Lotus Domino on Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Via my blog subscriptions I picked this wiki article on getting started with Lotus Domino for Amazon Web Services (IBM Lotus Domino 8.5.1 on Amazon Web Services: A getting started guide) and decided to look into it. The availability of Lotus Domino on AWS was announced at Lotusphere 2010 so this was a good opportunity to look into it.

The setup steps in the wiki article are easy to follow although the Lotus Domino image isn’t available in the Europe region “data center”. I had to choose US East or US West to be able to select the Lotus Domino AMI (read: “image”). For testing that isn’t an issue but for production you need to consider network latency to your server. If you have other existing AWS servers it may also be an issue as data transfer within the same region is free but isn’t among regional centers which can become costly for maintenance operations etc.

Besides that it looks slick and allows you to easily setup test servers based on templates. Also you only pay for servers as long as they are running so it might be a nice way to test big deployment scenarios. As mentioned earlier on this blog there are a lot of other IBM templates as well (for DB2, Tivoli, Websphere etc.).

Note that Amazon is not alone in this space. As you might have seen in the showcase at Lotusphere Group is also promoting their GroupLive platform as a service (PaaS) product. Some European companies might want to partner with a European company than with an American company.

Project Agora Next – imagine this for Lotusphere 2011

I’m currently commuting doing some late catchup on what happened at Lotusphere. Among other things I was lucky to have Stephan tell me to go and check out Project Agora Next in the Innovation Lab (Agora: Next Generation Meetings). This is very cool technology.

Agora: Next Generation Meetings
Agora is a collaborative media service with the primary goal of surfacing information buried in monolith meeting recordings by making it accessible from a collaborative point of view, as well as from an information mining aspect. This web-based solution enables users to upload recorded meeting video and/or audio, automatically create transcriptions and attach metadata such as micro tags and comments. Tags and comments are identified along the meeting timeline highlighting items and segments of interest. The metadata can be edited and improved upon through collaboration. Metadata is used to facilitate searching for segments of interest, as well as collaboration and discussion.

So what does it actully do? Well imagine that you missed a web meeting and/or wanted to see what happened in the meeting. Instead of having to sit through the entire recording the system has transcribed the audio, indexed the transcription and slides for searching AND made a note when something of interesting happened. So what’s “something of interest” you may ask. Well that’s a slide changing, new speaking appearing, a question being asked etc. With all this info you can jump directly to the interesting sections instead of having to sift through it all. Way cool. Oh! And the system also automatically updates your calendar so that when you search your calendar for that meeting you cannot quite remember, you’ll see the thumbnails and links to interesting spots right there in your very own calendar. It just got even more cool.

Besides being available in the Innovation Labs at Lotusphere Agora is also available now in LotusLive Labs (probably requires login to LotusLive but has some cool recorded samples) so you may check it out there as well.

Imagine stuff like Agora for all Lotusphere sessions coupled with a persistent Lotusphere Online community. How cool would that be. Persistent access to all sessions, transcribed for easy searching with a community aspect of tagging cool demos and the like. Wicked!!

Changing the way I approach selling the value of social software

Yesterday I spoke at Lotusphere Comes To You in Copenhagen (and will be again tomorrow in Århus) on Lotus Connections and how companies should consider implementing Lotus Connections. As part of the discussions we have been having at the office in preparation for these talks I realized that my take on social software has changed significantly. I have spent a great deal of time the last year(s) evangelizing, installing and talking about Lotus Connections but I never really took the time to stop and think about whether I was doing it the right way.

While preparing for the talks I realized that the discussion has changed from a “isn’t this cool technology” and “you got to have this to be forward thinking” discussion to a “how can you live without it” and “you need this to be current” discussion. And I think that’s where the ball dropped. You need this kind of technology to be current. Not forward thinking. Current.

From the discussions I’m having it still seems like many people think of social software as something related to their private lives. Social software is Facebook – it’s not something for use on the job – at the office we use e-mail. For some reason many consider it an either/or and that the two doesn’t complement one another. It’s also becoming clear that many are so used to using specific applications that the concept of having multiple interfaces for the same data/functionality and that social capabilities may surface in many locations is foreign to them.

Another interesting thing I realized is that I need to stop talking about Lotus Connections as a product but instead talk about social software services. If we start discussing Lotus Connections as a product we quickly get into a technology discussion which it really isn’t. We need to discuss the need for social capabilities. The customer may obtain these social services from other sources than Lotus Connections – they may come from LotusLive. I see this as an interesting way to approach the problem of getting social software into business.

Remember Lotusphere Comes To You next week in Copenhagen and Århus

If you missed Lotusphere 2010 then do remember that Lotusphere Comes To You next week in Copenhagen and Århus. Among others I’ll be no stage at both events to talk about Lotus Connections and how you may get started easily whether that be with an on-premise solution (Lotus Connections) or a hosted solution (LotusLive Engage/LotusLive Connections). You may sign up for LCTY 2010 here.