IBMs Lotus Software division will unveil two initiatives at its Lotusphere conference next week that enable developers to embed Domino components as Web services in other applications.
Lotus Contextual Collaboration initiative will integrate Domino and WebSphere development environments, according to sources close to the Cambridge, Mass., company.
The first initiative, code-named Project Montreal, will add Domino classes to IBMs WSAD (WebSphere Studio Application Developer) tool kit, which is based on the Eclipse 2 open-source Java integrated development environment. This will allow non-Domino developers to create collaborative applications as Web services. It will also provide integration between WebSphere and Domino applications while allowing WebSphere developers to remain in the coding environment theyre familiar with.
The second, and thought to be the more ambitious, initiative is code-named Project Seoul. It will allow Domino developers to work within the Domino development environment but output code as Java 2 Enterprise Edition components, which can be embedded in other non-Domino J2EE-based applications.
"Both sound like theyre probably sensible steps for Lotus to take along the way to their goal of building contextual collaboration on top of their existing Domino technology," said Richard Schwartz, a Domino developer and president of RHS Consulting Inc., in Nashua, N.H.
Past linkages between Domino and WebSphere have stoked fears among Domino developers that IBM was abandoning the product, in particular the Notes client, for a WebSphere-centric world. Those fears are largely overblown, according to Andrew Pollack, a Domino developer and president of Northern Collaborative Technologies Inc., an IBM and Lotus business partner in Cumberland, Maine.
"I think IBM is looking years down the road with these steps and looking to make sure they keep a large market share well into this and the next decade," said Pollack.
"One thing for all IT managers and developers to keep in mind is that Lotus kept supporting cc:Mail for 10 years after Notes was clearly their flagship and that IBM continued to fully support OS/2 Warp for years after it was mostly abandoned in the marketplace because they had key customers still using it," Pollack said.
DOMINO IN CONTEXT New development initiatives bring Lotus deeper into the IBM fold
Pollack said that, unlike OS/2, Domino, including the Notes client, is in use at a majority of Fortune 500 companies, making it unlikely and impractical for IBM to drop it.
"If IBM or Lotus had a history of doing business the way Microsoft [Corp.] does, Id be scared," Pollack said, "like with [Microsoft] Exchange, where you cant go to the new version unless you upgrade to Active Directory, which means all new servers and licensing and major migration efforts and cost. IBM and Lotus do not have any history of forcing users to upgrade."
Lotus officials declined to comment on the initiatives specifics but did acknowledge that Montreal and Seoul are internal code names for product announcements the division will make at Lotusphere, in Orlando, Fla., related to integrating the Domino development environment with WebSphere and Java.
Officials said most, but not all, products announced at Lotusphere will be delivered during the calendar year.