Sunday, February 2, 2014

All good things..... My week at IBM Connect 2014

Photo courtesy of John Roling.

Back home in Ohio after a long week away in Orlando.  This years Connect conference was different on many levels.  For one, a lot of the normal faces that I've come to know over the years were missing.  Another difference was the tone of the conference.  It's no longer just all about us.  This year, the merging of the Connect theme has truly taken over the Lotusphere themes that we were used to.  To be honest, I'm okay with that.  There was still plenty of sessions, plenty of content and in my opinion, was worth the money my company dished out for me to attend.  But the biggest thorn in my side was the mixed message at the beginning of the week.  In years past, the OGS was where we as a Domino community always found out what the future had in store for the product.  This year, we really didn't find out anything.  We were introduced to IBM's Mail Next.  While it's a genius merging of the Connections platform with mail, no mention whatsoever was made that Domino is still part of the technology.  None.  
So when the OGS was over, I was left wondering if this trip was a waste of time or not.  It wasn't until I attended Scott Souder's sessions on what's next with the Domino server platform and the Notes client that we learned that there is STILL a future for both of them.  While some feel that it will be just "dot" releases and fix packs, I took it to be more of a blended strategy with the Mail Next futures.  In my opinion, some mention of that, just a little tidbit of information like that, would have well served everyone had it been mentioned at the OGS.  The message in the end was clear, Domino and Notes are not going anywhere soon and the future for both is really in the cloud.  Cloud first, on premises secondary.  The only other thing I really wanted to take away from the week was the future of the Hawthorne project that was rumored last fall.  The excitement around that project is using ActiveSync technology to connect Outlook 2013 to a Domino server and have full mail capability.  That will be awesome!  I was hoping that it would be ready for Connect, but, IBM is taking a cautioned approach to it.  Which is good.  They don't want to roll this out, have us all run out and start setting it up and then a Tuesday patch be used from Microsoft and kill it in its tracks.  I hope IBM doesn't drop the ball on this.  This has the potential on being a TRUE game changer in my opinion.
As for other aspects of the conference, there were good and bad as always.  The food this year REALLY was lacking.  I mean, boxed lunches for two of the days and cold breakfasts as well?  At least this year there wasn't one time that I had issues with wifi!  They finally got that one figured out!  Another thing that has always been a stickler for me is the placement of IBM employees or other non-paying attendees at the front during the OGS.  Okay, the press needs to be up front, I get that.  Plus the IBM Champions, they have earned that right.  But putting the Kenexa employees right up there?  Come on, people like us that have our companies pay good money to attend want to be up close to the action.  Take care of your paying attendees first IBM.  Actually, the nice women at the door told me to sit where I wanted when the doors open.  The Kenexa folks were told that if they didn't have a seat when the doors opened, too bad.  So we sat in the midst of a group of Kenexa's and enjoyed the show.  It was funny, when Ron Sebastian appeared on the screen and everyone yelled out his name, the Kenexa people looked at each other and wondered why everyone was excited to see him up there.   Biggest beef of the week was the total lack of any session slides being available for download.  I was really looking forward to taking notes using the Windows Tablet I had borrowed from work and annotating the PDF's as I went.  Only one session Thursday had them available.  To me, that was a fail.
This post is titled, "All good things....". I chose that because on Thursday I really wondered if this would be my last trip on the Lotus fantastic.  If it is, I found myself surprisingly being okay with it.  I mean, this trip each year has become a large part of my professional career as well as a personal journey to see people that have become good friends over the years.  There have been rumors about next years conference not containing a technical track.  I've also remembered back to a Lotusphere from the past where they said that the conference will be held at the Dolphin until 2015.  So what does that mean after 2015?  Will they merge the conference further with other IBM events, change the date and location?  Who knows.  But what I do know that over the past 12 times I've been fortunate enough to travel down to Orlando, I've learned much, grown much and made connections that I will always hold on to and cherish.  But like all things, they do have an end.  And if this is it for me, it's been a hell of a lot of fun.  I made sure not to say goodbye to anyone this year.  It was "see ya on down the road."  

Also in case you missed it, here's my pictures from this year.  
Monday - American Authors at the OGS
Tuesday - Fireworks at Hollywood Studios
Wednesday - Out and about and Great Geek Challange
Thursday - Gurupalooza and CGS

So for all those that took time out of their lives to put together technical content to share with the attendees, THANK YOU!  It people like you in this community that keep it going.  I've done a session before at Lotusphere and know how never-racking it can be trying to get that together, practice and have the nerve to get up in front of a bunch of strangers and talk for an hour or two.  You all are amazing and did a great job!  
We'll see what this year has in store for me.  I'm fine with whatever direction it is as long as I stay employeed ;-)
See y'all down the road.


Thomas "Duffbert" Duff said...

Well said, Andy... on many levels.

Joni Snyder said...

Nice blog Andy! The whole things seems bittersweet to me - first time in 15 years not being in Orlando. My employer American University is looking for a move away from Domino - people don't like it even though we have 99.99% uptime. As AU moves away from Lotus I too will be moving away as I start my new life in NW Florida as a semi-retired person so in the end it won't make any difference what changes AU makes. But before careful what you wish for you might just get it. I truly missed seeing everyone that I've gotten to know over the years and missed those that didn't attend too. The times they are a changing...