IBM Lotusphere 2010 showcases Canadian developers

IBM Lotusphere 2010 conference in Orlando this week drew developers from around the world to its product showcase, including several Canadian companies. ComputerWorld Canada caught up with some of them to hear their thoughts on IBM’s vision for collaboration technologies as well as some announcements that were made at the event.

Toronto-based Extracomm Inc. offers auditing and compliance tools for the Lotus Notes/Domino platform. IBM itself announced earlier this week several upcoming enhancements to Lotus Notes in the second half of 2010 including audit capabilities, social analytics and additional mobile support. Extracomm’s director for Latin American distribution, Richard Freund, said the company’s compliance offerings are in line with IBM vision for Lotus Notes. “It’s good to see we are moving in the right direction with auditing,” said Freund.

IBM also said it is opening its LotusLive platform, the hosted version of its Lotus software, to more partners. Marc Gingras, CEO & founder with Tungle Corp., a Montreal-based company that builds meeting scheduling tools for Lotus Notes, said making LotusLive more accessible to the development community is a great move on IBM’s part. Gingras said bringing to the cloud a platform that has been around for some time and “is a really solid application” will now make those capabilities available to be accessed in alternative ways.

Also at the product showcase was Waterloo-based Research In Motion Ltd., which that week announced a reseller agreement with IBM to sell its new BlackBerry client versions of Lotus Quickr and Lotus Connections. RIM’s product manager for enterprise messaging and collaboration, Valerie Wang, said IBM’s Project Vulcan, the company’s vision unveiled that week for how collaboration will evolve, reflects how applications are increasingly less about the technology and tools than they are about how people actually work. “If you need to have that application that’s in the cloud and still have that interacting with something that’s behind the firewall, that should be something that happens seamlessly and securely without the end customer having to worry about it,” said Wang.

RIM, too, plans to show similar mobilization technologies for that same hybrid on-premise and cloud approach, said Wang.

Toronto-based Point Alliance Inc. has been an IBM business partner for about 12 years and develops Lotus-based tools with BlackBerry integration. Vice-president of business development Jonathan Hamilton said the majority of Point Alliance’s customers are more interested in taking a phased approach to the cloud that allows them to take advantage of hosted offerings while continuing to use their existing on-premise infrastructure. “We don’t have many clients that have moved many things into the cloud and aren’t looking solely to move all their applications into the cloud,” said Hamilton.

In that sense, IBM presents some good opportunities for those types of customers to transition to a cloud environment, said Hamilton.

Ottawa-based unified communications vendor Mitel Networks Corp. builds telephony features atop the Lotus platform. Mitel Networks president & chief operating officer Paul Butcher said nowadays it doesn’t matter whether customers have software running on-premise, like a PBX architecture, as long as there is a reliable delivery mechanism.

“We believe there’s going to be a market where it really doesn’t matter whether it’s in the enterprise, whether it’s on the cloud, whether it’s centralized on one location, it’s really doesn’t matter,” said Butcher. “That should be totally transparent to the user.”

IT World Canada’s coverage of Lotusphere 2010:
IBM unveils Collaboration Agenda, Project Vulcan
IBM social tools not meant to replace IM, Twitter 
Lotusphere 2010: Nine things (including William Shatner) seen and heard
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