Thursday, October 15, 2009

Live Blog content fixed and a tip on CoverItLive

I did my first live blog yesterday covering Luis Benitez and David Rosenfeld's session on Lotus Connections and WebSphere Portal integration at the Portal Excellence Conference.

My experience with CoverItLive was very good, with one issue:  During the session Luis talked about using an iFrame tag to embed Lotus Connections.  When I typed the tag, including the HTML brackets < >, CoverItLive did not encode the tag as text, sending it back as a real HTML tag.  This had the effect of starting, but not ending an iFrame in the middle of my session notes, and cutting off all notes after that point.  The iFrame tag also broke the edit capabilities in CoverItLive, so I was not able to correct the issue my self.

I emailed the support people at CoverItLive and they were able to resolve my issue quickly.

Here's the tip: When live blogging with CoverItLive, be very careful of typing in text that would resolve as HTML.

Side note for Blogger users: I just found out Blogger has the same issue in their rich text editor. :-)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Live Blog: Luis Benitez on Integrating Lotus Connections and WebSphere Portal

I am at the Portal Excellence Conference this week and will be live blogging Luis Benitez and David Rosenfeld's session on Lotus Connections and WebSphere Portal integration.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Collaboration University 2009 Day 3 wrap up

Collaboration University 2009 just wrapped up today with three sessions:
  • The Future of Lotus Sametime (Rob Ingram, Senior Product manager, IBM Lotus Sametime)
  • The Future of Lotus Quickr & Connections (David Kajmo, Senior Product manager, IBM Lotus Quickr)
  • Bringing it All Together - Quick recaps from all of the CU speakers
The good news is that the CU crew had gotten permission to show us all of the latest Sametime features and news during the week.  Unfortunately, IBM is keeping other news on Quickr and Connections under wraps so they can make bigger announcements at Lotusphere 2010.  This meant that the two "Future" sessions this morning were more of a summary of the new features from sessions earlier in the week.

Probably the main bit of news was that there is a specific plan to release Sametime client updates for the Notes client which can be installed separately or using integration with the Notes Install Kit.

Two Collaboration University announcements on additional value:
  1. There will be ongoing education through the year available to sign up for, free for this year's students and discounted for older alumni.
  2. There is an online Collaboration University Campus providing a community of past students coming soon

Some folks are staying around for the extra hands on labs for Quickr Administration and Quickr Development, but I am off to catch a flight home.

My sophomore year at Collaboration University has been a great experience.  I have learned a lot, not just from the sessions, but from the ability to network with people and learn from their own experiences with the Lotus collaboration products in various deployment situations.  I look forward to coming again next year and hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Collaboration University 2009 Day 2

Day 2 of Collaboration University was a sprint of 8 back to back sessions.  Here is a summary of what I attended:

Quickr Performance Tips: Getting more from your Server (Warren Elsmore)

Warren gave us lots of good tuning tips, many of which can be found on the SNAPPS team blogs.  I was also on the Lotus Connections beta call going over detailed deployment and performance options and did not take detailed notes during this session.

Quickr Data: In, Out, Everywhere! A Wide Array of Approaches and Tools (Troy Reimer)
  • Many issues to consider, including file and folder names and folder level access control
  • Documents are easy to move, meta data is not
  • Quick and easy: Quickr Connectors or PandaBear
  • Use a migration tool such as Casahl ecKnowledge, Lotus Quickr Content Integrator, or DDM migration tool from IIUI/IBM
  • Mid-level: ATOM, REST, SOAP, API calls, Feed parsing, Web Services - SOAP calls
  • Harder: Native Notes Database Access
Customizing and Extending Sametime Meeting Centers: 8.0 and 8.5 (Carl Tyler)
  • The 8.5 Meeting Center is much more extensible than the current version
  • 8.0 customization tip: Just use a static HTML page to wrap the STCenter.nsf links
  • Avoid direct customization of the STCenter.nsf design
  • Sametime Online Meeting Toolkit supports a RESTful interface to create/delete/update meetings
  • Meeting Room Client Accessibility Toolkit is a javascript client that allows adding menu items to the Meeting Center and to Sametime Activities
  • Sametime 8.5 is based on Websphere/DB2 and meetings are reservationless and not scheduled
  • There is a simple web client and a rich client plug in to the Sametime Connect client
  • Rich client is required for advanced features like audio/video
  • The REST APIs and JSON allow for many ways to do customization and integration of meetings
Going Mobile with Rob Novack

As an extra session over lunch, Rob Novack led a discussion on the Top 5 things users want to do w/Quickr and Connections on mobile devices such as Blackberries and iPhones.  The main requests were for:
  1. Approve docs in Quickr
  2. Comment on docs
  3. Read/update a blog
  4. Manage tasks in Quickr and in Connections Activities
  5. Add folders/rooms to Quickr places

Rob also shared some secret information with us at the end of the session. (shhh!)

