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LotusSphere 2005 Reveals the Future of Collaboration

Collaboration & Messaging
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If you've never been to Lotusphere, the first thing that grabs your attention when you arrive is that suddenly you're surrounded by true believers in the Lotus vision of computing. In this world, the true purpose of computing is not calculating the corporate coffers, but communicating and collaborating within a community of networked professionals.

"Where did all these Lotus crazies come from?" you wonder. "Surely they know that Microsoft has already won the collaboration wars!"

Wrong! And the sheer numbers in attendance tell you how wrong you are. The 7,000 people who attended Lotusphere at Disney World in Orlando are just the tip of a looming iceberg of more than 118 million Lotus Domino/Notes users, users that are networked not only though the Lotus Notes/Domino email infrastructure, but through highly productive collaborative workflow applications. Most are from large corporations in the United States. Many are from the largest organizations in the world.

The impact? By the end of the conference, you too will begin to believe that Lotus is not only a company, but a religious cult of collaborating WiFi geeks, running around with laptops, cell phones, Blackberries, Palm devices, and Bluetooth earpieces, merrily collaborating in their own virtual workplaces. Attendees were literally draped with small wires hanging from their pockets, which they plugged into their portable workstations in order to conduct business while simultaneously attending the conference. An errant strike of a single lightning bolt might have welded all these techies into one of the largest post-modernist wire sculptures in the world. And all of them were tied together through Lotus software applications. Some were even Web conferencing with the home office during sessions, holding up Web cameras to catch the presentations. Completely networked into their parent corporations, they were physically present in Orlando, Florida, but their minds were thousands of miles away, doing their tasks collaboratively.

The Lotusphere Excitement

So what was all the excitement at Lotusphere 2005?

First of all, Lotus announced an incredible number of new enhancements to Lotus Notes and Domino. Release 7 of Domino and Notes is to ship in the third quarter of 2005. I've already identified many of these enhancements in "The Once and Future Domino, Part 3: Release 7 Beta 2," and indeed, seeing these enhancements firsthand was quite impressive. What does this mean?

Well, anyone who was concerned that IBM might be positioning Domino or the Notes Client for retirement should see this R7 combo of Notes and Domino in action. This application environment is a perfect match for iSeries collaboration efforts, scaling up to almost any size of enterprise.

Other New Stuff

In addition to new Notes/Domino versions, Lotus also launched a broad array of new open standards-based software and technologies designed to give organizations the choice and flexibility to build the "front-end" of their collaborative solutions--on a variety of client devices, from PCs to mobile devices. These include the following products and enhancements:

  • IBM Workplace Collaboration Services--This is a single, integrated environment that includes a wide range of collaborative capabilities or "services," such as email, calendaring, instant messaging, electronic learning, Web conferencing, and document and Web content management. Built on a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), IBM Workplace Collaboration Services provides organizations with pre-built, reusable collaborative services that offer the flexibility to adapt to changing business conditions and react to market opportunities.
  • IBM Web Services for Remote Portlets (WSRP) Self-Service Validation Site--This program is designed specifically to give Business Partners the ability to validate and test their WSRP services to ensure they're easily integrated with IBM's WebSphere Portal. In addition, WebSphere Portal will include single sign-on functionality, increased support for industry standards such as WSRP and JSR 168, and enhanced collaborative capabilities through IBM Workplace client support.
  • IBM Workplace for Business Controls and Reporting Application Hosting Service--This is a hosting service to help customers manage documents and reports in connection with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. The service provides businesses with an alternative to building and running their technology infrastructure in-house by tapping into computer systems in IBM data centers to provide management of software applications. The service uses existing IBM infrastructure, personnel, and management expertise to help businesses lower costs and eliminate the complexity inherent in deploying sophisticated software.

Futures

The release of Version 7 of Notes/Domino ends the debate about the viability of developing in the 20-year-old technology. There are already plans for a Version 7.5 and a Version 8, and IBM Lotus has committed to keeping this platform alive and updated with enhancements well into the future.

In addition, Lotus says that it intends to raise the number of paid seats to 200 million over the next few years as it challenges Microsoft's Exchange Server with new collaborative offerings. But while the technical challenges of the Lotus offerings are top-notch, there are serious branding issues that IBM Lotus must address if the company seriously wants to move Lotus from mainframe environments down to the SMB marketplace.

Branding Confusion

Most of the activities that have been confusing customers and industry watchers about Lotus continue to stress IBM's branding nomenclature--a perennial problem that has plagued Lotus for years and has only been made more difficult by IBM's internal marketing brand mavens. How many times will the pieces of the Lotus Domino/Notes and Workplace architectures be renamed before IBM gets it right? When will they stop fiddling with names and start focusing on SMB packaging requirements? Certainly, IBM could take some lessons from Microsoft here.

Lotus Workplace, Domino/Notes, and IBM Workplace Brands

Lotus Domino/Notes is now being positioned as a part of the IBM Workplace collaboration brand. Previously, these were called IBM Lotus Workplace offerings, and they were uniquely positioned within the Lotus product line by the fact that they were programmed to open standards using Java. IBM is now re-branding with just the IBM Workplace (dropping the "Lotus" brand) and also incorporating elements of the Notes/Domino architecture within that brand, which are not programmed in Java.

