Lotusphere 2010 : IBM Project Vulcan and thoughts I have not read elsewhere

January 25 2010

In an effort to not reproduce other thoughts out there, before I go on, here is some great IBM Project Vulcan reading for you: Nathan, Peter, and Volker. I don't agree with everything all three of them said, but they really cover the news that came out.

As with Peter and Nathan, I got a chance to attend the 60 minute "Nachos and News" event for bloggers. This year, instead of saving a specific announcement saved for the event (like last year's Traveler for iPhone press release), we got 60 minutes to ask about IBM Project Vulcan. A few thoughts that came from that:

  1. IBM Project Vulcan as it is today is not a bunch of screen shots (like IBM used for the Hannover announcement a few years ago). It is actual code. It might not be code you would implement in the real world, but it is code. Those saying that it is not code are the same people who couldn't be bothered to make it to the event.
  2. IBM Project Vulcan is really not just about a vision for the Lotus product portfolio. It is more like a vision for how they come together and interact. Think of IBM Project Vulcan as a much broader OneUI thought process. OneUI created a standard look and feel for IBM Lotus products inside a web browser. Lotus Connection, Lotus Quickr, Xpages, and more use OneUI. But OneUI never applied to the core Notes client - just web apps running in it. IBM Project Vulcan will establish a common UI theme, but also common features and interactions. IBM Project Vulcan is very much a super 'theme' for the Lotus portfolio.
  3. When asked about the implementation, Jeff Eisen went out of his way to not commit to anything specific. But he could see a time in the future when the Eclipse.org rich client version of the Notes client had webkit built in.
  4. IBM is also thinking about how it can make the client interactively from rich client to web client to mobile client as common as possible. That includes exploring ways to use the technology within HTML 5 to explore new ways to provide off-line functionality. I specifically asked about DOLS - and I was told to not limit myself to existing technology.
  5. Expect IBM to really push the 5 technologies they have listed as their future focus: HTML 5, CSS 3, WebKit, OpenSocial, and Oauth/OpenID.
  6. The biggest challenge of the development team will be how the rich client evolves. This will not happen in a single version of product release. People who are looking for IBM Project Vulcan to be Notes 9 will be disappointed in 2011.
Finally, I think IBM wants to find a way to innovate with new ideas, new technology, but not repeat it's mistakes. IBM Project Vulcan will not be a two lane highway. This is not about building something new, it's about transforming what IBM has today into something better. It's about taking multiple moving parts and finding ways to integrate them into one. It is about refining the current products, but also the usage patterns and user interface. IBM Project Vulcan is the roadmap for future versions of all Lotus products. It is the blueprint for the future. Customers can see the vision and direction - the FUD of the competition that IBM has not direction or future for the Notes & Domino product line should be more difficult with this roadmap made public.

I think IBM Project Vulcan was the smartest move IBM has made in years. I also think it was a gigantic risk. The Lotus core spent much of Monday asking 'is this 8.5.2?' or 'what version of Notes is this?' on Twitter and in comments. Others had no idea what to make of it. And if some version of Notes comes out and doesn't look like the screen shots we got last stage, various folks will make website posts comparing the pictures side by side - full of negativity. But IBM is taking the risk - and we will get to see how it plays out over the next couple of years. I can not personally wait for Lotusphere 2011 to see some of these broad-painted ideas flushed out into products.

I am going to write a specific blog entry on IBM Project Concord in the next couple days.

3 Responses to “Lotusphere 2010 : IBM Project Vulcan and thoughts I have not read elsewhere”

  1. 1) Bill Dorge says:

    I didn't make it to Lotusphere this year and I've been reading about Vulcan. Maybe it was the fact I wasn't on site, but I guess I'm just not seeing anything to bold or breath taking here. In fact, it reminds me of Ray Ozzies three screens and a cloud vision he outlined at WPC last year, only they are starting to implement their strategy.

    I'd like to get excited here, but I've been doing this IBM thing for so long and lived through so many visions I feel like a DEADHEAD on the day after.

    The vision thing is OK, but the manufacturing company or hospital looking at a Lotus solution today doesn't care, all they are worried about is what I can deliver today will do the job.

  2. 2) John Head says:

    Bill - sorry, but your dead wrong when you say a manufacturing firm or a hospital don't care about a vision. They care very much. But in 2010, what most people care about is a hardware refresh and an upgrade of their operating system (the IT people at those organizations). Everyone I talk to is doing that this year - so it doesn't matter what is the new cool technology, it's not coming in 2010. IBM laid out a multi-year blueprint with how their products will evolve. Every customer I talked with at Loutsphere was very happy to see this direction. As for MS and Ray's plan - the only thing successful at MS these days is Sharepoint and Office. Everything Ray is doing seems to be a flop. Know anyone using it in the enterprise? Nope.

  3. 3) Bill Dorge says:

    Let me explain my point, visions and directions are subject to change or could just disappear after a few months or years. Remember SAA, on-Demand, SOA, and Microsoft had their share also, I could go on for days probably. In the end we just refocus and get a new vision.

    I'm glad the customers at Lotusphere were happy to see this direction, but I wouldn't expect them to say anything else, preaching to the choir. What happens when you take this message to a non-Lotus customer, or even a Lotus cusomter that doesn't attend Lotusphere, and start talking about a vision that's going to evolve over the next 5 years. Except for KC and a few clients in St. Louis, most of my customers are in the out lying areas of Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma, most of them would call that pitch fertilizer(or your favoite adjective).

    Don't get me wrong, I giggled and thought pretty much the same when I saw the video of Ray giving his pitch, it always appeals to the faithful in the crowd, that's why they are there. I'm just saying as someone who was looking in from the outside this time, my yellow glasses were a little fogged up.

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