The OH Summit 2018 in Berlin – Bridging the Old and the New

Posted on Jun 12, 2018 in Collaboration, Conferences, Micro Focus, Open Horizons EMEA Summit

Bildquelle: Thomas Wolf, www.foto-tw.de / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The Open Horizons Summit 2018 took place as the Micro Focus Channel Community Conference from June 4-7, 2018 in Berlin, in the Marriott and Ritz Carlton Hotels at Potsdamer Platz, right next to the Brandenburger Tor. It was a very interesting event with many facets and impressions, and we want to use this post to give you a review of the event from the perspective of Code and Concept for all who could not participate, who chose not to participate, or those attendees who are wondering if there was something they missed. We’ll start with general thoughts, and then cover Hotlabs, sessions, and last but not least our favourite topic: Micro Focus Vibe.

Much has changed

This year, the OH Summit moved its location from Budapest to Berlin. On top of that, the Summit got a subtitle, a new main target group and a new supporting organisation. The OH Summit is now subtitled as “Micro Focus Channel Community Conference” and targets mainly channel partners as a complement to the “Micro Focus Universe” event for customers that took place in Monaco in March. Customers continue to be welcome at the Summit, and a large number followed the invitation. The main sponsor of the event is now Micro Focus, and contrary to previous years, other sponsors were not present anymore.

This time, the Tech Lounge was not filled with offerings and information from co3tools, engl, FairCom, GroupLink, MTRIX, NEXPERT, ROVABU, SEP, SkyPRO, SUSE und TDP, but with booths representing the various business areas and units of the new Micro Focus, now grown by the HP Enterprise Software business. However, with 300+ products in the portfolio of Micro Focus, there was more content available than one could reasonably consume in the time given. Probably due to the changes mentioned, the delegate count has doubled compared to 2017, and now reached around 460. The Micro Focus organisation underwent a lot of changes over the recent years, and as the prime European event around Micro Focus, the Open Horizons Summit also evolves.

Right along the theme of the Micro Focus motto, the OH Summit 2018 also was in the process of “bridging the old and the new”. The new organisation behind the products that delegates have gotten used to and hold dear did not only introduce and present itself, it also exposed itself knowingly to the close-knit community of disciples of the products from the “heritage Micro Focus”-, “heritage Attachmate Group”- and “heritage Novell”-portfolio. The attendees from these groups explored the newly extended software ecosystem and not only exposed themselves to the new organisation, but also faced up to a new way of working and of interacting with customers and partners. Those delegates want to rest assured that their core products are there to stay and are being developed further. Micro Focus is now in the possession of software that represents an integral part of the infrastructure and working processes in enterprises and organisations, and of software that has been maintained together with partners in a very productive ecosystem for many years – Micro Focus might just be selling software, but together with the partners, Micro Focus, by association, provides premium solutions in many fields. Naturally, the attendees do hope to keep the appreciation given and the esteem in which they traditionally are held as knowledge holders and as “front line fighters”, and that the value of the community is being recognised, used and expanded upon by Micro Focus.

Having the situation just described as a backdrop, it is not a surprise that the keynote presentations were not regarded with favour by the people from the tight community and amongst the attendees of many an OH Summit in the past. They were lacking a consistent overview of solutions, products and roadmaps, the keynotes had not actually been adapted to the needs and interests of the delegates. The presentations were kept very generic and broad and in essence conveyed how many products have been assembled under the roof of the Micro Focus brand. – Those who were mainly interested in traditional OH Summit focus, being the products of the former Novell and NetIQ brands, had to keep their patience until the award dinner to soothe their appetites. The total absence of the SUSE business unit was also registered by delegates and critically commented upon. The mood was lifted when, towards the end of the keynote day, two very special partner awards were presented to well-known people: one was presented to the OH organisation – represented here by Marco Mikulits, Diethmar Rimser, Paul Van der Cruyssen and John Ellis – and the second award – the only one of the event going to a single person – was presented to Robin Redgrave, a pillar of the community and a representation of the valuable link between the company and the community.