Consequently, it's no longer truly possible to identify the underlying architecture--Domino/Notes vs. Java J2EE--simply from the name of the product. This was an important key for SMB organizations to understand product lines because some will not consider the WebSphere J2EE platform for their future applications. Yet these Domino/Notes customers may still be reliant on the Domino/Notes platform.

For instance, if your company isn't following J2EE standards but is aiming toward Windows .NET--but still wants to keep or expand the use of Domino/Notes--you will have to ask whether a product is a J2EE product or a Domino/Notes product. If it's a J2EE product, you will also have to ask if it requires WebSphere Portal Server...and a slew of other questions.

This is not a good incentive for SMB customers to consider the Lotus suite of offerings.

Cross-Branding and Package Pricing

The other frustrating part of the current IBM Lotus offerings--especially for iSeries customers--is the Lotus products' pricing structures and packaging offerings. It is still almost impossible for iSeries customers to identify the components that are required to advance the organization beyond simple Notes/Domino email. The nomenclature of the "Express" offerings was once a beginning, but it's not consistently applied to all package pricing, and IBM Lotus would be wise to start looking at the SMB market with the idea of better packaging. Here's the problem.

Most of IBM Lotus packaging is aimed at the mainframe environments, where clustered servers and high-end administration resource are requirements. Fortunately for these customers, there's usually a dedicated IBM customer representative who can ferret through the Lotus product line to get a customer what it needs.

In the SMB marketplace, however, providing Lotus products with consistent names and scaling the packaging downward to meet the specific needs of these smaller customers should be the number one priority for IBM Lotus. It's doubtful that they'll ever do this, however.

At the moment, IBM seems to be relying upon its Business Partners to wrestle these packaging offerings out of the Lotus marketing maze. But if IBM truly wants to expand these platforms into the SMB, the company has to start looking at the manner by which customers make their choices.

Examples of Lotus Brand and Packaging Confusion

What do I mean? Here's a good example:

There was once a Domino/Notes product built by a third-party vendor called Aptrix. It was a good product for building structured Web sites using Domino, and it was very successful.

IBM bought the company, merged the offering into its Lotus portfolios, and created parallel versions of the product for building Web sites using both the Domino/Notes architecture and the J2EE Workplace architecture. So there are, architecturally, currently two versions of the offering, one for Domino and one for J2EE under the Workplace architecture. OK, that's simple enough. But that's not all.

IBM Lotus originally re-branded the Aptrix product as "Lotus Web Content Management," internally using the WCM acronym in literature and affectionately calling it "Wick-Em".

If you are a new or potential Lotus customer and wish to purchase Wick-Em, you will not easily find this product. Nor will you find WCM! Using the IBM Lotus Web site, however, you might stumble across Lotus Workplace Web Content Management. However, this index entry mysteriously tells you that it is "Currently called Workplace Web Content Management." What does that mean? It doesn't tell you, so you click on the link, and you are sent to a completely different product page called IBM Workplace Web Content Management. Is this the same as Wick-Em? There's no way to tell.

But that's not all! You discover that not only are there two different architectural versions of this offering (one for Domino and one for Workplace), but that there are two different packages costing significantly different prices. IBM Workplace Web Content Management costs nearly $40,000. IBM Workplace Web Content Management, Standard Edition costs only $10,000. The more expensive packaging supports clustering, while the less expensive is for a single processor.

The point is, this kind of cross-branding and segmentation packaging is inherently confusing for SMB customers. Customers are skeptical that products in which there is a lot of package segmentation will meet their specific needs. They are skeptical that IBM Business Partners won't load them up with the more expensive elements that will remain unused. They want to understand what they are buying, and the IBM Lotus offerings are confusing.

And Wick-Em is only one offering within the Lotus constellation of products. Imagine trying to document the systems used in the organization if the underlying product names are constantly changing.

Consequently, IBM Lotus needs to work harder to provide a better solutions map--not only for its potential SMB customers so they can understand the products, but for the SMB Business Partners so the products can be sold.

Lotusphere as a Technology Fair and Conference

Finally, how was Lotusphere as a technology fair? It was great! There were over 150 vendors representing a wide array of products that were based upon the various Lotus collaborative architectures. The technology sessions were in-depth, and the educational offerings were superb. If your company is currently using IBM Lotus products but can't seem to find the right way to find the educational sources that you need, I can highly recommend Lotusphere as a cost-effective conference where your technical people will get their minds filled and your company will get its money's worth for the educational dollar.

Thomas M. Stockwell is Editor in Chief of MC Press Online, LP.

Thomas Stockwell

Thomas M. Stockwell is an independent IT analyst and writer. He is the former Editor in Chief of MC Press Online and Midrange Computing magazine and has over 20 years of experience as a programmer, systems engineer, IT director, industry analyst, author, speaker, consultant, and editor.  

 

Tom works from his home in the Napa Valley in California. He can be reached at ITincendiary.com.

 

 

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    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.

     

     

  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

     

     

     

  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.

     

  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.

     

     

  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.

     

     

  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.