What not to miss at IBM Connect 2017: Connections Pink

IBM Connect 2017 takes place later this month in San Francisco, and the last-minute push to increase attendance is already underway.  I’m a big fan of the new venue, and the shift from Florida to California, and so really hope that the event is a huge success.

IBM Connect - new city

One of the interesting aspects of the registration push has been the unveiling of some information that previously being kept relatively quiet – if not under NDA, certainly out of the limelight:

IBM Connections provides the platform of social tools you need to transform your organization. At IBM Connect you can explore the future of Connections including Connections Pink, in which virtually everything is an API, and continuous updates are achieved instantaneously. This collaboration platform learns and evolves with you, using cognitive computing provided by the power of Watson to give you more time to complete critical tasks and make your life a lot easier. This is the future of connectivity.

Highlighted Sessions

“What Is New and What Is Coming with IBM Connections”

Tuesday, 4:00 PM – 4:45 PM | Room 2011 | Session ID: 1305A 

In this session, explore what’s new in the brand-new IBM Connections release and preview a few new features being planned for the next release. See first-hand how IBM Connections can work for you and how you can embrace all the new capabilities coming.

Speakers: Baan Slavens and Rene Schimmer, IBM

“The Future Is PINK: IBM Connections Your Way”

Wednesday, 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM | Room 2007 | Session ID: 1048A 

Get an introduction to the PINK way of extending and customizing Connections – in the cloud and on-prem. PINK will allow you to work against modern APIs and easily adjust the behavior of Connections through powerful extensibility features. Come learn how!

Speakers: Andre Hagemeier and Maureen Leland, IBM

Connections Pink has been a rumour for a year or so now, and has been presented at a number of invite-only IBM events and conferences. I’ve not been an attendee at any of them, and so am still in the dark on a number of the architectural and implementation details. That said, what I have heard makes me extremely keen to hear the specifics when they are unveiled at Connect.

As you’ll know if you’ve followed me for any length of time, I’ve long been a huge fan of IBM Connections, and was probably one of the most vocal advocates for the technology over the first 5-6 years of its life.

Recently however, it’s been clear to me that there are some significant issues with the current releases of Connections that IBM have not been able (or perhaps willing) to overcome:

  • Complexity of the install, configuration and management of the platform (just listing the IBM framework products that Connections relies on takes a paragraph or two).
  • The length of time it takes to get an on-premises install configured and available for use.
  • The difficulty of making the codebase truly suitable for multi-tenant/SaaS use, which has lead to user-facing differences between the on-premises and cloud versions.
  • The complexity of developing third-party solutions that integrate with Connections, extensions that interface with Connections APIs, and applications that reside within the Connections UX.
  • The challenge of customising Connections on both on-premises (complex, difficult to maintain) and cloud platforms (limited) to truly suit an organisation’s needs.

That list above isn’t meant to bash IBM. Connections is still a massively powerful enabler for collaboration and communication. However, the issues listed have hindered Connections’ ability to deliver this value to organisations rapidly and then on a sustained basis, meanwhile the huge community developers (within partners and customers) that were used to creating solutions on Notes/Domino or other platforms have never been able to effectively transfer those skills to Connections.

My hope for Connections Pink is that the shift from Websphere to a platform built on well-known and understood open-source technologies that are easier to manage (‘continuous updates are achieved instantaneously‘), plus a real focus on ease of development and integration (‘virtually everything is an API‘) will once again make IBM Connections not just a platform that analysts consider to be one of the leaders in the market, but one that community managers, developers and end users are all passionate about and want to use.

I wish I could be at IBM Connect to hear this first-hand! However, I will be there virtually, watching all the sessions that are streamed and speaking to as many attendees as I can to get the lowdown on what is revealed.

So… Are you excited about Connections Pink? What are you expecting or hoping that IBM will announce?