Friday, April 3, 2015

ICS.UG and Engage recap



Last week I had an opportunity to visit and speak at ICS.UG in Bremen and then continue seamlessly to Engage user group in Ghent. Both events were amazing and transport between them organized by We4IT was more than special, a beer-bus with actual bar inside. I still wonder whether it is legal, definitely would not be in US.

I’ve been to several user groups in past, so I can compare them to recent events. Here are my thoughts:

Venues and organization
Every year events are better organized and take place in nicer venues. This is especially true for Engage where Theo is raising the bar for all conferences every year. It’s going to be hard to keep this pace, but everyone is doing their best.

Sponsors
This year there were many new names I never heard of, some of the classic ones were missing. It’s still good sign about the market as there are definitely people interested in IBM collaboration space. Also giveaways from sponsors are getting better every year.

People
People are what these events are all about from my point of view. It’s amazing to meet most of the best people from the community at one place. This time even some people I never met before like Nathan Freeman came to Europe. It was nice to talk to anybody at both events.

Focus
All these events started as Lotus user groups, but as product strategy, market and also experience of people who organize those events change, focus of these events change too. And it is good. It keeps us updated what real world needs and not just our yellow bubble.

Technology
I was able to attend most of development track sessions and the message is clear. It shifted a bit from last year, where we were trying to bring modern frameworks to Domino world like Bootstrap4Xpages, to integrating Domino into general software ecosystem. With IBM focusing on Bluemix it will be more clear in future that everyone has to find own way to build systems and solutions according to their needs. Systems are getting disassembled into services that can be integrated with any other third-party services in similar fashion. Biggest hints about future are:

  •  IBM is separating XPages runtime and Notes data store for Bluemix
  • From Bluemix XPages runtime you can connect to on premises Domino data
  • You can consume Domino data from almost any tools using e.g. REST, or even directly from for example Websphere Liberty using CrossWorlds
  • Not everyone is comfortable with JavaScript

Whole container based approach to application management has many similar characteristics with Domino running classic Notes apps. It was also easy to bring an app to a customer and just ‘push’ it to existing server where defined set of services were running. Nothing new for us, right?

Everyone should just find tools they feel comfortable with and deliver best possible experience for end-users. It’s probably not going to be still the best tool in 10 years, but if we only keep looking for the best solution, we probably never create any solution. The experience we have with Notes being stable ecosystem for 25 years is probably not going to return with any tool. We should be grateful for what we had, but that’s all.

Future
There were 2 special sessions at Engage. Session from Paul Mooney and Gab Davis about life of a consultant summarized thoughts I also noted in previous paragraph to people who still don’t get it. It was nice to see Paul again as he is one of the first Lotus UG organizers. As I’ve written already, those events are about people and as we all enjoy just to meet even when career path have taken us elsewhere. But this brings also external knowledge to the community.
Second session was about future of ‘Lotusphere’ or similar user group events as Engage. Everyone would love to share their social experience with as many a people as possible, doing many similar events in every country or region. But we all know it is not possible since we all have to do billable/real work some time and we have limited time for such social events. I’m not saying that there is only place for one Lotusphere, but there always will be high profile events like this Engage and then rest of more local events focused on information delivery. All the speakers are also attendees of the conferences and they come too enjoy them as well, remember they are not paid for the presentations, they go to these events to have fun.

Thank you
I want to thank to all the organizers, speakers and attendees, many of them I consider friends. It’s always nice to meet everyone in person. I also know that the work is not done the minute conference ends. There is always huge paperwork to get done which seamlessly goes into planning for next event. So I thank everyone for the work they do for the community.

See you all at another event somewhere around the globe.

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