Your First Lotus Connections 2.5 Customizations Made Easy (Mitch Cohen)
Mitch delivered Stuart McIntrye's presentation that he will give at the Collaboration University in London next week. Mitch did a good job impersonating Stuart, except for the English accent.

We covered:
Themes - Look and Feel
Profiles - Changing, adding, and editing fields
Widgets - Extending Connections functionality

Key points:
  • Mitch recommends you only change the header and footer on the look and feel unless you have a solid business reason
  • Move your theme files to the HTTP server before you modify them
  • Use Firebug for easy testing of your changes
  • Additional UI changes can be done through JSP changes and iWidgets
  • You can now change language resource bundles without rebuilding the internal jar files
Using and Customizing the Sametime 8.5 Web Client (Carl Tyler)
  • STProxy is a lightweight Websphere based server that provides the web client and the communications proxy to the Sametime Community Server
  • Set up and maintained through the new Sametime Console
  • The Browser IM client will use the local Sametime Connect client connection if it is available
  • Provides a large subset of the Connect Client functionlity, but not A/V or screen sharing/capture
  • Built using the Web Client Toolkit
  • Look and feel is easily controlled through CSS files
  • Functional changes can be implemented through Javascript/Dojo updates
Sametime Telephony: TCSPI Plugins and Unified Telephony Options (Carl Tyler)
  • In Sametime 8.5, IBM will be providing better hooks for telephony providers for audio/video/calls
  • Client plug-ins give you click to call, voicemail, and presence awareness
  • TCSPI is an application layer deployed on the Sametime server can integrate with office integration, Sametime Meetings, and client plug-ins
  • Drag and drop to add people to a call is a nice feature
  • SUT does not integrate with Sametime Meetings
  • SUT is purely a GTS and ISSL play and can not be purchased direct from other partners!!
  • SUT requires Websphere and an IBM SAN and provides Click to Call, presence, and office integration
  • SUT provides call transfer to another device. This feature is also provided through client plug-ins from some other vendors.
  • SUT can also merge active calls to bring together separate calls into a conference
  • Most SUT integration and features are also available as TCSPI or client plug-ins from other vendors
Deploying Sametime on Linux: The Root of the Problem (Warren Elsmore)
  • Sametime on Linux is not hard to do
  • Once it is installed and running, it is exactly the same as any other server
  • The downside is that many third party tools such as telephony integration are designed for Windows
  • Warren prefers Linux for deployments, especially for large scale (>1000 users) systems
  • Linux is more scalable than Windows, has no CALs, and will contain only the components you want (no DNS, DHCP, Kerberos, etc.)

The Other Side
Once again cloning technology failed me and I had to miss 7 great sessions:
  • Sametime 8.5 Administration: Solutions Console and (gulp) Websphere Admin (Chris Miller)
  • Alphabet Soup: SSO, LDAP, DNS, LTPA, We Could Go On... (Chris Miller)
  • Quickr Themes Part 2: Adding Functionality With JavaScript (Viktor Krantz)
  • Sizing for Quickr Servers: Load Testing and Deployment Planning (Warren Elsmore)
  • Quickr REST and Web Services APIs for Mere Mortals (Viktor Krantz)
  • Quickr & Domino Apps Together: Integration Strategies and Concepts (Troy Reimer)
  • Top Quickr Support Issues 2009 (Rob Novak)

Tomorrow we wrap up with sessions direct from IBM on the future directions for Sametime, Quickr, and Connections.

Collaboration University 2009 Day 1, the other side

Collaboration University has two sessions going on in any given time slot, plus a hands-on lab open all day.  While not as bad as Lotusphere, where this year I had an instance of 5 concurrent sessions I wanted to attend, at CU I still find myself wishing I had a clone.
Luckily I got to see last year's version of most of the sessions I missed in Day 1, because it was some great content.  
Here is what I missed:
  • Installation and Configuration of Quickr 8.2: Best Practices (Chris Miller)
  • Sametime 8 and 8.5 Toolkit Overview (Carl Tyler)
  • Development with Quickr: Three Solutions Deconstructed (Troy Reimer)
  • Quickr Themes Part 1: Server-Wide Extensions and Custom Themes (Viktor Krantz)
  • Using Forms and Placebot: Three Reusable Examples for Quickr (Troy Reimer)
As you can see there is a ton of value in Collaboration University. These guys go into way more depth than you will see in a typical overview session at Lotusphere and they are available to answer questions or go into a detailed discussion.  I saw at least two people get critical issues resolved just by being able to grab an expert between breaks.

