Lotus Deepens Ties to IBM's WebSphere

SAN FRANCISCO (06/26/2000) - Lotus Development Corp. last week used its annual developer's conference to bolster plans to become the collaboration piston in IBM Corp.'s e-commerce engine.

The Big Blue subsidiary is trying to push its know-how outside corporate firewalls into what it calls collaborative commerce, a sort of online customer service where buyers and sellers can interact before a purchase is completed.

The strategy is designed to complement IBM's transaction engine by adding a human element to the robotic point-clickpurchase procedures of e-business.

To achieve this goal, Lotus said in September it will ship a combination of Domino R5 and IBM's WebSphere Advanced Edition as a platform for hosting Web-based collaboration and transactions. WebSphere is a Java application server that allows transactions to be managed using Enterprise JavaBeans.

Java is one of the ways IBM is interconnecting its software portfolio into a broad base to support e-commerce.

"We are aware that we can't do the big jobs, the transaction things, in Notes," says Paul Cottier, consulting analyst with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. "We are hoping that WebSphere becomes our standard platform for commerce applications, but we want to continue to be able to deploy quick Notes applications. We hope they can integrate these products successfully."

The intent is to combine the two products while still allowing customers to run each server as a stand-alone product.

Later in the year, Lotus and IBM plan to complete the integration of Domino and WebSphere to include directory services, security and common Object Request Brokers. Domino R5 already ships with the standard version of WebSphere, which integrates Java Servlets between the two platforms.

"The real key is marrying WebSphere transactions to Domino collaboration to form the underpinnings of collaborative commerce," says Bart Lautenbach, director of Web applications for Lotus. He says the collaboration Lotus can provide will help establish trust between buyers and sellers in online marketplaces.

While Domino and WebSphere are the hub of the strategy, Lotus is adding other collaboration features to help build that trust. Last week, Lotus previewed real-time audio and video capabilities for its instant messaging server SameTime 2.0, which is expected to ship this fall. The intent is to create face-to-face Web-based customer service. Last week, Lotus shipped QuickPlace 2.0, which allows buyers and sellers to create virtual negotiation rooms supported by Domino workflow.

Lotus will also provide tools for developers, including an XML Tool Kit for Domino. Developers will build applications that could import and export XML to present Domino to outside systems, especially for cross-platform workflow. The tool kit will ship this fall and an evaluation copy was made available last week on the Lotus Web site. Later this month, Lotus will add to Domino support for MacroMedia's Dreamweaver Web-development tool. Lotus also will release Domino Design Components for Dreamweaver that allow Domino views to be added to a Web page.

Lotus did not reveal pricing for any of its upcoming products.

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