Firstly, let me say thanks to my brother Steve, his wife Zoe and the kids Tom and Melissa for putting me up (or putting up with me) for a couple of days. The Chunky Monkey was already in the freezer when I got there and we had bacon rolls for breakfast. Oh, and I enjoyed the time spent with you too.

I got to Orlando on Sunday afternoon, checked in, registered at the Lotusphere desk and then headed to some top secret internal Lotus sales training on LotusLive. Okay, it was top secret then, but wasn’t after the opening session (more on that in a second). Sunday night for the time for the opening party, and it was considerably warmer than last year.

I’ve already covered the opening session, so no need to go over that again. And I was going to focus on the announcements rather than Tuesday-night karaoke. I thought my renditions of ‘Sweet Caroline’ (accompanied by Lewis) and ‘Daydream Believer’ (accompanied by Chris) were rather good.

Anyway, the important stuff. I mentioned in another post that there were very few announcements about Notes / Domino, but there were lots of sessions and aspects of the product as such XPages, DAOS and ‘Alloy’ (the Notes / SAP integration) caused a lot of buzz. The reason for few Notes / Domimo announcements is simple… we’ve just shipped 8.5 and it’s too early to focus on version 9. Come to Lotusphere 2010 and it’ll be a different story.

So what were the big announcements? There was a lot of focus on Sametime, both the forthcoming version 8.5 and Sametime Unified Telephony (SUT). Version 8.5′s big focus is meetings – a new rich client, a new browser experience which loads in seconds and a new approach to meetings using always-available and favourite rooms. Add to that a new browser-based client, iPhone support and new contact list views and it’s quite an update.

SUT also received a lot of airtime, with demonstrations of a huge array of features (call management, routing rules, call transfer, conference calls, and a lot more). Expect it “mid-year”.

Connections 2.5 was the other big news. Despite the 0.5 version increment there’s a lot of new stuff… more display options for home pages, a ‘wall’ for profiles, and (I think the most significant) collaborative file sharing. This file sharing is also planned for inclusion in Quickr later in the year, so either product (Quickr or Connections) will give you that capability.

As I mentioned in the opening session overview, RIM’s Jim Balsillie joined Bob Picciano on stage to announce more Lotus / BlackBerry integration… mobile access to Open Document Format documents (spreadsheets and presentations to come at a later date), support for Quickr, and a new Connections client supporting Activities, Blogs, and Communities in order to augment the access already available to Profiles and Dogear. He also announced integration with Domino Designer and XPages in order to make Domino-based applications more accessible on a BlackBerry device.

And finally (although there was a lot more) the announcement that all things hosted or software-as-a-service would be branded as LotusLive. This includes Bluehouse which becomes LotusLive Engage, Sametime Unyte which becomes LotusLive Meetings and hosted Notes which becomes LotusLive Notes. The acquisition of OutBlaze’s messaging solution was also discussed with more details to come after the acquisition is finalised.

That’s all for now… although I’ll be speaking at various Lotusphere Comes To You events for the next three months.

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