ethical Hacking, and Mark Myers and Julian Robichaux on Practical Java being three that especially stood out for me.
      SpankyBeers. One of the funniest evenings I’ve had for a very long time. Devin you are a legend.
      The surprise appearance of Warren Elsmore and Kitty in their capacity as Lego wizards.
      The Penumbra Group activities. Not least the Ice Cream social, where the Mexican Ambassador was to be found, although on the night the best milkshake of all was the one based on JD and coke. Just wow. But beyond that, the Penumbra Dinner on the Saturday was great, and Niklas Heidloff was a truly deserving winner of the Prism Award. And seeing and talking with my colleagues in the group is always more valuable to me than I can describe: they are outstanding people.
      Craig Hayman did a great job in his first public appearance as new “Lotus” head honcho. He has yellow credentials, and his choice of yellow shoes in the OGS was a miniature master stroke.

The Bad

      The OGS content. I realise they’re preaching to the pointy-haired bosses and the press, but IBM need also to take note of the fact that half of the audience (probably a lot more than half) are detail-orientated, and without at least some details the OGS comes across as being content-free.
      Notes/Domino content in the OGS: there really wasn’t any. Or, rather, what there was is mainly either a long way off or they forgot to mention the technology.
      Some of my friends who were missing: Bruce and Gayle, Tom Duff, and Rob McDonagh, and others. And of course fellow London Developer Co-op colleague Ben Poole.
      The session scheduling was dreadful. Far too many clashing sessions splitting the audience. They would be better to outsource this to people in the community who actually have a feel for – and care for – the content. As a result of this poor planning a lot of sessions were more sparsely attended than they could/should have been.

In

      They left the Dolphin rotunda piano unlocked for the first time ever. Somewhere on YouTube the is evidence, captured by Volker, of my late night musical improvised wibblings. For me it’s basically therapy, but nobody slammed the lid on my fingers so I guess I did okay. And thanks to Rob Novak for repeatedly intervening at the bottom end of the keyboard and dragging me back into G when I was trying to escape into another key. That’s probably a metaphor for something: you decide. ;-)
      Sleep: I had some.
      Staying off site for the first time since 1999. This may have influenced the sleep thing.

Out

      Kimonos: it wasn’t the hub of all social activity the way it has been the previous few years. Things change.
      I finished my term as president of the Penumbra Group. Lisa, Theo and Nigel will, I am sure, do a great job.
      Late night spirits-consumption in the Dolphin Rotunda. Not even once, this year. That’s probably for the best. Very few good things start with “which neat room-temperature drink would you like: vodka or bourbon?”

The Future

      IBM announced that the conference will be same time, same place, next year. The question on everybody’s mind, at least everybody coming from the Lotus products background, is how much the content of the conference will change. Will I be there? If it’s recognisably “Lotusphere” then yes. We will see.
      Connections. The future is IBM Connections.
      2014, and IBM Connect 2015, should be more interesting for us die-hard Notes&Domino lovers than this year was. Project Hawthorne and Mail Next will be a lot closer to reality by then. Even if the OGS skimps on them, expect a lot of news and far more product feature/release/beta announcements than we got this year. Also by then the Softlayer hosting stuff should be out the and real. The clincher for IBM is going to be what they can achieve with licensing to better support a payforwhatyouuse model e.g. per-user-per-month costs. In the meantime, if that’s your need you should speak to Prominic who already have a good story to tell in this area.

So, all in all, a good Lotusphere. For too long IBM has been ignoring Notes&Domino in favour of inserthotnewtechnologyhere. I rather hope that with Craig Hayman‘s arrival we might see more focus on the core products, and an awareness that this is not a zero-sum game. Watch this space.

Penumbra Groupie!

I was ambushed :-) at the Penumbra meeting this morning, and now find myself elected to the Penumbra board for the next couple of years.

Having been a member for the last 3 years, it will be interesting, and I suspect challenging in all sorts of fun ways, to fulfil this role along with my board colleagues Lisa Duke and Jamie Magee.

In the meantime, so far as this week goes, I’m looking forward to the Penumbra dinner tonight, and the (relatively recent tradition) ice-cream Tuesdae (sic) social event. And a very big thank you to Jamie, and to outgoing board members Carl Tyler and Wouter Aukema, for herding the Penumbra cats and organising these events.