posted 6 Mar 2006 in Volume 9 Issue 6
Trend tracker | Lotusphere 2006
By Chris Harris-Jones, research director, information management, Ovum
January is not exactly the ‘hottest’ month of the year for conferences, but IBM’s Lotusphere conference was well worth attending this year, not just for the significant range of interesting announcements and software demonstrations, but to take in the ‘buzz’.
This is not as superficial as it sounds. This year, the show was considerably more 'buzzy' than last year when many delegates were still uncertain about the future of the Lotus family of products – in particular, whether they were going to be replaced by IBM Workplace, which was announced in 2004. The IBM suits worked hard last year to convince people that Lotus Notes definitely wasn’t going to disappear and, while that theme continued this year, they did not have to work so hard to convince people.
Here are some of the highlights of the show.
The new releases of Notes and Domino (version 7.0) were made generally available at the end of January and we had the first public demonstration of '
The convergence between Notes and Workplace is becoming clearer now with the availability of the Notes plug-in in version 7.0, which enables you to run Notes e-mail and applications inside the Workplace Managed Client. The
IBM also announced the next release of Sametime (version 7.5), which is due in the summer. This will add a number of features, including enhanced security and privacy, location awareness and embedded voice over internet protocol (VoIP) capabilities. IBM is also working with internet service provider AOL and the Yahoo! and Google search services to offer interoperability with their respective instant messaging services through a single real-time session initiative protocol (SIP) standard gateway.
IBM's multi-platform approach was emphasised with multiple announcements over support for Linux, the open source operating system, and Firefox, the open source web browser and e-mail client, as well as extended support for Notes on the Apple Macintosh PC. The company is also pushing its openness hard with increased support for service-oriented architecture and open standards, especially the Open Document Format (ODF) standard. While there are many areas of collaboration that do not yet have standards for interoperability, IBM is exploiting those standards that are already well established.
One particularly interesting demonstration I saw was the Workplace Client and Notes/Domino running directly from a memory stick. The stick is encrypted and is inserted into a PC with absolutely no software or data copied onto the executing PC. This brings the concept of mobile working to a new level, where you can take your own software and data with you on a small portable device, rather than lugging two or more kilos of laptop around with you. This product will be released 'imminently'.
This was a very positive event for IBM and shows that the company is really pushing hard towards taking control of the collaboration software sector. With the new software from IBM, and the many updates coming from Microsoft, this is an exciting time for collaboration software.
We are finally witnessing the transition from a collection of multiple disconnected techniques – a state of affairs that has represented collaboration for some years – into a more cohesive, integrated environment. We are not there yet and it is likely to be at least another two or three years before all the parts are joined up, but the future looks positive for collaboration software.
The battle between Microsoft and IBM in particular is going to continue unabated for the foreseeable future – to everyone’s benefit.