Lotus and its parent company IBM next week plan to announce the integration of Lotus' Notes and Domino collaboration software, with IBM's WebSphere Internet infrastructure software. The announcement will come at Lotus' DevCon conference in Las Vegas.
This is the first step in a series of moves to connect IBM subsidiary products across platforms through WebSphere. The developments are similar to what Microsoft is planning with its HailStorm initiative, though Microsoft's offerings are potentially years away.
"All products need to agree on a common layer of services for connection," said Art Fontaine, senior product marketing manager for e-business applications at Lotus. "In a model like WebSphere services, a layer of connectivity is on top of software, not re-engineering it, not compromising it."
This announcement will describe the link between Domino, Lotus' collaborative technology, and WebSphere and from them to other applications and databases. Links to other subsidiaries, such as Tivoli Systems; IBM's distributed management environment; and their products will follow, Fontaine said. The connection is built on XML and uses Simplified Object Access Protocol to send commands to the system.
"This is exactly what .Net is," he said, referring Microsoft's ambitious plan of software services that live on the Web.
WebSphere will sit on the back end for server-to-server communication and can be added to any software in the enterprise to connect with applications inside and outside the firewall, Fontaine said.
The announcement is a sign, along with heavy support of Linux operating systems, that IBM and Lotus are staving off Microsoft's promise to offer the entire enterprise IT system through one vendor, said Robert Mahowald, an analyst at International Data Corp.
"I'll be surprised if it's not going to be Microsoft's strategy to say the hell with whatever collaboration application you have, it has to connect to [Microsoft's] Active Directory in the operating system," he said.
One way to create the link is to build all products based on the Lotus Directory, and that's what IBM appears to be doing, said Mahowald.