In case you were worrying, I did manage to return from Las Vegas, in relatively good physical and financial health! It's taken me a while to clear the backlog of work that accumulated while I was away though... I had a great time, attended lots of good sessions, and got to meet some great IBMers. I spent quite a bit of time looking at WebSphere Business Events, WebSphere Integration Developer, and WebSphere Business Modeler and got to meet quite a few of the fascinating guys and girls that define and develop the technology behind the scenes. I even had time to take in a session on how to call Java from a CICS transaction!
ILOG was well represented at the conference, with all the product lines present and very active; networking with customers and people across IBM. IBM is a very large and sometimes confusing community, but we were made to feel extremely welcome and I lost count of the number of sessions were ILOG's technology was mentioned. The IBM Smarter Planet initiative is a perfect fit for all three product lines: business rules for "smart" policy automation, optimization for building better plans and schedules, and visualization for getting a handle on all the historical and realtime data that is arriving from the plethora of sensors that a widely instrumented planet implies.
The live demo session I gave with Joel went very well. We crossed and clenched everything we had and took an internal Beta build of JRules 7 for a spin; building a application for an audience member "live on stage". The product performed flawlessly and I think the audience really appreciated a break from looking at PowerPoint, and I could see a few light bulbs going on as we moved through the demo. In 1 hour we developed a simple XSD, used it to verbalize a Business Object Model, then built an executable Decision Service and called it via a SOAP Web Service. Next we synchronized the project out to Rule Team Server and then had an audience member come up and write a Decision Table. We then hot-deployed the rules to show the modified Decision Service in action. Based on some questions from the audience we then synchronized the project in Rule Team Server into a MS Word RuleDoc and showed document-based rule authoring.
Exciting times to be an ILOGer, and soon to be IBMer!