Lotusphere General Session: Summary
Blue Man Group was a lot of fun in the opening general session, pumping out jaunty music and staring at us all as if we were weirdos. Dan Ackroyd was the other big name. He was funny, plus he told a rather long tale about the wisdom of treating underlings with respect.
Senior IT staff from Coca Cola, HSBC, and NetJets told us about their companies' use of Lotus products. None provided ringing endorsements of Lotus, but they did illustrate how customers often enter into close technology partnerships with IBM/Lotus or other integrators.
The Co-CEO of RIM told us about how RIM's products work with Notes/Domino, and the collaboration between RIM and Lotus.
Various vague and unconvincing assertions were made from time to time about "tremendous growth" in the Lotus business.
The main announcements were:
- Continuing enhancements to Symphony (a suite of word processing, presentations, and spreadsheet applications) that was launched at Lotusphere 2008. Symphony is based on the open source OpenOffice.org code base and is hosted atop the open source Eclipse rich client platform.
- The availability of Alloy, which was also launched at Lotusphere 2008, as Project Atlantic. Alloy/Atlantic is a joint Lotus/SAP-developed offering that allows Notes users to access SAP data and applications from within native Notes applications. Sounds like a good idea, and it's available this quarter.
- RIM and Lotus announced that the BlackBerry platform will get various new or enhanced rich clients for Sametime, Quickr, and Connections. BlackBerry support is being added to Domino Designer. BlackBerries will be able to display Symphony documents. It was not made clear whether Symphony documents will be editable on the BlackBerry platform.
- LotusLive, a SaaS with a rich set of collaborative services, which will be rolled out over the next couple of years. Elements will include:
- LotusLive Engage, formerly known as Bluehouse: online meetings, file sharing, IM, activities, survey forms, live charts, and profiles/contacts
- Web conferencing and event management
- Social networking
- Web-based email and calendaring, through the acquisition of Outblaze
- Web 2.0 upgrades for Domino applications, using XPages.
- There are a variety of solid enhancements for iNotes, Sametime, Connections, and Quickr. Quite a bit of time was spent on attractive unified telephony enhancements to Sametime, which will ship in mid-2009. Connections, the social software product, is considerably richer. Quickr has been integrated with IBM's ECM offerings.
- WebSphere Portal has a number of improvments, including better analytics through third-party partnerships, improved mashup support, and various improvements to portal authoring.
... David Ferris
LotusLive: New Collaborative SaaS
At Lotusphere, Lotus announced LotusLive, a new collaborative SaaS:
- A cloud-based portfolio of social networking and collaboration services.
- Its capabilities will include Web conferencing and event management, online meetings, file sharing, survey forms, dynamic charting, profiles/contacts, chat, and Web-based email and calendaring.
- IBM's Bluehouse project is being folded into LotusLive.
- Initial availability should be in mid-2009, with webmail and Web calendaring services.
- Later in 2009, the rebranded Bluehouse services should be available (online meetings, file sharing, chat, survey forms, dynamic charting, profiles/contacts).
- Pricing information is not yet available.
- Some elements use the same code base as other Lotus products.
- Many elements use their own code, replicating areas of other Lotus products/services; e.g., the email/calandering part will come from the acquisition of Outblaze, a hosted private-labeling webmail service.
- Service is being integrated with third parties, including Salesforce.com and Skype.
- Sounds like a cobbling together of different products, with different code bases and looks-and-feels.
- Doubt there will be anything approaching seamless integration with Lotus on-premises products.
- The service has a reasonable chance of building a business, but it's not clear at this point that it'll be a major force, even in the Notes/Domino world.
... David Ferris