Why Project Vulcan from IBM Lotus Matters

Project Vulcan

I know it’s been a couple weeks since Lotusphere, but I wanted to take some time to let it all digest before I wrote something about Project Vulcan. At it’s core, Project Vulcan aims to tie together all the products in the Lotus portfolio more closely, using a new consistent UI based on cutting edge technologies like HTML5, the Webkit browser, OAuth and OpenID, CSS3 and more. Then, they will use social analytics to give you the data you really want to see.

So let’s break that down a bit. Tying together all of their products is something they have been doing at a minimal level for awhile. Simply creating a sidebar plug-in doesn’t really cut it in the long run though. I think that now they really see the value in having some underlying architecture that supports all of their services. It helps those of us that utilize more than one IBM Lotus product. If it can make things easier in the long run for all the products, that will truly be a win for everyone involved.

For the new consistent UI, I think that’s cool in general if the Client, Web Browser and Mobile all have the same look and feel. But that’s not really earth-shattering by itself. What really excites me is the fact that they are going to do it all around new cutting edge standard technologies. For once, it really seems like Lotus is leading the way rather than playing catch-up. They are stating that they will utilize all of the new technologies like HTML5, CSS3 and more. That is a shift away from the past where developers had to wait for lengthy periods of time for those features to surface in Domino. To me, this is showing a strong commitment to Domino as a development platform. They are going to support all of these really cool technologies, and try to make it work the same in all three versions of the client. This is really huge.

And they are really focused on mobile, believe me. In fact, in one of the blogger panels I attended, it was said that they would almost like to make things work best in the mobile space first and then work backwards to the web browser and client. They see everyone doing tons of stuff via their phones now, and they realize that mobile is crucial to success of the product going forward.

The last piece, social analytics, is something I think IBM can knock out of the park. With all of the things IBM has been brewing in it’s labs over the years, there is a ton of technology that they should be able to integrate across the Lotus portfolio. Going forward, there is only going to be more and more information, and you need ways to filter that down into only the stuff you care about. The analytics will do just that. There’s already an example of this in Notes 8.5 with the Recent Contacts feature. Recent contacts scans the email you send and receive, and tries to base your email type-ahead on the people you connect with most. It’s a small thing, but a great time-saver. Think about what IBM can do with all of the information that flies at you on a daily basis. I think they are really strong here and can give us tools that will really help us out going forward.

There really wasn’t any whiz-bang news this year at Lotusphere. No big new product announcements (Traveler for Android not withstanding) but just a commitment to the existing products. I actually liked this for a change. Not a lot of flash, but there is a lot of meat behind what is going on. I hope this path really succeeds and we see the fruits of Project Vulcan sooner rather than later…