Chatting with Canadian developers at Lotusphere 2011
IBM Corp. held Lotusphere 2011, its annual conference for Lotus developers, in Orlando where ComputerWorld Canada caught up with several Canadian developers building products atop the Lotus platform (see video) to get their thoughts on this year’s event and on the Armonk, New York-based company’s direction for Lotus. 
The director of marketing with a Toronto-based developer of a Lotus Domino-based enterprise content management software, made the observation that IBM appeared to be re-branding Lotus in an effort to perhaps distance from negative perceptions lingering about the platform.
“What surprised myself was the lack of the world “Lotus” at Lotusphere. It seems to have been replaced by “IBM Collaborative Solutions.” You can see it in the collateral … in the signage … and I really think this is a big move for IBM,” said Scott Tomlinson, director of marketing with Inc
Tomlinson said adopting a fresh brand with no existing marketplace perceptions will benefit IBM by stalling the degree to which Lotus Notes and Domino customers are migrating to Microsoft Exchange. With the understanding that Lotus is more than just e-mail, Tomlinson said the industry will have a more fair comparison between the two rivals in the areas of e-mail, collaboration and social. 
“When you change the discussion to social and not around e-mail and collaboration anymore, now all of a sudden Microsoft looks very old and they look like legacy,” said Tomlinson. “Why would an organization today go from a legacy Domino e-mail platform to a legacy Microsoft Exchange platform when in two or three years the real path might be cloud?” discusses this on its blog

A Montreal-based developer of electronic signature technology, Silanis Technology Inc., was also showcasing on the product show floor. Tommy Petrogiannis, president of the company, said IBM’s mobile and cloud push aligns rather well with its own. At this year’s event, Silanis showcased its software’s integration with LotusLive, IBM’s cloud-based collaboration suite.

Petrogiannis said IBM taking a mobile and cloud direction for Lotus also maintains pace with how quickly the IT industry is moving. “I guarantee you what next year will look like will be dramatically different from what it is this year,” said Petrogiannis.

Mark Durst, chief operating officer with Toronto-based Group Business Software, was showcasing its new Transformer software for making LotusNotes apps Web-enabled. Durst thought the theme this year, “Social Business: Get Social” was appropriate to extending the concept of social networking to the business and providing developers the APIs to integrate capabilities atop IBM’s collaboration software. 

“They’re letting us leverage the corporate tools that IBM has developed, whether it’s SameTime or Connections, right into our applications,” said Durst. “The APIs are really easy to work with and we’re really excited about that opportunity.”

On a lighter note, Durst pointed out the perfect timing of Lotusphere 2011’s theme given the recently opened blockbuster movie, The Social Network, for which special guest Kevin Spacey was an executive producer.

“Does that surprise me? What was the biggest movie this year? It’s all about getting social,” said Durst.

Our coverage of Lotusphere 2011:

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