I am just returning from the IBM Analyst Insight in Buchrest and like to share a first impression on Lotus Greenhouse.

This time, the outstanding professional event and analyst relations team of IBM took a special experiment. Instead of handouts or an USB stick they provided a Greenhouse account to everybody having the presentations stored on a collaboration space ready for download. Greenhouse is IBM’s cloud-hosted competitor to Miscosoft’s Sharepoint. Closely integrated to Lotus and Sametime, it provided multiple collaboration features. Here are my first steps with this new technology along two days of the conference:

  • Monday Night
    Arriving at the hotel, realizing that I can (have to) download the presentations. Went to the provided link https://greenhouse.lotus.com and got the message “Document not found”.
  • Tuesday Morning
    Asked the friendly and helpful IBM on-site staff. I have to get an account, email with account activation send again. (I am sure this was the same I had before) Click on it, “document not found”. This wasn’t a document, it was a activation link. Anyway.
  • Tuesday Noon
    The Greenhouse admin in US waked up, there was a severe power outage and Greenhouse seemed to be down for this reason. The strange think was, that I was able to reach the server all time, only the answer was confusing “Document not found”. Now greenhouse says at lease “Sorry, it’s not you, it’s a problem that we are about to fix…”
  • Tuesday Afternoon
    Following the really interesting presentations and one:one sessions. The one about cloud computing was really funny, IBM claiming the enterprise level they provide to the cloud. I understand that Greenhouse with it’s public access was still an experiment and I like new technology…
  • Wednesday Morning
    Yeah! I was able to activate my Greenhouse Account. I asked some of the other analysts on the event, most have given it up already…
    There was a name of the collaboration room given. I searched 15 minutes all possible links and locations on my Greenhouse access. The room with the presentations of the past and following day wasn’t available to me. I emailed the friendly IBM staff again, asking for the room access or a direct link to the room… a little bit tired already.
  • Wednesday Noon
    The friendly person told me that she has to link access to my account after it was activated. Greenhouse cannot grant access to existing but not yet activated users.
  • Wednesday At the End of the Event
    Wow, I finally have the Greenhouse Page with all the presentations in front of me. I can download one after the other. But there was no way to download all files of one folder in one step. I am wondering if it isn’t a very common use case that somebody wants to download all 25 files of a folder to read it later offline on the laptop. Missing Sahrepoint’s Webdav internet file access.
  • Wednesday at Lunch
    Greenhouse told me with a flashing bar in my Firefox 3 browser, that a plugin is missing to operate completely. Great, I thought this plugin will provide me with drag’n Drop functionality similar to Sharepoint of multiple files. I am alway frustated with Sahrepoint which does this only for IE and not for Firefox. Installed the plugin dm2 on Firefox. STOP it was not compatible with Firefox 3. It actually wasn’t saying which browser it was for?
  • Wednesday on my way to the airport
    Always on with UMTS, I installed the plugin on internet explorer. Great, worked after restarting all browser windows (unfortunately the installation procedure didn’t tell me to do this, but as I said I like new technology, the second installation finally worked on IE) Figured out that the plugin provides drag’n drop functionality for the upload of files, not for the download of files. Closed IE again and took my flight back to Germany.
  • Thursday Morning
    Coming back to the office, opened Firefox. It still prompts me to install a plugin which is not available for firefox. Ok Firefox did not follow my experient with IE. Downloading one presentation after the other. Happy!
    I have already seen some hours before in Greenhouse, that there was a blog available in this collaboration room. Wanted to write a blog immediately and thank the IBM team and executives for the great event (no kidding, it was really excellent insight). I was a little bit frustated as I realized that there was no way blog a new comment. Maybe my permissions are too week again. But Greenhouse didn’t tell me. Ok, but let’s get at least an RSS alert if somebody else blogs something. Clicked on the RSS subscription URL like it worked on every other blog. Import into Outlook’s RSS reader failed didn’t worked. Maybe nobody tested before to subscripe to an still empty blog? Gave up to follow discussions in this room.

… Finally I had no other chance to blog this experience somewhere else and used my private and public blog. I am still happy that we have a commercial alternative to Sharepoint. There is also the open source alternative Alfresco. Let’s see which one comes close to real user experience first.