IBMs lotus software division plans to bring its messaging and collaboration platforms, the legacy Domino offering and emerging Workplace suite, into feature parity by 2005 in anticipation of merging them.
The move means that the parallel development tracks Lotus officials laid out about a year and a half ago will eventually merge into one, although Lotus officials are noncommittal as to when this convergence will occur. Current Lotus Notes and Domino customers that continue regular upgrades will eventually become Workplace customers, said officials at Lotus headquarters here.
Workplace, a Java-based, componentized product, is built on existing IBM technologies, such as WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Portal and the DB2 database, and includes development and management technologies from IBMs Rational and Tivoli product lines.
Lotus is readying several Work- place enhancements that match what the company released in Notes 6.5 and Domino 6.5 last month. For instance, later this quarter, Lotus plans to add support for WebSphere Portal Version 5 as well as personal calendaring and personal information management. By next year, Workplace will gain support for a rich client, according to Ken Bisconti, Lotus vice president of messaging products.
Early next year, Lotus will add instant messaging to Workplace, but matching the group calendaring, scheduling and workflow capabilities in Domino will take longer, Bisconti said.
Eventually, Workplace will support access from several clients, including the existing Notes client, a Web browser, a Java client based on the open-source Eclipse technologies, a mobile client and Microsoft Office applications.
"Notes doesnt go away," said Bisconti. "People will continue to use the Notes client like they always have. Domino doesnt go away, either. It becomes more of a component of Workplace."
As for Domino, all upgrades are preparing customers for the Workplace world. For example, Domino 7, due next year, will allow customers to use DB2 as Dominos back-end file system.
"I dont think [Domino and Workplace will] ever truly be one and the same," said Bruce Elgort, who uses Notes and Domino 6.5. "I think Workplace will be one of those technologies you put into place and slowly migrate to."
But Elgort, manager of information services at Sharp Microelectronics of the Americas, in Camas, Wash., said moving Domino into the Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition world will be a good thing because it will let J2EE developers access Domino services.