My thoughts on IBM Verse, Workspace and others

Tuesday, November 22, 2016 10:33 PM UTC

Wow, this has been a very busy year so far. Busy in my daily work in the development team with pushing Aveedo to the current state and IBM pushing their stuff to the „outside“ world. This is no rant but just my personal thoughts.

What IBM did so far

The most important news this year was the commitment to Domino support at least until 2021. Of course they offer this as Domino is the platform to run IBM Verse on premises on, which brings me straight to the next „big“ thing: IBM Verse. It was intended as the „next generation“ mail client, replacing iNotes and of course the Notes client itself. I agree with the latter. IBM Verse comes as a web interface and a native app for iOS and Android. I can only report from the iOS version and this is quite neat and it works well. IBM Verse on premises (let’s name it VOP) though has reached beta 3 status this week and we expect it to be GA in December. 

VOP beta 2 didn’t come up with new features at all (from the end user’s point of view) but beta 3 does: you are able to change your profile image - WOW! Did you ever tried it? Maybe it’s just me or just our environment but I am bombarded with error messages when I want to change my profile image. Ok, it’s still beta. BUT if you offer a new feature it should work, right? Please enlighten me with links or infos showing me the other breaking features of beta 3 as I didn’t see anything at all yet.

Fix-Feature-Packs

What do I expect from the upcoming FPs? It’s feature packs, not fix packs. Maybe the give us fixes to features or features to fix something - that’s not clear. The intention of Fixpacks was to fix errors. We once had „QMR“s (quarterly maintenance releases) which I really miss since then. Fixpacks were the successors of the QMRs. But now? Feature packs are at least still cumulative, so you just have to install the latest on a fresh system.

A big sigh: IBM Workspace aka „Project Toscana“

What the hell is this? I guess I saw a dozen sessions (live or in webcasts) announcing the new communication center for „everything“, which means chat, file haring, status updates and integration to other services from the ICS portfolio. I always saw „constructed“ demos in laboratory environments. When Toscana - excuse me… Workspace - went live (as beta) for some IBM-ID owners it still had some problems and it was reduced to a minimum of functionality - which is fine for a preview.

Now Workspace is open for all IBM-ID users and it came with at least some integration features like own apps or predefined interfaces for other apps like Slack. There is a native app for mobile devices which is also neat - no, not neat, it’s even better that the web interface in the browser! There is no desktop app available (yet). The result: as one can integrate Slack to Workspace I instantly switched to use Slack as my main desktop app to be a part of the IBM Workspace channels (or „spaces“ as they are called). The point is: ADOPTION. How can I make people to adopt new programs, apps, technologies etc. if the ecosystem is not complete? I don’t ask for a finalised desktop app - but there isn’t even a desktop app available and that’s a show stopper. I really foresee the same disaster with Workspace as it was with Verse in the "public" phase...

I guess in IBM's „ideal world“ everyone is just „working“ from mobile devices with happy faces while sitting at Starbuck's with great connectivity. 

I may be an old fashioned guy but I ask myself: why should I need this at all? Ok, it’s persistent and it has Watson features - ok, just one feature which is called „Moments“.  It summarises everything while you were absent. But in summary it's just IBM Sametime with a WORKING history and you can share files and integrate other services.

A good point: awareness

You were absent? How you dare? What if you return from a 3 week vacation and want to recap everything in all your conversations in Workspace? Do you really want to do this? Imagine you have 10 conversations („spaces“) running. Just hit the „Moments“ button in EVERY SINGLE space - and your done. Really? I don’t think so. Watson gives some AI to this but YOU are the one with RI (= real intelligence) and you have to recap all this for yourself. I only have ONE space I am using but I am not able to recap anything important even using the Watson intelligence. 

The point is: about 4 or 5 years ago IBM told us we have to get rid off the clutter in our inboxes by NOT using mail at all but platforms like Connections. Fine. 2 years later they told us about IBM Verse, the new way to work - with mail. It turned out for me it’s just another modern UI for my iNotes with some Watson intelligence on top - ok. Now we have Toscana - excuse me again, but I like this name more than „Workspace“. We have Workspace, a Slack clone which is uglier than the original and with less functionality. AND it produces massive clutter in my point of view.

Conclusion

The mobile apps are brilliant from the beginning - they have bugs of course and some features are not supported, but I can WORK with them. I can’t work with the browser based stuff - neither Verse nor Workspace.  Another concern is that IBM raised the „IBM Design Thinking“ some years ago - which first looked promising to me for the first versions of the named apps but nowadays look outdated compared to other competitors. My point is: IBM always was/is one step ahead of others with new technology but always at least one step behind others when it comes to implementation and „the real world“ applications.

Just my 2 cents, YMMV 





Latest comments to this post

Patrick Kwinten wrote on 26.11.2016, 14:52

What frustrates me most is that the develop community is asking for improvements (performance, programmability, functionality) and IBM is just not delivering it.

If we compare NSF with more recent NoSQL databases for the web we all recognize the lag in modernization. How can we ever compete if we lack performance and functionality?

Sure IBM is throwing in all sorts of new integrations with Apache Lucene, but if this ever is going to be available (out of the box) for Domino developers?

Not that I understand a thing about the MobileFirst Foundation platform but why should a customer call to get an idea about it's pricing? https://www.ibm.com/marketplace/cloud/mobile-cloud-applications/purchase/us/en-us#product-header-top 

 

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