A few weeks ago, I mentioned that the proposals for Lotusphere 2008 were in and session selection had begun.  I was staring at a pile of 200 great submissions and wondering how to get that down to 55 great sessions.  

Charles Robinson pointed out that 200 was 10% fewer proposals than the infrastructure track had received for Lotusphere 2007.  In theory, the reduced number was the result of some upfront planning work that took place in the Lotus product development organization.  The development teams coordinated their submission process more closely than in years past, ensuring less overlap and more consistency.  That was great, except that product development is only one constituency speaking at Lotusphere.

Today, as I hit the "approve" button on the last of what has become a 60-session track, I also hit the "reject" button on the last of what ended up being 178 rejections.  Yes, once we finished sorting out which sessions belonged in which track, I had 238 to consider for the infrastructure track.  And moreso than previous years, finalizing the session selection was really tough.  For the first time, I've rejected a few sessions that I really did want to have at Lotusphere (no, Mika, don't ask what they were, I still can't tell you).  I've worked to ensure that 99% of that content is covered amongst the sessions we are in fact having.  I also moved a few of the proposals to Birds of a Feather sessions, as they are more appropriately considered there.

The balance in the infrastructure track is really good.  The majority of sessions are around Notes/Domino, of course, but Sametime, Quickr, Connections, and WebSphere Portal all are well-covered, too.  There are also sessions on Lotus Web Content Management, Lotus Forms, Lotus Symphony, and even one or two other products.  There are a few cross-portfolio sessions, including a two-part marketplace perspective -- part one of which will be delivered by Paul Culpepper and me, and part two "from the trenches" as an examination of a real-world competitive situation.  This is as close to the "bake off" idea that was suggested by several of you as I've been able to come  -- and is a way to move from the defense of "the Boss loves Microsoft" of years past to the positive success of where Lotus is at in 2008 and beyond.  I also like a session from Mary Beth Raven and Chris Reckling on design directions for Notes, Sametime, and Expeditor -- since a few customers have expressed skepticism of whether the Notes 8 "extreme makeover" was a one-shot deal versus continuous improvement.

Even though I chose to single out three of the less-technical sessions in my track, don't worry -- 50+ of the other sessions are product-specific architecture, capability, configuration, management sessions.  I'm especially looking forward to the Domino team's public introduction of the improvements in the next major feature release, the roadmap for Lotus Connections, and the Lotusphere introduction of Sametime Unyte.  You'll absolutely get the technical information you need at LS08.  One simple example -- for the first time that I can think of, we're going to have a breakout session all about Lotus and the Mac, not just a BoF.

Part of the reason, by the way, for the increase to 60 sessions in the infrastructure track is that Lotusphere 2008 will mark a return to a three-venue conference.  While the last few years have featured some use of the Yacht & Beach Club conference center, 2008 is the first time since 2001 where regular activities during the week will take place there.  All of the tracks have more content as a result.  

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