I was very lucky to attend and speak at the fantastic Engage conference this week. I found it a truly uplifting experience.I have been full time in Notes / XPages for 14 years now but have only been able to get to LotusSphere / Connect once. These regional events are where I get my enthusiasm and ideas batteries recharged and come away with some great ideas about how to move forward with the ICS platform.
The things that impressed me the most were :
The fantastic community spirit amongst those who attended. I am not sure what Theo puts in the wine ( maybe it is just the wine ) but the friendly collaborative spirit of the event was great. I learned more in 36 hours through both the formal and informal sessions than I have in the preceding 3 months. I also came away re-enthused about the community, the product and IBM.
I was very impressed at IBM’s commitment to the event. There was obviously some much needed funding from IBM but it was the way in which Kramer Reeves, Pete Janzen, Martin Donnelly, Susan Bulloch and Mark Wallace ( the little known Mastering XPages author ) made themselves available that struck me the most. I frequently spotted them talking with a whole cross section of customers and BPs throughout the event rather than being locked away in conference calls or taking in the tourist sights.
OpenNTF was everywhere. They didn’t have a stand but they were mentioned in almost every session I attended. It really does feel as though OpenNTF is hitting its stride and the OpenNTF Essentials project is something that I really need to look into more. At FoCul we are still constrained by some customers being back on 8.52 but I think the time has come to try and move forwards anyway.
I also met Christian Güdemann, the new chair of OpenNTF. I found him to be very engaging ( in a softly spoken but determined Swiss way ) and I can see where he is going with his ideas around essentials. I think that most of us have used OpenNTF for small discrete parts of projects rather than whole projects. The OpenNTF Essentials project is an interesting attempt to have a curated framework that we can easily install and then use much in the same way as other Apache style projects such as Apache Solr. I am still undecided but I do know that I want to explore the option thoroughly.
While I am thinking about IBM and OpenNTF Kramer Reeves did ask how IBM could best help me as a Business Partner. I replied that the investment by IBM in OpenNTF, particularly with respect to Niklas Heidloff’s time, was the most effective thing that they could do. If you feel similarly then please let IBM know so.
The Sponsors were, as ever, at the core of the event. Without them it would not have happened. There were several local sponsors that I had not seen before and interestingly some were services based rather than product based. The ICS platform does seem to have a stronger market in the Benelux than it does in the UK.
Best giveaway prize went to Panagenda twice. I loved the power pack and my 9 year old son is totally absorbed by the magnetic puzzle. Panagenda seems to be a pretty impressive company all around from people through to products and giveaways.
Venue and hospitality
The venue was very good. Some of the speaking venues had their challenges with light and noise but overall I though that it worked very well. Breda itself was nice and the Engage hospitality for the speakers was very generous.