Lotus Domino, IBM WebSphere Integration Tightened

Mobile access and integration of Lotus Domino and IBM WebSphere were highlighted at the Lotusphere 2000 conference, with Lotus Development Corp. also looking to provide links between its Notes platform and Microsoft's surging Outlook Exchange platform.

At the Orlando, Fla., event last week, Lotus made two additions to the Notes Client family: Mobile Notes and iNotes, both of which focus on mobile users.

Mobile Notes will leverage Mobile Services for Domino to give handheld device and smartphone users access to Domino applications. Handheld device users will be able to synchronize via Extensible Markup Language (XML), eliminating the need for a Notes client. Lotus will use Wireless Markup Language to provide a graphical user interface.

"This is basic, built-in XML and WAP support so we can port to many, many different devices without having to deal with a lot of different office systems," said Bob Ingram, product manager at Lotus.

Mobile Notes ships this winter for $20.

iNotes will give browser users offline access to Domino applications via Domino

Off Line Services (DOLS), which creates a driver to run Domino applications while disconnected from the network.

The product also contains Access for Microsoft Outlook, giving Outlook users access to Domino infrastructure for collaboration and increased mobility.

One Notes user, who requested anonymity, found the Lotus-Microsoft link peculiar.

"I'm wondering if it's more of a 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em' strategy, especially since Exchange is catching up to Notes [in market share]," the user said.

When it ships this winter, iNotes will incorporate DOLS; Access for Outlook will be available during the first half of 2000.

Lotus and IBM also face the task of merging the Domino and WebSphere server platforms to meet emerging technical and business requirements. Although the application server functions of the two platforms overlap slightly and will likely continue to do so, IBM and Lotus are evolving to a more integrated programming model and relying on WebSphere to bind collaborative and transactional applications.

Some analysts questioned how IBM will tie Notes/Domino to WebSphere and other servers using a consistent directory strategy.

"I think they recognize that it is important for Domino to integrate through its directory, but they haven't made up their minds yet as to how to do it, " said Dana Gardner, research director for Internet Infrastructure at the Aberdeen Group, in Boston.

The Domino server platform later this year will gain additional WebSphere Java capabilities, such as the ability to call Enterprise JavaBeans components from servlets and agents.

Lotus also demonstrated a pre-beta version of QuickPlace 2.0, its virtual meeting space and project management software, featuring better integration with desktop productivity software.

Sametime, Lotus' instant-messaging offering, will be integrated with Notes 5.0.2, the Raven knowledge management suite and Lotus' distributed learning product, LearningSpace. Lotus officials at the conference said Raven will ship this summer.

Lotus Development Corp., in Cambridge, Mass., is at www.lotus.com.

Other Lotus news

* The sale of Lotus cc:Mail will end Oct. 31, 2000, with support expected to end Jan. 31, 2001.

* The next major release of Lotus Domino will partition services to boost performance.

* A three-tier pricing structure will appear by March that will feature the bundling of related products. The plan is intended to simplify pricing.

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