Go ahead and start making your CU 2010 plans for next September!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Collaboration University 2009 Day 1

Today I started my sophomore year at Collaboration University in Chicago. This is a conference focused on the advanced collaboration products from Lotus, including Sametime, Quickr, and Connections.

We started the day with a keynote from Louis Richardson, Worldwide Sales Executive for Lotus. Louis is an excellent presenter and covered the reasons why companies need better collaboration tools.

Some key questions:
  • How much time can you save with accurate information? (Do you have the current version of the file?)
  • Who wrote this, and why should you care - are you using credible resources?
  • Accurate, credible, instantaneous - it's about time. Are you waiting & wasting?
You can watch the full keynote right here!
Live video by Ustream
For the most rest of the day, I attended a series of sessions on Sametime 8.5 with Gabriella Davis. We reviewed the new infrastructure, new meeting center, and the new web based 'zero-download' client.

Key points for Sametime 8.5 are:
  • Key components are now based on WebSphere, including the all new Meeting Center and the web client proxy.
  • The standard IM components are still the traditional Domino based server, including the legacy Meeting Center.
  • Full meeting capabilities will now require the Sametime Connect client or the embedded version in the Notes 8.5.1 client.
  • Meetings are now persistent and can be used as ongoing team collaboration spaces, with documents, chat, and meeting minutes.
  • There is also a Sametime Media Center coming (just released into beta this week) that will provide audio and video capabilities.
  • The zero-download client is an AJAX based web client that provides a chat experience very close to the Sametime Connect client.
  • Sametime 8.5 is due to ship in Q4, 2009.
I also attended a session with Louis Richardson on Quickr integration with Enterprise Content Management systems such as FileNet or IBM Content Manager. Unlike Sharepoint, where ECM integration is based on using ECM as a one way archiving mechanism, Quickr (for Portal) can be used with ECM documents live in the team places. This feature will be brought to Quickr for Domino next may with Quickr 8.5. Perhaps most exciting is that the Quickr Connectors can be used directly with the ECM system to provide a much cleaner interface for end users to manage their documents, as compared to the native ECM web clients.

Finally, I wrapped up the day with Mitch Cohen covering the install and configuration of Lotus Connections 2.5. Mitch did a great job going through the details you need to follow to install Connections. See his blog for ongoing pointers and details.

Day 1 is ending with a welcome reception and a few beers before diving into the 7 sessions on deck for Day 2. Follow us on Twitter for live updates.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

IBM Expands Cloud-based Product Offerings

In the lead up to the Impact 2009 conference next week in Las Vegas, IBM is announcing several new products for running software in private and public clouds.

WebSphere Cloudburst

An appliance that allows you to host your own, private, cloud environment. This will be GA in 2Q and will provide access to software virtual images and patterns that can be used as is or easily customized, and then securely deployed, managed and maintained in a private cloud. A new version of IBM WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition will be included, optimized to run in virtualized hardware server environments.

Amazon EC2 support expanded

IBM is adding availability of IBM Mashup Center and Lotus Forms Turbo for development and test use in Amazon EC2, and intends to add WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere eXtreme Scale to these offerings.

IBM BPM Blueworks

BPM Blueworks brings strategy and business process modeling tools into the cloud and integrates social collaboration technologies borrowed from LotusLive and Lotus Connections. BlueWorks provides business users with the collateral they need to implement business strategies within their organizations based on industry-proven business process management techniques.

BPM Blueworks builds an entire community around BPM, allowing you to use design tools to build your process models, capacity maps, and strategy maps and to collaborate with people inside your company, with your partners, or with the larger Blueworks community. This will allow you to share insight around a particular process, such as order to cash. IBM SMEs will also be joining the community to add advice and share best practices.

Look for a press release this afternoon from IBM.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My podcast on integrating Lotus Quick, Connections, and Sametime

In December, I recorded a podcast for Innovations with Collaboration from IBM Lotus software

In the podcast, I discuss some experiences we have had working with clients to integration Lotus Quickr, Lotus Connections, and Lotus Sametime.  The combination of these three products really deliver great business value for collaboration and enterprise social networking.

Click here to download the mp3 file.