Lotus to Unveil New Domino Products

Analysis of News Events
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After months of previews, IBM's Lotus division has hinted that it will formally announce the Windows NT versions of Domino 6.0, Sametime 3.0, and QuickPlace 3.0 on September 30. Several days later, the iSeries brand will unveil OS/400 versions of the same products. Though Lotus may not say much about it, the announcements represent the software maker's first steps toward some major architectural changes for the Domino product family.

For Domino customers, the new products will offer significant enhancements that should not only improve the user experience, but also reduce management and overhead costs. For instance, new tools will make it easier for administrators to remotely upgrade Notes clients and change user settings. Another feature will allow companies to host their entire Domino directory on a single server rather than replicate it across all servers, while streaming replication and network compression will significantly reduce replication times.

On the iSeries front, IBM will not only announce OS/400 versions of the new Domino products, but will also unveil a high-end Dedicated Server for Domino (DSD) based on the 32-processor Model i890. Unlike other DSDs, the i890 DSD will not be a distinct model, but will consist of two configurations that customers can order via RPQs. One RPQ (#847163) creates a 32-way server with appropriate memory and disk storage levels to support Notes clients, while the other RPQ (#847164) configures the i890 to support browser-based iNotes clients. According to my IBM sources, both RPQs will offer considerable hardware savings (read that to mean at least 10%) over standard i890s. This should make the i890 DSDs attractive to larger customers who want to consolidate their Domino servers.

The Bigger Picture

Over the next several weeks, I'm sure you will read many articles that examine the new Domino releases in depth. In this article, however, I want to give some perspective on Lotus' long-term product strategy. This will allow you to develop your own strategy for deploying new Domino products and developing to the Domino platform.

For Lotus, the upcoming announcements represent the opening moves for three substantial architectural changes that will take place over the next several years. The first change is the development of an open, standards-based method for accessing Domino databases and invoking Domino services. Domino 6.0 begins this change by offering developers the ability to invoke Java objects within Domino via XML-based JavaServer Page (JSP) tags. Through JSP tags, developers will gain an industry-standard method to access Domino data and services without having to know the underlying database formats or proprietary APIs.

The second change Lotus will make is to base a growing amount of Domino functionality on Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) Web application servers--particularly WebSphere Application Server (WAS). Most of the J2EE functions will be new rather than existing features, but Lotus also plans to rewrite some existing features and products as J2EE objects. Those functions that become J2EE objects will invoke native Domino functions from their application servers via the JSP tags discussed earlier. The following table shows which products will migrate to J2EE and which ones will remain native Domino functions.


Domino Functional Migration to J2EE

Products That Will Migrate to J2EE

Products That Will Stay on Domino

Lotus Sametime
- Enterprise Meeting Server
Lotus QuickPlace
Lotus LearningSpace
Lotus Discovery Server
Lotus Sametime
Lotus QuickPlace
Lotus Workflow

As you will note from the table, Sametime and QuickPlace appear in both columns. That's because some Sametime and QuickPlace features will run on J2EE application servers while others will remain native Domino functions. In Sametime and QuickPlace 3.0, all features remain on Domino except for Enterprise Meeting Server, a new J2EE facility that enables clustering and failover support for Sametime meetings. Future releases of these two products will include more J2EE functions.

Why is Lotus making these changes? So that it can achieve the third change: delivering Domino functions as modular collaboration objects that other applications can invoke as Web services. In the future that Lotus envisions, organizations will want collaboration and communication to become an inherent part of their core business processes and, by extension, of their enterprise applications. For instance, instead of starting a Web meeting about the third-quarter manufacturing schedule from a standalone application, the production manager would start it from the ERP system that contains the production data. Lotus intends to make Domino the preeminent platform for delivering such modular collaborative services to enterprise applications.

Of course, Lotus' product strategy has substantial implications for Domino users and developers. Unfortunately, I don't have space in this article to discuss them all, so you can expect me to return to this subject in a future column. In the meantime, I would encourage you to learn more about Domino 6 by checking out the Lotus Web site about the new version. You may also want to attend one of the Notes and Domino 6 road shows that Lotus is holding across North America over the next two months, or show up at COMMON on October 13, where Lotus will present many of the road show classes. Considering the big changes that Lotus has in store for its customers, you can never be too informed.

Lee Kroon is a Senior Industry Analyst for Andrews Consulting Group, a firm that helps mid-sized companies manage business transformation through technology. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..