IBM Connect (formerly Lotusphere) starts next weekend in sunny Orlando, Florida.  This is a tech conference I’ve attended every January for nearly the last 20 years.  I’ve attended as a developer, an admin, a speaker, the press, a blogger, and as a pointy haired boss.disconnecting

This past week has been filled with throwback photo apps showing me pictures of this day and that day in history, and every one has been brimming with pictures of this awesome yearly pilgrimage.  So many memories of really wonderful times.

This conference has meant an awful lot to me all these years.  I’ve met people from all over the world whom I will consider friends for the rest of my life.  I’ve been able to hire and work with people who were part of this community.  I’ve experienced bachelor parties, and cigar meet ups, and random dinners with folks who happened to be in the same town as me at the same time. It’s a special thing, this community.  And I’ve been thrilled to be such a part of it over the last 20 years.

So why am I not officially attending this year?  Well it really comes down to the technology.  We’re moving to Outlook and Office 365.  We will also be replacing our HR and ERP systems, and with it, some of our Domino development. Quite frankly a lot of the choices make sense, and we’ll probably have a better environment because of it.

So as IBM Technologies are fading within my place of business, so too are any valid reasons for attending Connect.

Unless I have an abrupt career change (which I’m not anticipating) I will be starting a relatively new chapter in my technology career.  It’s going to be weird, but the yellow bubble is like Hotel California.  I can check out, but I can never leave.

Nor do I want to.  I’ll still be on Twitter, Facebook, and here and I’m even taking a family vacation during Connect this year so I can stop by and see everyone.  I would miss you all if I couldn’t.

So, since my time in the bubble is coming to an end, I figure I’ll lay this out there for posterity.  It kinda seems like tooting my own horn, but it’s more for me to remember all the stuff I’ve accomplished with this technology.  I loved this tech, and it is what gave me an IT career and for that I will be forever grateful.

  • I started as a trainer, training 1700 users of a bank how to use Lotus Notes (version 3 to 4 I believe)
  • I became an admin and help desk for those 1700 users, supporting the software for everyone.
  • I became a consultant and was trained as a developer, and did work on Fortune 500 accounts
  • That same consultant gig lead me to admin work for a tech services company
  • So I was back to being an admin, and doing some dev work, and helping run an IT org
  • Then I went to my current company as an admin of all the collaboration services
  • 4 years later I took over as Manager of IT
  • The next year I became Director of IT and have been doing that for the last 7 years

In the same time span

  • I wrote professionally for Intranet Journal for 3.5 years on how to use Lotus technologies in your intranet.
  • I was a board member of Granite, the Chicago Lotus user group
  • I’ve blogged here about IBM/Lotus for over a decade
  • I had a white paper I wrote given away by a vendor at their booth at Lotusphere
  • I had a picture I took appear in every Lotusphere giveaway bag
  • I’ve spoken at Lotusphere
  • I’ve spoken at IBM Edge
  • I’ve been the official photographer of IAMLUG
  • I helped our company become a member sponsor of OpenNTF
  • I’ve been a part of several official IBM whitepapers, including writing one with John Head
  • I was one of the customer interviews for the worldwide webcast launch of Notes 9
  • I’ve had the privilege of managing and being teammates with the absolute best private company group of X-Pages developers on the market.

And as much as I have championed the technology, I wasn’t a total fanboy.  I made sure to use software that was always best for the job, not just because it had IBM branding.  A look back through my blog will attest to that.  Workplace Services Express is a very good example 🙂

That said, I owe IBM and Lotus an immense debt of gratitude.  Those companies are really responsible for me having a career and two decades full of wonderful memories and friendships. 

So thank you IBM, thank you Lotus, and thanks to all of you reading.  I hope everyone really enjoys IBM Connect this year, and I hope it goes on for decades to come.  It’s time for other people to enjoy the kind of things I have.

Anyway, I’ll still be around.  Don’t be a stranger.