As expected, now that a week has passed since the IBM Project Vulcan announcement, several bloggers, analysts, and pundits have offered initial reactions.  That there is this much excitement is clearly a good thing.  I'd like to pull out a few of the more interesting and/or provocative observations into this blog entry, respond to some of the questions or observations, and keep the discussion going.  Of course, there's way more out there than I can possibly capture, and this is going to be a long blog entry anyway.  So let's go.

First, the demo.  Lotus CTO Charlie Hill did a 5-ish minute demo of IBM Project Vulcan for eWeek's Clint Boulton.  In the video, you'll see both emphasis on the overall coupling of services, usability goals, and also the importance of social analytics in the vision.  The video isn't great and Charlie's low-key style perhaps under-sells some of the key thoughts.  Still, the reactions to this video have been very positive and this is a good tool.  Eventually, we'll get a better and more formal demo posted on

Then, some reactions.

Network World's John Fontana, who has seen it all in over a dozen years of covering Lotus, wrote that "Lotus bets the house on open collaboration plan".

At Lotusphere last week, IBM/Lotus showed its hand with Vulcan. .."I think customers are very content," says Bruce Elgort, president of Elguji Software. "What they did not see [at Lotusphere] is yet another set of versions, another set of features. They saw continuity, they saw that Vulcan is the Lotus vision for consuming services, something that is more standards-based and they saw software like Connections that is ready for the enterprise." ...

Vulcan is a concept for a platform of online and on-premises capabilities, both old and new, integrated via an open framework on the back end and by analytic software on the front end. The first manifestation of Vulcan will come when IBM/Lotus releases a set of developer tools into beta later this year.

The tools are a down payment on the forward-looking Vulcan strategy that analysts and users say signals Lotus is a strategic asset to IBM like never before.
ReadWriteWeb's Alex Williams was a cogent observer at Lotusphere 2010, writing "IBM's Project Vulcan: The Next Generation of Lotus Notes and a Rival To Google Wave".  He says:
We think Project Vulcan looks pretty exciting. It's being built with the right foundation, as a platform of loosely coupled systems. ... IBM is looking like it has its act together in the collaboration space.
In a subsequent article, he wrote
IBM's Web-based approach is distinctly different than the document-centric world of Sharepoint. It's this Web-oriented, open approach that may prove to be the difference for IBM. We'll have to see. Microsoft remains the major power in the enterprise. Its future is in proprietary systems. But who knows. As the cloud becomes more a part of doing business, Microsoft may continue to have the upper hand, especially if it can execute on its partnerships with third-party application providers.
I'm not sure I agree that Microsoft is "the major power in the enterprise", but either way, it's good to see efforts like IBM Project Vulcan are creating new mindshare opportunities for us.

Then there are some community observations.  Peter Presnell has a few blog entries that are relevant, the main being "My Search For Spock: Part I - What is Vulcan?"  I had recruited Peter to a special "sneak peak" of IBM Project Vulcan a week before Lotusphere -- and I chose him specifically because he was a new voice, someone who hadn't been part of the process for years, and because he had written a few blog entries trying to predict the future.  Peter also picked up on my hint that the ID103 session at Lotusphere would be worthwhile, and he spent time with the team in the Lotusphere usability lab.  Thus his 9-statement summary of IBM Project Vulcan is worth a read, as exemplified by
Vulcan does not represent a new initiative.  Rather, it represents a continuation of many things that IBM have already been doing for quite some time.  The creation of a vision should allow IBM to become more focused about what it adds to each of its products and why.  It should allow IBM to better define the overlap between the Lotus products as well as focus on integrating the products in a way that delivers real business value for its customers.  It is a focal point to which individual product road maps can be built (All for One and One for All).
Last, I enjoyed reading Redmonk analyst Stephen O'Grady's insights into IBM Project Vulcan.
An enterprise Facebook clearly needs to be able to consume a variety of assets. Further, it needs to help users effectively manage that firehose, by any means necessary. Of those two, I would submit that it's the latter that’s the real challenge. Google or Zoho, for example, offer tools that permit users to collaborate on presentations, share calendars, and the like. But who's helping users triage their extended inboxes?

There are startups like Gist -- who announced a partnership today with IBM, perhaps not coincidentally -- and Threadsy attacking the space, but the short answer is that no one yet has a good solution to the over-hyped but very real problem of information overload. IBM included, Project Vulcan or no.

But of the firms with an eye towards attention management, IBM has perhaps the widest array of assets to bring to bear. They have the table-stakes collaboration pieces, as well as some interesting experience in the synchronization and federation of persistence mechanisms (think Notes databases or, more recently, CouchDB), whether that's done client or server-side. All of which is interesting. What's more so is their analytical expertise, from Cognos to IBM Research. ...

The idea of marrying analytics to collaboration is not new -- I've been asking for it since 2004, actually -- but its time is almost at hand. Vulcan could be the first implementation for the enterprise, if not the masses, slated as it is for a 2011 release. But it will certainly not be the last implementation. Whether Lotus gets it right or not, we're all going need more analytics, all the time. Collaboration being no exception.
There is a lot more to discuss in the time ahead around IBM Project Vulcan.  Remember that, as stated in these and other blogs, Project Vulcan at Lotusphere 2010 was a vision-level effort.  It is the blueprint, now being applied to the future of Lotus Notes as well as other IBM Lotus solutions.  Not all questions can be answered today, and the answers to others are still being defined.  That's the beauty of a shared, collaborative vision -- we all have a voice in the future.  These voices highlighted here are among those I'm listening to as we move forward.  Please feel free to add yours.

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