“I went to IBM Connect and saw Verse . . . “ – Part II

February 12, 2016

Apparently, the lack of a overarching message concerning, among other things, IBM Verse is being recognized by more than one tech writer.

IBM’s assets in the collaboration and communications market really have not received as much attention as they should have. To be in a presentation where products such as Verse (IBM’s cloud-based e-mail solution and, as we learned, future on-premises upgrade to Domino) were referred to as having a ‘secret sauce’ seemed a missed opportunity.

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So, there are a few people out there, attempting to spread the word concerning IBM Verse and other solutions in the IBM portfolio and come away wondering why IBM is missing their opportunity. And the window is shutting. The Connect conference is done and put away, which means that free publicity like this will dry up as it waits for something / anything out of Armonk regarding the announcements and demonstrations.

“Momentum” is more like “fits and starts” or “wait and see.”

That is not what this product deserves or needs.

 


“I went to IBM Connect and saw Verse . . . “

February 10, 2016

This is a very positive article, but one that concerns me. It should raise flags within IBM, if they follow their products in the news.

I attended IBM Connect last week, where I checked out one of the most interesting products you’ve likely never heard of — a new email offering called “IBM Verse.” While there was a lot of discussion about how it better integrated social networking, what really intrigued me was the idea of putting cognitive computing inside an email client.

. . . I’ll close with my product of the week, which has to be IBM Verse, the fascinating email product that focuses on the user. If I don’t tell you about it, you’ll likely never hear of it.

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Connect 2014: Some Additional Highlights

February 14, 2014

Some highlights/announcement from Connect 2014:

IBM will consolidate the collaboration applications under one name, “Connections.” Example, Sametime will be rebranded Connections Chat (the instant messaging portion) and Connections Meetings (the meetings portion). Based on what I heard from the Product Managers in this area during “Ask the Product Managers,” it will be some time before they start using the new branding. It will take you and I much longer.

From PCWorld, comes this:

This means that the Connections bundle will include the Notes/Domino email platform, Docs office productivity apps and Sametime tools for IM, audio/video communications and Web meetings.

As those products get updated this year, they will be rebranded with the Connections name and offered as part that suite, whose core ESN software lets users create employee profiles, blogs, wikis, discussion forums and the like, as well as share, co-edit and comment on files and documents.

“Those products work together today. They’re fully integrated, but now the branding will provide clarity and focus and highlight all these integrated capabilities,” said Kramer Reeves, IBM Messaging and Collaboration Solutions director.

Consolidating these integrated products under a single brand umbrella will help IBM show prospective customers what it has to offer against competing suites like Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s Apps, as well as against vendors with narrower offerings, like Box and Dropbox in cloud storage and Jive Software in ESN.

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 For Connections, the following were announced:

  • File Sync which lets you synchronize files between your Connections Files repository, your desktop, and your mobile devices. You can pick and choose which files you would like to sync and differential sync is automatic to save bandwidth and time. File Sync with mobile devices is available today in SmartCloud. This is very much needed and will keep users in Connections instead of using competing products. It received a rousing round of approval from the delegates in the OGS.
  • Coming in Connections 4.5 IFR2, Ephox EditLive. A demo can be seen here, along with additional information.
  • Focus on user engagement. You’ll be able to personalize your activity stream and navigation bar and filter for content that is most important to you right now based on what you’re working on.
  • Search your activity stream, set up your real-time notification center and mark favorite content.
  • File galleries in Communities where you can preview files before choosing to download them and where you can manage, organize and share files visually.
  • Community folders which can be shared onto the overview page and browsed
  • @mentions everywhere
  • Secure external file sharing from a single internal instance of Connections installed on premises. External people will see only the information they were given access to, they won’t see public profiles and public communities. (Secure external file sharing is a feature of SmartCloud Connections today)

Coming in Traveler this year:

  • Ability to sync the trash folder with the server
  • Response indicators in inbox (reply and forward icons)
  • Sending S/MIME encrypted mail
  • Sametime awareness in the inbox
  • Integration with Connections services (Files, Communities, Activities)
  • Enhanced Support on Windows Phone for Calendaring, ToDos
  • DLP enhancements
  • Certificate-based authentication
  • New native Notes Traveler for iOS which allows cross-app integration and more features
  • Redesigned Android Traveler app

Coming in Sametime (oops, I mean Connections Chat, Connections Meetings):

  • Implementing additional on-premises Sametime 9 functionality in SmartCloud
  • Sharepoint 2013 integration
  • Chat logging for persistent chat rooms
  • More continuous video streams, video recording, optimized Citrix VDI support, content sharing with video, intelligent cascading MCUs
  • Mapping meeting management features to Connections
  • Integration with IBM Docs
  • Mobile API’s
  • Windows phone and tablet support
  • Ability to receive incoming calls via the mobile softphone

Of course, MailNext was announced. Screen shots and my thoughts can be found here.


Connect 2014: My Thoughts

February 12, 2014

Connect2014Banner

 

Unlike previous years, it has taken me longer to process what I saw and heard at Connect in order to have an opinion of the conference. Until now, when asked, “How was the conference?” I answered “good.” It was all I had.

Now, I have a better answer.

“Transitional.”

I believe that you have to be in denial to not get the overall direction IBM is taking with this conference and their products. Last year, it was, for the most part, the same as in previous years. It was if IBM was gently placing their toes in the seas of change.

Not so this year.