From Tuesday on, the further course of the Summit was characterized by Hotlabs, Business Sessions, Mixed Sessions, Focus Groups and Customer Advisory Boards. The delegate count and the number of presentations led to the conference being split into two locations. Occasionally, it was not easy to run into each other “as a coincidence”, except of course during the breaks that were marked by the usual enjoyable food and drink in copious amounts.

The traditional OH Summit quiz night could not take place because of space limitations, and was sorely missed. In its place, there was a community meet-up at c-base, an event location with a real hacker background and a good reputation especially among IT folks. Here, the delegates had the time and opportunity to talk without the pressure of the event schedule. Pictures taken at recent Summits were displaced on a big screen in a continuous loop, and nostalgia was guaranteed to arise, given this emotional ‘bridging the old and the new’.

Hotlabs – a tried and tested model

The Hotlabs held during the event were well attended. The largest rush was witnessed towards the products and services around OES and Filr, for products from the business area of Information Management and Governance (IM&G), that had shown great advancements and development efforts in recent times and that shine with many new features. These Hotlabs were followed closely by a large, homogenous palette of solutions from all business areas of Micro Focus, so apart from IM&G also from the areas of Security, Application Delivery Management (ADM) and IT Operations Management (ITOM). In that group, much interest was given to products from the former HP Enterprise Software that are new and interesting to OH Summit-veterans, like e.g. ArcSight. The midfield of attendance rates was then covered by Hotlabs on topics mainly from collaboration and from the segment of “Best Practice”.

Our own Hotlab – of course on Vibe – was visited by thirty delegates, eighteen of which were partners, who either want to start using Vibe in house or with customers, or who receive increasing amounts of requests for Vibe from customers. The other participants were customers, who wanted to deepen their knowledge about Vibe or wanted to get into first contact with the topic.
A short introductory round showed, amazingly, that in the lab room were 500 years of cumulated experience with products from Novell or Micro Focus, even though there were a noticeable number of fresh faces. During this lab, we found – even though concrete knowledge about the ins and outs of NetWare and IPX may not be applicable anymore, today – that experience with powerful, well structured and secure systems is not to be underestimated as an advantage when working on a highly current topic like online collaboration.

The concept of the OH Hotlabs has worked well and proven itself once more, and again, Rob Bastiaansen and his crew did a great job providing the hardware, setting up the labs and rooms, and supporting the speakers wherever they could.

The Sessions – Don’t lose track

Apart from the Hotlabs, over 50 sessions not only covered the whole spectrum of areas where Micro Focus is active, but also sorted themselves in categories according to aim and target group, those categories being “Focus Group”, targeted at partners, “Business Session” covering strategic topics and presentations, “General/Mixed Session” providing a spectrum of information ranging from deep dives to roadmap&future presentations, and the Customer Advisory Boards on topics from the areas of OES/Filr and Collaboration. The Advisory Boards on Thursday were created and introduced on late Wednesday by the very flexible and agile organisation team due to large demand.

With such a variety of session types and topics, it can sometimes become difficult to keep track of target groups, and because of that, there was a higher level of target group-intermingling in the sessions than was originally intended. This led to occasional bookings of 100% and more per session, but also facilitated discussions and constructive discourse.

The focus of Code and Concept traditionally lies with the products of the IM&G group of Micro Focus, even though we are more active in the Security business area now with our Live Phishing Trainings. Both of our areas were generously covered by a large number of sessions, and in the IM&G track, there were sessions that got a “repeat” timeslot due to high demand and full waiting lists.

