Are IBM/Lotus conferences turning into Microsoft recruitment events?
03/20/2004 - To make sure this entry doesn't become abusive or derogatory, I reserve the right and *will* block any comments that cross the line from discussion to personal attacks. Of course, it's at my discretion... :-) Tom
I'm seeing a trend develop at IBM/Lotus conferences, and I find it a little disturbing. It's the inclusion of subjects, and more specifically speakers, who have a vested interest in seeing Domino developers become Microsoft developers. I'm not talking about sessions on how to integrate Word or Excel into your Notes application. I'm talking about sessions on how to use Visual Studio .Net to write .Net applications that use Domino, given by people who are Microsoft evangelists. My opinion... this is questionable session content given by inappropriate individuals.
First, the subject matter... I'm not against discussing Microsoft technology at an IBM conference. Rocky Oliver did some cool stuff with Excel integration in a session at Lotusphere, as well as John Head and his Office integration material. But the main focus was using Domino to do cool things with Microsoft software. The focus is still Domino, and the goal is to extend your Domino skills. I think that's completely appropriate for the focus of the conference.
At a recent German Lotus conference, Gary Devendorf was invited to speak. He's now a Microsoft "evangelist" and is focusing on exposing Domino developers to .Net. There was apparently a Domino.Net session, along with an Intro to Visual Studio.Net For The Domino Designer session. Here is where the line gets a little fuzzy. We've switched from using Domino to integrate with Microsoft. We're now talking about how you can use Microsoft technology to manipulate Domino. It's not semantics. It's a fundamental shift in focus. If you are building a Microsoft application, there is less inclination to incorporate IBM/Lotus technologies (just as Microsoft would like it). If Microsoft can get you to shift your focus to their platform as primary, they've won a significant battle. While this might be very good information to know, I find it to be marginally inappropriate for an IBM/Lotus conference that I'm paying money for. Gary will also be speaking at the Lotus Advisor conference coming up. Once again, I'm sure Microsoft loves having that venue...
Now, my main objection... the speaker. Actually, more the speaker's bias than Gary himself. I enjoyed Gary's sessions at Lotusphere when he was the LotusScript product manager. The guy is a great speaker and does great demos. But in his new position as evangelist for Microsoft, and with his stated bias, I find his inclusion at Lotus conferences completely inappropriate. Here are a few quotes from his blog (material copied as published there):
My titile is "Technical Evangelist". Every evangelist must do missionary work from time to time. Now its my turn. The EntwicklerCamp 2004 is a German Notes Developers conference. I heading there tonight. It will be great to talk with fellow Notes junkies. I'm arguably the biggest fan of Notes/Domino at Microsoft or even IBM. My mission is to "save" Notes developers by showing them how they can leverage their existing Notes skills and applications with the .Net platform. I have drunk the Kool-Aid (in this case I mixed it myself). I'm hoping my bag full of "Domino.Net" demos with help developers see the light. They have options. They have brains. Now is the time to use them.
Folks seemed pleased to see how easy it is to work with .Net and Notes/Domino. I use VB.Net for my demos because it reads like LotusScript. The only obstacle keeping everyone from going home and trying these demos is that less than half of the attendees had access to Visual Studio.Net. We need to fix this.
If only I could have shown Sharepoint, InfoPath MS Office 2003 and One Note. It would blow there socks off. I better get working a new demos.
Rudi ask “What do we have to do to get you back here next year?” The answer is easy, just let me bring a few friends.
Now... does this sound like someone who wants to help you be a successful Domino developer using Domino technologies, or a converted Microsoft developer who still needs to use Domino until they can get rid of it entirely? I wasn't aware I needed to be "saved" from anything, nor do I need to "see the light". Gary is very clear that he is less than pleased with how IBM treated him, and is now as pro-Microsoft as he used to be pro-Lotus.
Is there a need for Domino developers to know .Net? The reality of life in the business world says yes. There are plenty of businesses that use both technologies, or are converting away from Domino to .Net. These sessions could be useful in helping developers who need that information to make a proper transition. But if it's that important to Microsoft to get this information out there, let them include it in their own conferences. I still find it somewhat amazing that Gary isn't speaking at the .Net Advisor conference, but is speaking at both the Lotus and WebSphere Advisors. How many sessions are they going to let Ed Brill do at .Net Advisor on converting to a secure Domino messaging system?
If I'm going to an IBM/Lotus conference to learn and understand IBM/Lotus software and strategy, I do not expect (nor welcome) a speaker who has a title of Microsoft evangelist, and who is trying to get me to consider the use of Microsoft tools to build my applications. My time is valuable, and I did not pay good money to view sessions on how to shift my development focus to a different company and platform.
Is Microsoft going to try and sponsor the MS track at next year's Lotusphere? I'm sure they'd pay good money for *that* one...