IBMs Lotus Software division, under pressure by customers to clarify its product road map for Domino, announced plans Wednesday at IBMs DeveloperWorks Live show in San Francisco to continue to support and enhance the existing collaboration platform while offering separate paths for customers who wish to embrace Java, Web services and other IBM technologies.
The announcement, made by Lotus Vice President of Worldwide Development and Support Jeanette Horan during her keynote address at the show Wednesday, is the clearest signal Lotus has given yet that Domino will continue to be supported and enhanced rather than replaced structurally by other IBM technologies like WebSphere and DB2, and that no Lotus customers will be forced off Domino.
Horan laid out a product road map in which a "next gen" architecture for Domino, built on J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition), would be in place by the middle of next year. Yet that is just one lane of the road that customers can take, she explained. They can also choose to stay with Domino as it is now, with Lotus delivering a new version about 18 months after the planned release this summer of Domino 6.
Developers will also be able continue to develop in Domino, while adding integration with WebSphere and developing applications as Web services, Horan explained.
The road map would also allow for developers of J2EE and WebSphere applications to add Domino capabilities, she said.
"If you are a Domino developer, you can give your applications more reach by pushing a little to the left on the highway," said Horan. "And if you are a J2EE developer you can pull in collaborative capabilities from the right. And if youre working in WebSphere Studio, you can get some [Domino] Designer-like rapid application development capabilities."
Lotus General Manager Al Zollar in his keynote tried to sell developers on the so-called "next generation" J2EE platform, talking up the collaborative capabilities that the new platform would allow Lotus to deliver and stressed that such a platform would still offer rapid application development that Domino Designer now provides Domino developers.
The new J2EE platform would allow Lotus to deliver Domino applications as Web services, so that Domino capabilities like workflow, virtual teamroom, virtual classroom, online awareness, scheduling, messaging, e-meetings and expertise location could be "unleashed" from Domino and put into other applications, Zollar said.
"You can use [collaboration] capabilities wherever you need them, wherever they add value," he said.
Horan said some of those capabilities, such as Lotus Sametime services embedded in the forthcoming version of the IBM WebSphere Portal Server, will be available as early as this summer.
"By the time we get to tomorrow, it wont matter whether youre working in Domino, WebSphere or even Microsoft .Net," said Horan. "Youll just reach over to a folder and drag and drop collaborative capabilities like a virtual meeting or calendaring and scheduling into an application."
Horan said Lotus will provide developers with a "decision tree" to help them decide when to use Domino and when to use WebSphere to develop an application.
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