IBM Connect 2013 featuring the Lotusphere program, or ConnectOSphere for short, is where IBM Collaboration Software's main event started being about Connections rather that Notes.
My recollection of my first Lotusphere -- in 1995 -- was that 'Sphere was all about evangelising Notes, what it can do and how cool it was, but a lot of the technical content covered the then old products, cc:Mail and SmartSuite.
In the same way, Connect 2013 was all about evangelising Connections, and with Notes and Domino on the side. But that side, as we'll see, is alive and kicking quite energetically -- and not only just over XPages -- there's plenty more to be pleased about.
I'm going to start by discussing the conference itself. For anyone who has been before, the layout and schedule were entirely predictable. For anyone who had not, and there were a lot of first-timers, there was much to be overwhelmed by.
There were changes, some things were different, but the overall feel was familiar. I heard that the attendance was 7,000, including IBMers, Showcase exhibitors and attendees. I have to say that I think that figure is optimistic, especially as the whole of the Dolphin ballroom area wasn't used for the Opening General Session.
Of course nowadays, and for the last seven or ten years, the show starts on the Sunday, with long Jumpstart sessions for general attendees to get a leg up on subjects that may be new to them, and also with Business Development Day for the Business Partners attending.
The first big change was that the Sunday reception started in the Showcase rather than straight round the lake. It drives attendees to the show floor first for free beer before going outside for more free beer and food. Hopefully that got some extra footfall to the vendors, who were in a nicely laid out hall that looked a lot busier than in previous years. It did all seem to work OK, and got the Showcase off to a good start.
Opening General Session
As ever, the show proper started on Monday with the Opening General Session, which tries to set a theme for the conference. This year's visible strapline was "From liking to leading; the rise of Social Business", within the overall theme "Get Social. Do Business."
Clearly the IBM focus is the Social Business one, with Connections leading the way. But for me, the OGS was not one of the best ones of recent years, though there are many out there out there who disagree with me.
It started well, with Alastair Rennie giving us a summary of 2012, noting highlights of 50,000 IBM Collaboration customers -- I'm guessing that the vast majority of those are Notes and Domino users -- and more PVUs now running Domino servers than on any year since 2009.
With over 1500 re-instatements to Notes and Domino in 2012, customers are re-learning power of Notes, Domino XPages and the XWork server, and the amazing value that the family has to offer. That was a great start, followed by some cool demos. It was a pity that Notes and Domino themselves, even with the imminent release of ND9, were hardly mentioned direcly by name in all that time.