26 January 2005 IBM has reassured its customers that their investment in its Lotus Notes and Domino products will be protected, despite plans to gradually integrate the software into the IBM Workplace platform.
The company is showcasing its emerging Workplace portfolio as an umbrella brand for all future collaboration products with an emphasis is on server-managed ‘rich clients’ that will enable convergence of text, audio and web platforms. Unlike Notes, Workplace is built on a service-oriented architecture.
But analysts such as Gartner believe that IBM has confused customers by offering the overlapping product families of Lotus Notes/Domino and Workplace. IBM will not abandon Lotus Notes/Domino customers, says Gartner’s Tom Austin, but in coming years he believes the vendor plans to use Workplace as the basis for a future version of Lotus Notes/Domino – possibly version 8 or 9. “The heretofore separate-but-equal development paths will disappear,” he says.
Speaking at the annual Lotusphere conference in Orlando, Ken Bisconti IBM vice president of Workplace, Portal and Collaborative Products, was quick to assure customers that they do not face an either/or choice. “Notes isn’t being replaced by IBM Workplace, it’s becoming part of IBM Workplace, and it’s here to stay,” he said.
At the event, IBM debuted version 7 of Notes and Domino. A key enhancement of the release allows customers to automatically convert applications into XML-based web services; another is a 70% improvement in server performance. Version 7 is due to ship in the Summer.
But the cornerstone of future collaborative tools is Workplace. At Lotusphere, Ambuj Goyal, IBM’s general manager of Workplace, Portal and Collaborative Software, emphasised the central part played by role-based collaboration in the technology.
“Workplace understands that your world is a composite of roles, and that these roles change and move with you,” said Goyal. “Our objective is to enable people to make better decisions faster,” he added.