Enterprise Messaging

A Micro Focus offering that we found to be very interesting at the conference was the Micro Focus Enterprise Messaging Suite. This recently made-available suite of products is composed of a number of products centred around the most recent version of the rock-solid, but modern GroupWare, Micro Focus GroupWise 18, on which there is already some news to report all by itself. Over a number of years and versions, especially the GroupWise client was enhanced with a host of modern, innovative features, but due to requests by enterprise customers’ IT departments, these features were all turned off by default to prevent high support call volumes and training efforts due to new features. In GroupWise 18, the whole host of features is now enabled by default, and the result is a completely new experience for the end user, modern and powerful  Of course there is a “take me back!” button for users who like to stay with the user experience that has been stable and virtually unchanged since GroupWise 6.5 , either because they see it as more efficient in daily work, or because they have grown to like or love it.

In the Enterprise Messaging Suite, the GroupWise-System is being complemented by the refreshed and integrated version of the Messenger system for instant messaging, by TeamWorks for users of the fashionable “persistent group chat” paradigm, and by the full suite of products that was taken in with the acquisition of GWAVA last year, delivering virus protection, spam protection, archiving, desaster recovery and much more. The whole suite is of course offered as a product, but is also available – at a from our perspective very attractive price point – as an upgrade license for existing customers who are licensed on GroupWise, on the Open Workgroup Suite or even on the Open Workgroup Suite (Small Business Edition).

Security

In the Security business area, we of course concentrated on the currently still very hot topics all around the GDPR. However, we also had great conversations and exchanges all around our still new service „Live Phishing Training“ and our other offerings around the demand for „strengthening the human firewall“.

So how is Vibe doing?

After the merger with Micro Focus, so following the time under the Attachmate Group and in the Micro Focus Vibe calendar “about since version 4.0”, there have been worried faces, especially in the German-speaking areas, expressing fear that Vibe as product may not be actively maintained and advanced by the vendor, Micro Focus. Mainly, this seems to have its root in a lack of information about news and changes in recent product updates as well as in the lowered cadence of Vibe releases.

We ourselves have never seen these fears as having any substantiation. However, the rather frequent restructuring from Novell via Attachmate to Micro Focus and now the new Micro Focus were accompanied by friction loss and transaction costs, which led to a temporary weakening of the presentation of the product and the company.

On Wednesday night, there was a long meeting of Vibe partners with the key people responsible for Vibe from Micro Focus product management and engineering, which ended with positive results, without exception. The product and marketing image of Vibe is designated to be improved, according to the express intention of the product management (Mike Bills) and engineering (Kevin Crutchfield) and the development of Vibe is intended to pick up visible pace. The conversations between Micro Focus and the Vibe partners from Germany, Denmark, Austria and Belgium have led to a mutual understanding and to a perceived closing of ranks in favour of Vibe.

The Vibe roadmap, as it had been shown in the collaboration sessions, has been refreshed, and it is well visible that for version 4.0.5, which is slated for late 2018, a number of changes will be implemented which stem from a statement made by Oracle regarding the abandoning of Java on the client machine (leading to the discontinuation of Java Web Start as well as charging for JRE8 support after January 2019, see Oracles statement here). These changes include the removal of all the remaining applet code from the product, a complete overhaul of the code to make it compatible and run with OpenJDK (the official choice made by the Micro Focus organisation), a full replacement for the Vibe workflow viewer control, and the replacement of the Stellent Outside In Technology with KeyView, a Micro Focus product.. These big work packages build upon the massive rework efforts having taken place under the hood of Vibe for version 4.0.4, to refresh and update the backend scheduling package as well as other third party libraries to keep the software architecture up to date, including the efforts to ensure stable operation with the new versions.

After the completion of these projects, resources will be available to implement changes that visibly and notably improve the product and its features. It is clear to everyone involved that Micro Focus Vibe is not just a product, but first and foremost a framework that can be used – without coding, and by the customer – to implement applications for an innumerable number of use cases. One only has to understand how to use Vibe, or have support from a “trusted partner” who lends help with thoughts and deeds. All participants of Wednesday’s meeting have taken with them the feeling of certainty that the voices of partners and customers will be more closely listened to in the future – an important ingredient of the recipe for the success of Vibe before the mergers. Things are looking up.

As always: if you have any questions regarding Vibe, or want to make your life easier and better with Vibe: contact us!