The LANSA 2010 Solution Summit in Chicago opened with a fun-filled reception involving Wii-bowling, pool, ping-pong, and poker… not to mention, great company, good food and an open bar. The customers on hand were as diverse and interesting as they have always been at LANSA Conferences, hailing from a variety of industries and organizational sizes. Although our COO, Martin Fincham from the UK, was held back by a volcanic ash cloud, some people came from great distances to join in, from as far away as South America and, of course, Australia.
Tuesday morning at 7:30am everyone was ready to go. After breakfast, our opening session began at 8:20am with an introduction by Steve Gapp (President, LANSA Americas), followed by a Version 12 update, product roadmap and futures presentation by Dave Brault and Madan Divaker. Finally, our keynote speaker, Warren Fristensky, CIO with John Wiley & Sons shared how he has been able to evolve his technology infrastructure to react to the dynamic needs of his business.
Dave addressed the LANSA technology portfolio and shared our guiding principles of “Productivity, Innovation, Integration and Adoption”. Highlights of LANSA Version 12 (GA since February) include Simplified Install and Upgrade, Repository Field Visualization, Support for Intrinsic Functions, Free Formal SQL, Secure Client/Server Communications, Large Object Support, Support for Long Userids and Passwords, Enforcement Triggers for non-LANSA and more. He reminded everyone that support for Version 10 will end on May 1, 2010 so everyone should upgrade before then.
Open Industry Standards, IBM/Microsoft interoperability and Business Objects were common themes throughout the LANSA Futures talk. Feedback from customers after the presentation generally indicated excitement that LANSA has continued to support advanced technologies as they come available without the need for complex coding. Support for WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), RIA (Rich Internet Applications), Business Objects and an extended Meta-data repository (including enrolling MS .NET components) are a few of the highlights.
Warren Fristensky from John Wiley was a dynamic and interesting speaker. As CIO/SVP for a publishing giant, which has grown through acquisition, his focus has been to align IT function and infrastructure with business strategy towards a common global platform architecture. With uncertainty over the future of platforms (IBM i and Windows) and applications, he said John Wiley is driving solutions and business value with LANSA to bridge the gap between platforms. LANSA provides essential reuse of functions across applications and platforms and sharing of data across the enterprise.
With only one day and a lot of material to cover, attendees had to choose which topics were of most interest to them. Technology solution sessions included: Modernization, eCommerce, Business Process Integration, and IBM/Microsoft Interoperability. Soft skills sessions offered were: Using ROI to get your projects approved and Agile Development and PM Best Practices.
Two sessions – Modernization and Business Process Integration involved participation by a customer who shared their stories. Everyone enjoyed experiencing the real world challenges and solutions employed by these customers. Thanks to both Greg Johnson from Mincron and Robert Boudreau from Robinson Manufacturing for sharing their successes with RAMP and LANSA Composer, respectively.
Don Nelson and Dave Brault from LANSA joined Greg Johnson in the Modernization session to discuss the challenges of leveraging a legacy system and transforming it to meet modern day expectations, including tips and techniques for modernization using Visual LANSA Framework and RAMP. Customer comments varied widely with some suggesting it was too much information for one session and others requesting more advanced modernization topics. Overall, these two customer comments reflected a common viewpoint: “Mincron portion was nice!” and “Good to see an actual RAMP project.”
In the Business Process Integration session, Edward was joined by Dermot O’Doherty and Randy Mercer from LANSA. They discussed automation and integration of transactional data from any source to improve business processing and produce significant benefits to the bottom line for any business. Customer comments from this session:
- “Critical Discussion of key management requirements in IT Today. Piqued interest in Composer and Disparate System Integration”
- “Good overview of Composer. Good experience remarks by Edward.”
- “This session will make me look at Composer in more detail”
John Kelly and Bob Gleisner from LANSA covered eCommerce (or how to ‘teach an old site new tricks’) with a different emphasis than in past conferences. Significant focus was given to new web development techniques, such as SEO, JQuery, JSON, and AJAX with specific examples on how to use these technologies with LANSA’s web development tools. Specific comments from customers who attended eCommerce included:
- “This is precisely what I have been looking at actively for my current projects. This has answered a major number of things that I was wondering about.”
- “I felt it was a great mix of theory and examples”
- “Thought session was good. Just started working with JQuery, JSON, and AJAX so topic was very timely for me.”
- “Tools demonstrated are things that we will be looking at rolling out”
The IBM/Microsoft Interoperability session, covered by Madan Divaker and Dave Brault was jammed pack with the latest information about how to use LANSA in the world of Microsoft .NET. With the expansion/opening of the LANSA Repository developers can build secure and reliable solutions that transact across both platforms. Based on feedback, we may break this into two sessions next time around – a beginner’s overview and then advanced topics.
Two Project Management soft skills sessions were offered: Agile PM/best practices and Using ROI to get your projects approved. While we expected these sessions to be of interest, we had not prepared for just how popular they were at the event. Based on the evaluations, Steve Collins impressed the audience with his extensive PM experience and comprehensive coverage of the material. The popularity of these sessions may also be a result of organizations in the current economic climate needing to practice more formal PM and project justification activities. Some customer comments out of these sessions are below:
- “Very important topic that is difficult to compress into allotted time – excellent intro to complex mechanism”
- “Glad you had options (ROI and PM) for managers not in technical positions”
- “Probably the most important topic/issue facing IT organizations today”
- “This gave me ideas which I can use. It also makes me very interested in LANSA Services. Great job” (I liked this one!)
We also had an Ask the Expert room set up with tables staffed by IBM, LANSA Support, LANSA Services and eLearning experts. By late afternoon, the room became quite busy with customers wanting to brainstorm on various LANSA solutions and upgrading their software.
Over lunch on Tuesday afternoon, Customer Awards were presented. Congratulations to John Wiley and Sons for winning “Lifetime Achievement Award” and to Robinson Manufacturing for winning “Customer of the Year”. Raffle prizes were awarded to Elena from Greenville County (Dell Mini Notebook) and Ronni from Investment Systems ($10K certificate for LANSA software).
Based on the feedback from our surveys, some of the attendees were happy to have a one day event with the current economy whereas others would like us to return to the longer conference format of the past. Certainly everyone agreed that there was a lot of good content and opportunity for learning and networking. We want to share this rich material with more LANSA customers so we are considering ‘going on the road’ with this show to a region near you.
Let us know if you’re interested in attending a regional event or have any other ideas as to how we can improve our communication with you…