Last September, when renewing our Notes and Domino Licences, IBM offered us a trade-up to IBM Connections SmartCloud. Essentially, there we were presented with two options;
1. 50% of our licenses upgraded to the full services (S1)
2. 100% of our licenses upgraded to a subset of the services (S2)
I chose the first option, knowing that either way I'd have a struggle on my hands with management when I wanted to take advantage of the full services but also knowing that it's easier to justify getting the other half of the organisation onto the new service than it is to widen services for the whole organisation.
We're still only half there but I'm very hopeful - it's the first time in years that I've had real confidence in IBM's direction.
So What is this Connections thing Anyway?
It's weird but IBM seems to have come full circle in the Domino product line. They spent years barking up the wrong tree with ideas like the ill-fated "workplace" which was intended to replace Domino but merely destabilized the entire IBM customer base, the equally ill-fated Symphony, which was designed to replace Microsoft Office and Quickr (which went through a few confusing name changes, looked good and then ultimately died).
That's a pretty short list, there's a lot more which I won't go into suffice to say that it takes a tenacious IBM customer to hang on through all of those bad decisions.
I deliberately ignored Connections when it first came out. It looked like yet another attempt at making a "Lotus killer" - and I'm glad I did ignore it because it's really taken many years to mature.
Connections SmartCloud seems to be a sort of hybrid of the various products which uses Domino and XPages as the "glue" to stick it all together. I was dubious at first but the more I use it, the better it becomes.
The key to connections is really to take things slowly until you build up enough understanding to make proper use of the product. In our case, we let our connections licenses sit there idle for about six months before deciding to do something about them (we were very busy with other things).
The key to getting things up and running is to get IBM involved. Right now, connections is a fairly new product and they're trying to gain traction. They'll be willing to help.
Contact your IBM Business Partner (or if you haven't got one, contact IBM directly) and ask for someone to help explain what connections is to you. It won't cost you anything and you'll benefit immensely from the experience.
If you have several servers, you'll find that connections can replace your mail server, your traveler server and your sametime server. You may also find that it replaces some other services. Personally, I'd love to use it to replace our file servers but I don't think our organisation is ready for that kind of change... yet.
Start with Sametime
Sametime is probably the easiest way to start with connections -- and the quickest way to see real benefit in your organisation. All you have to do is create users in connections and then push the passwords out to your people. They'll be able to logon and use Sametime on the PCs, Mobiles and tablets.
In my next post, I'll try to go through the rudiments of Sametime setup.