UPDATE: It turns out I jumped the gun on an earlier version of this post in which I noted that IBM wasn't allowing press at its IBM Connect event. The press can come, but IBM does not have a formal press program (press room, press conferences, etc.) in place. So I might go after all... I've reworked this post to reflect that. Sorry for any confusion.
Back in the 1990s and early 2000s Network World reporters (including myself) regularly attended the annual Lotusphere conference in Orlando, documenting the use and evolution of the then-popular Lotus client-server collaboration software and its battle vs. Microsoft Exchange and other such offerings. IBM bought Lotus for $3.5B in 1995, then came the years of "Is Notes Dead?"
If you haven't used Notes in a while you might be surprised that the name and product (along with the related "Domino") live on within the IBM collection of enterprise social software including Connections as well as Verse, which IBM claimed upon its introduction in late 2014 was "reinventing enterprise email." In fact, you might be surprised that Notes lives on even if you were to pore through the most recent IBM Annual Report, where it barely rates a mention.
(Though as Notes creator Ray Ozzie once told my colleague Paul McNamara: "IBM has a history of never forcing its customers through tremendous changes; there are S/360s out there that are still cranking along, and I'm sure you'd find a few PROFS systems that are still out there. So I don't see that they would do something so reckless as to stop something [like Notes]. I just don't think that's in the cards.")
Not to say that IBM doesn't continue to sell Notes/Domino/Verse software and SaaS offerings in this market. Gartner, after all, includes IBM among leaders in the Social Software in the Workplace field alongside the likes of Jive, Microsoft, Salesforce and Tibco. All of these IBM products and services would seem to play a role in the belt-tightening company's transformation from a hardware-heavy operation to a cloud/analytics/mobility/security services supplier.
While I haven't attended a Lotusphere -- or now IBM Connect -- conference in ages, I thought it might be a good year to check in on things and mingle with the IT professionals, IBM business partners and execs, and whoever else shows up. Ditching the cold northeast for a few days in warmer Orlando isn't the worst idea either. (By the way, IBM Connect is not to be confused with upcoming cloud-and-mobile oriented event dubbed IBM InterConnect.)
But I was surprised to learn that IBM doesn't have a formal press program in place for the event this year, instead offering me a phone briefing in advance or during the show week. While it appeared initially that the press was not invited at all, it turns out journalists can come, there just isn't a formal press room/press conference sort of plan in place. So I might still go.
About 25 exhibitors, from Polycom to SugarCRM to a bunch of non-household-names, are listed as coming to IBM Connect. So that wasn't much of a draw. But IBM Research is going to be showing off its stuff, and sessions on topics such as best/worst practices for deploying IBM Connections and running IBM technology on Linux look intriguing.
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