Thoughts about Project Vulcan


Project Vulcan was introduced last week at Lotusphere 2010, we first heard the term during the last 20 minutes of the Opening General Session.  I am sure over the coming weeks and months we will see more about Project Vulcan, but here are some of my initial thoughts. First I hope people understand what Vulcan is, and what it isn’t.  It is NOT a product, it does not have a ship date, and it never will.  So what is it?  Vulcan is a set of principles that will be used in developing the next generation of Lotus Software, this includes next versions of Notes, Domino, Sametime, Quickr, Connections, and the rest of the portfolio as well as any new products our friends at Lotus may come up with.  Before we go any further read back that last line, while there was no formal announcement of Notes Next (or Notes 9 as some expected) there was a clear commitment to it.  The statement I heard was after Notes/Domino 8.5.2 is shipped in the second half of 2010 Notes will be “vulcanized”.  While we still need to explore a little further what that means, it is a clear commitment to continue building on the Notes/Domino platform  In fact if you watched any of the Vulcan demo concepts they all revolved heavily around a next generation Notes client.

So what is Vulcan?  First is a commitment to a set of technologies that will be at the core of all development.  HTML5, CSS3, Dojo, and Widgets/Portlets  will all be key components in future development , there is also a commitment  to OpenSocial, Atom / REST, DXL, OpenID, and OAuth. So forget about all the acronyms and terms for a minute, what does it all mean?  It means IBM is continuing their commitment to open standards, and making their tools easily extensible to include third party applications, as well as fully integrate the Lotus products in to a single (notes) client. I don’t like the comparison of Vulcan to Google Wave.  Google Wave was touted to be “What e-mail would be if it were invented today” and in reality is a long instant messaging session (with playback).  Vulcan again not in itself a product, but rather the guiding principles of software development for Lotus in the coming years.  A lot of the fruits of this labor will show up in existing products, as well as any new ones that get added to the portfolio.  Additionally by further embracing the open standards it makes it easier to integrate almost any other service/application with tools in the Lotus Portfolio. Another focus of Vulcan  is the Social Analytics that we saw in all the demos.  Once could say Facebook Suggests meets the enterprise.

I can’t wait to see more of this in the products, but can’t help think that to prepare for products likely to ship in 2011, enterprises need to really focus on adopting the tools available today in order to have the data required to make Social Analytics work. I think that this is an extremely positive announcement, IBM Is committing to providing us with the cross product integration we have been asking for, with robust 3rd party support.  They are building from the ground up starting with the APIs to make the system open and extensible to all.   Finally in what I think is a really key move the technology will be available in beta during the second half of 2010, and served up via LotusLive Labs.  This will allow any developer to easily begin working with the technology, and building applications to work with it, with out the need to build their own back end infrastructure to get started.  We saw during Lotusphere how rich the Business Partner community is, as well as the number of partnerships Lotus is working on (Gist and Tungle to name a couple), this platform should  only encourage more developers and partnerships to work with Lotus. I know I am looking forward to seeing more about Vulcan as the details continue to develop and emerge over the next few weeks and months.

2 Responses to Thoughts about Project Vulcan
  1. Peter Presnell
    January 25, 2010 | 11:10 am

    Well done Mitch. This is perhaps one of the most insightful comments on Vulcan I have had the pleasure of reading so far. It is great to come back from ls and see others come away with a similar understanding and also identified the need to clarify what Vulcan is not. It is indeed an exciting time for the Lotus Community.

    January 25, 2010 | 8:29 pm

    Really nice summary. I too am very interested to see how this all plays out.