This year, unless you were “all in” with Connections, WebSphere, and Sametime, there was very little problem scheduling sessions to meet your needs. Oh, there were Notes/Domino/XPages sessions, but the first two were in, IMHO, in short supply. Development (that’s XPages )? Yeah, those were there, but hold no interest for an Administrator like myself. Except in AdminBlast where I learn how to turn off that feature. 🙂

I am very fortunate.

First, I was able to attend Connect with friend and colleague Barb Skedel. Together, we were able to split appropriate sessions, eliminating the whole “which session should I attend at this time” conundrum. Talk about stress relief.

Second, and most importantly, I accepted a full-time position with a company that is installing and implementing Connections, WebSphere, and Sametime. Unlike past years, where I was totally focused on Notes and Domino, this year I transitioned to every appropriate session for those areas. And, if it wasn’t for Barb, I would have been very upset at missing several key sessions. This was for me, a conference exactly like the ones in the past. Full of technical content on software that I use on a daily basis; Connections, Sametime, WebSphere, and Docs. Even as an administrator, you would find me in every “Customizing Connections” session that was available. And I understood exactly what the speakers were presenting and demoing. Isn’t that scary?

That should give you all you need to know about my present and future.

Notes and Domino? Of course, they are my foundation and in my future. However, this conference, in those areas, is no longer the “must attend” event if you’re an administrator. [Author disclaimer: I am not disparaging those attendees or presenters who came to Orlando and spent their time and money on those sessions. Honestly, take a look at the sessions again and tell me that Connect is for you]. Take another look at MailNext. While IBM keeps telling us that it runs on Domino, most, if not all, of the features coming in that product will require a Connections environment in order to take full advantage of those features. And if they don’t with the first iteration, they most certainly will with subsequent releases.

From my standpoint, that is a good thing. I want mail to integrate with Connections. Myself and my teammates have spent a lot of time getting Connections up and running and I want to leverage that investment as much as I can. Because if it integrates with Connections, then everyone will be using Connections, whether they know it or not.

Win-win.

I was not at all disappointed in this conference; Connect hits everything that I am now and will be. If I were a Domino administrator, I don’t think that this conference would be for me. In fact, I would never return. There isn’t enough content to make the conference worth the time or money (seeing my friends, that is another matter entirely. I would still “attend,” I would fly down on Thursday or Friday, stay the weekend, and fly home on Sunday night). Domino development? I really don’t know enough about Domino development to make a judgement.

You can sling all the “IBM says” and “IBM is committed to” statements you want about Notes and Domino. I firmly believe that Notes and Domino are a cash cow for IBM, and is treated as such:

Since the business unit can maintain profits with little maintenance or investment, a cash cow can also be used to describe a profitable but complacent company or business unit.

The place where IBM wants you to go, is exactly where I am going. And I feel fine.

One of the side benefits to attending Connections/Sametime/WebSphere/Doc sessions is that everyone was a new speaker to me. One of the side benefits of not attending Notes and Domino sessions was that I did not have to see the same speakers I’ve seen at more Lotuspheres/Connects that I care to admit. Oh, there is no doubt that they are very good, excellent, in fact, however I’d like to see some new people present. No, I’ll go even further; I’d like to see all new speakers in every Domino session (administrator and developer). Don’t you think that seeing the same people present at the same conference year in and year out is getting tiresome? Want to not have my thought come as a shock to the system? Try this: co-present with the person that will replace you. Then, the following year, take a seat in the audience while your protégé runs the show.

While I wait for that, I’ll just continue to support the regional User Group conferences to see new speakers and topics.

I’ve transitioned from a Notes/Domino Administrator to a Connections/WebSphere/Sametime/Docs Administrator and quasi-developer (you need to customize Connections, after all). Lotusphere transitioned from Notes and Domino to Connect and Connections, Sametime, WebSphere, and Docs. Connect 2014 was exactly what I expected and wanted from IBM.  Even in the labs, with the exception of the MailNext in theDesign Lab, I spent all of my other time with the Connections, Sametime, and Docs people. I didn’t even stop by the Notes/Domino pedestals. Even in the Product Showcase, most of my time was with vendors who are investing in and developing applications for Connections and Sametime.

Like I said, “transitional.”


How To Make Me Cry

September 12, 2013

. . . in frustration: Ask me to find IBM software on this site:

PPA

For a site that is used quite a bit, you would think that someone would be an expert at navigating it. Not so. I have said, in meetings with IBM, that it is “soul crushing.” Oh, I know what I want, it’s just finding it that kills me.

Which brings me to an idea I had for a session at a User Group Conference or even at Connect. It will be a panel of individuals from the audience and whomever from IBM that is responsible for this site. Someone will emcee the panel. All guests sit in front of a computer, at the Passport Advantage home screen. The emcee will ask the panel members to find and download an IBM software package. The first person to successfully do so will be deemed the “winner.”

I think that this session will take longer than the allotted time.

As an aside, my co-workers know when I am using that site, based on the sighing and the language that emanates from my cube. What do I hear in return? “Passport Advantage?” Then laughter ensues.

Just kill me.


Connect 2013 – With a Fitbit

February 11, 2013

Thought you may be interested in my statistics for the four days of Connect 2013:

ConnectSteps

I kept myself off the escalators as much as possible and had the Fitbit in my pocket from the time I woke up until the time I (finally) went to bed. Never once did I put the Fitbit in the washing machine. The activity also includes the Wednesday Night Party at Universal.


A Few Scheduling Problems

January 16, 2013

My first crack at the Connect 2013 sessions. It’s not as full as in years past, however there are a few problems with attending some competing sessions. I do not like the major holes, though.

ConnectCalendar