Instant Insight

January 29, 2003





IBM Announces Next Generation Architecture for Lotus Notes:
Yet Another Step towards eBusiness on Demand

By Myles Suer

IBM announced this week its next generation architecture for Lotus Notes which creates a common framework between the Notes/Domino, WebSphere, DB2, and Tivoli platforms. In effect, IBM has announced several products under a common mantra; there were seven separate press releases. This new architecture separates Notes/Domino’s collaboration platform from the database and establishes a non-client based user interface. Key features include:

     A common presentation, administration and applications development, and shared infrastructure and service that is wrapped around an increased number of collaboration capabilities;

     A new email system based upon the middleware of the WebSphere and DB2 that supports Internet Standard Email protocols (SMTP, POP3, LDAP vs. 3, etc);

     An e-learning management system that provides tracking, measuring, and reporting of all forms of learning in an organization with a built-in authoring tool for cost content creation;

     A Lotus Domino Toolkit for WebSphere Studio that allows Domino Developers to develop with a modern Java IDE;

     New collaboration features including an integrated Lotus Web conferencing interface, “my team” workspaces, and PeopleFinder;

     Addition of Lotus SameTime Everyplace with MicroBrowser Support for WAP 2.0, iMode, SMS, J2ME, Pocket PC, and Palm Clients.



Products included with this announcement are: IBM's new email product which is scheduled to be available in Q2 2003, with pricing to be announced at availability; the Lotus Domino Toolkit for WebSphere Studio which will be included at no additional cost in a future version of Domino Designer 6; The Lotus Learning Management System available now through IBM's Lotus Passport Advantage distribution channel at $60 per user.



Washing away the trade names and marketing hype, IBM has stripped Lotus of its client/server heritage to expose Notes as a collaboration platform. The Notes platform competes with recently announced products from Oracle but uses the Notes base as a potential starting point. IBM has positioned this product for the larger market and placed this product in direct competition with Oracle and Microsoft.

At the same time, IBM moves beyond the limitations of Notes’ former data store as necessitated by the increasing browser-based delivery of custom enterprise applications and the need for these applications to migrate to a more rigorous database. The move also supports IBM’s overarching eBusiness on Demand strategy that utilizes a common, scalable framework. Since Lotus Notes lacked this type of scalability and it was often installed on a project-by-project basis, Notes could not easily share information across installed projects.

Now with the Notes Platform being integrated with WebSphere and using DB2 as its database, the equation has changed at a number of interesting levels. At the core, this announcement clarifies IBM’s position in the content management marketplace. Notes is positioned as the means by which content is created and content management the means by which content is published. This move should have a noticeable effect on content management companies such as Documentum and Filenet and collaboration companies including Intraspect. With a rigorous database, it becomes possible to centralize and share across the organization information created in Notes. As a case point, IBM has indicated that the user can now perform an enterprise-wide expertise search. Thus we would expect that IBM would look to add Tactic Knowledge-like tools that use centralized content to automate the creation of expertise profiles in the future.

We believe that the newfound openness of Notes through its accessibility from WebSphere should make Notes more compelling to ISVs as Notes becomes an effective tool to be used in sharing events created from ERP, SCM, and Data Center Management applications. At the same time, CRM applications may find it more effective to use the Notes Collaboration Engine for email and instant messaging connections with customers. In addition, customers will likely be receptive to decreased maintenance costs as the desktop client has been replaced by a browser-based client.

Overall, by updating the Notes database and client interface, IBM has demonstrated that its business-on-demand strategy applies to rationalizing its software product offering. This move brings the formerly monolithic and proprietary world of Notes into the standards-based world of the 21st century. It also addresses a long term need for scalability and information sharing across the organization and will in our opinion help propel Notes into an increasingly horizontal messaging and collaboration market. It remains to be seen how the competition will respond. Microsoft has yet to make its move in response to Oracle and IBM. What is clear is that centralization of content could help solve many of enterprise’s legal retention issues while addressing privacy and security issues — both of which require skill and care to be handled appropriately without discarding valuable enterprise content.



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