IBMs Lotus Software division, under the direction of its newest general manager, is moving to open up its platforms in an effort to make the companys collaboration technologies more attractive to developers who rely on open Internet standards.
As part of that effort, Lotus is expanding the output capabilities of the development tools in its flagship Domino platform, while extending those tools to a new class of users.
“Youre going to see a major focus on developers,” said Lotus General Manager Ambuj Goyal (pictured), a longtime IBM developer and executive, in an interview at Lotus headquarters here last week. “Not the J2EE [Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition] or the C++ kind but developers who are writing applications without knowing computer science.”
The first fruits of the effort will come next month when Lotus releases a new Java-based Workplace development platform and the first application to run on it, Workplace Messaging. Future Workplace applications for instant messaging, document management and portals will follow throughout the year and into next year, according to Goyal.
Further out, the component model that Workplace will support will be made part of Domino by Version 7, Goyal said. However, he said, no timetable has been set for that release.
On the interoperability front, the next major release of Domino, Version 6.5, will include Domino Toolkit for WebSphere Studio. The tool kit, due in the second half of this year, is built on the Eclipse open-source platform and will enable Domino developers to build Java-based WebSphere applications from within the Domino environment.
Much of Lotus ease-of-use initiative for Domino focuses on Project Seoul, which will allow developers to work within Domino Designer but output code as reusable Java components that can embed collaboration and messaging in other applications.
One application area that Lotus sees as ideal for embedding these components is CRM (customer relationship management). To that end, the company is encouraging more third-party developers to build applications on Domino and Workplace.
“As customers think about business transformation and processes, the part theyre most focused on is how to automate business processes associated with people to make them more productive,” Goyal said.
Scott Paschall, director of project management at a Denver-based company, has seen the benefits of tying CRM to the Lotus platform. Paschalls company, which he asked not to identify, uses Relavis Corp.s eSales CRM software with Lotus Notes, Domino, Sametime and QuickPlace.
The replication capabilities that Relavis eSales leverages from Domino enable customer information to be shared among sales, marketing and service departments, Paschall said.
“It isnt good customer service if a field sales rep goes to a customer site totally unaware of a problem the customers been having,” said Paschall. “This way, the reps aware of the problem and can tell the customer when the problem will be resolved.”
Some observers hailed Goyals appointment in January to lead Lotus as a victory for Lotus developers, given Goyals extensive history leading development teams at IBMs T.J. Watson Research Center.
Dave Taylor, a Domino developer and senior systems analyst at T. Rowe Price Inc., in Baltimore, said he hopes Goyal will see the merits of existing Lotus technologies. “Im generally optimistic about what Dr. Goyal brings to the table,” Taylor said. “He has an impressive track record, and Im hoping we see a greater emphasis on Dominos capabilities.”
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