By this time tomorrow, thousands of Lotus customers, partners, and of course staff, will be in or on our way to Orlando.  The annual pilgrimage has begun, complete with all of the time-tested rituals.
This is my ninth Lotusphere Orlando visit, and my seventh as a presenter.  Some complain that doing Lotusphere at Disney has become routine, but I disagree.  I still get butterflies in my stomach in nervous anticipation.  There is always something new, yet built on that familiar, comfortable routine foundation.
Lotusphere 2005 promises to be one of the most exciting yet.  The Lotus organization is coming off a very good year.  The Workplace strategy has solidifed as products have shipped, and the doubts about the future of Notes, and how it will continue its leadership, have diminished.  The sessions are the right balance of strategy and technical, practical and planning.  There's a whole bunch of fun built-in, too, and definitely some surprises.

OK, with all that as prelude, here are some recommended ways to make the most of Lotusphere 2005.  These are not official position, though I am one of the four people who selected the content for the event.  But I can't really say they're unofficial either -- that would be the Unofficial Guide to Lotusphere, which e-Pro will be distributing (and I'm looking forward to seeing myself!).

  • Sunday's JumpStart sessions are, in my opinion, the most useful we've ever assembled.  These 14 in-depth sessions form a great foundation for the rest of the week.  The product's architects will do a deep-dive on the IBM Workplace client technology (JMP109).  Developers can get to know the Rational Application Developer (WebSphere Studio, JMP105).  Admins can deep-dive on the Domino Administrator (JMP111). Tom Duff and Joe Litton will teach you everything you need to know about Java, and John Head will manufacture glue between Notes and Office.
  • Likewise, the breakout sessions during Sunday's business development day are covering a lot more ground than in the past.  They are a blend of selling strategies, product updates, and market perspectives.  There are several presenters only appearing on the BDDay agenda, so give these sessions due consideration.
  • All of the breakout sessions during the conference are excellent.  I've personally reviewed more than 50 of the presentations, rejecting more than a few initially until they were just right for the Lotusphere audience. Here are just a few sessions or themes to watch:
    • If you are looking for the future, sessions on IBM Workplace Designer, Activity Explorer, IBM Workplace client technology and STR115 are for you.  Also, be sure to attend the panel on Tuesday morning at 8:30.  If you are a Notes developer, you really want to be paying attention to Workplace Designer...Andrew has a preview of why.
    • If you are an admin looking for way cool Notes/Domino 7 stuff, the Domino Domain Monitoring tools new in 7 are a highlight.  Don't miss the sessions on NSFDB2, the optional use of DB2 as the Domino 7 backend.  There are at least three on the agenda -- scattered between the infrastructure, app dev, and best practices track.
    • If you are a developer looking for way cool Notes/Domino 7 stuff, Web Services would be good to check out (there is a jumpstart on this topic, too).
    • Don't miss the sessions on leveraging WebSphere Portal with Notes/Domino applications.  I saw some demos and talks about this at our sales meeting two weeks ago, and find it pretty intriguing how Portal can take Domino apps and make them even more useful from an integration perspective.  Good stuff.
    • Thursday's Gurupalooza and Ask the Developers should be fun -- I am interested ot see what kind of questions y'all have for the gurus.
    • OK, beyond sessions, there's going to be a ton of other stuff to do.  Labs, product showcase, executive meetings, be sure to take advantage of all of it.  If you are trying to get some information, always feel free to ask for pointers and help.  The event team is there to serve you -- we'll get you in touch with whomever or whatever you need.
    • Most of all, have fun.  I promise you some magical Lotusphere moments, some nostalgia, and some defining events.  He who laughs most, learns best.

    Ultimately, Lotusphere is always about the people.  I've come to know many of you as my customers and partners through the pages of this blog.  It will be really nice to put new faces with names, and see all the familiar ones as well.  In some ways, I look at next week as the ultimate opportunity to connect with my constituency -- you.  If we do it right, your input and feedback will help the entire community find increased and new ways to be successful in 2005.  There's simply no other conference like it in the industry... so let's go make it happen!

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