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IBM is expected to launch a major new release of its flagship Lotus Notes and Domino messaging and collaboration platform at its Lotusphere conference next week. The release strengthens the ties between Domino and the next-generation Workplace platform.

Workplace has been the focus of the last three Lotusphere events, but the big news next week will be the release of Notes and Domino 7, the first new-version release of the platform since October 2002.

Richard Schwartz, president of IBM business partner RHS Consulting Inc. and a Domino developer, said this Lotusphere will be the most important event for IBM’s Lotus Software division since Lotus—when it was an independent company—debuted Notes 4 at the show 10 years ago. “That was the moment when everyone took notice of Notes as a serious contender at the enterprise level for collaboration,” said Schwartz in Nashua, N.H. “But then the IBM acquisition happened, and not too long after that, it became apparent that parts of IBM had some serious misconceptions about Notes and Domino’s capability to keep up with industry trends.

“Notes and Domino grew phenomenally, but IBM almost seemed to be in denial of it. At this year’s conference, we’re going to see IBM come to terms with the fact that they underestimated the strengths of Notes and Domino,” Schwartz said.

Click here to read about development tools for Workplace.

Notes and Domino 7 will feature deeper ties with Workplace. Chief among the new features in this version, which is expected to be released next quarter, is support for the DB2 relational data store, which will be another data storage option for Domino alongside the existing NSF (Notes Storage Facility) data store.

The update will provide Domino with an integrated data store for structured and unstructured data as well as a shared data store with Workplace, which was built from the beginning with DB2 as its data store.

On the client side, Notes applications in this release will be able to run within the Workplace client as Eclipse plug-ins, marking the beginning of a client integration that’s expected to continue to take shape in Notes Version 8, tentatively planned for sometime next year.

Customers that have already adopted Workplace will benefit from the tighter ties as well. IBM is expected to announce the Workplace Designer development tool, a product developed by many of the same software engineers who worked on the Domino Designer rapid application development tool, at the show.

Previously, development tools for Workplace were limited to Workplace Builder, a more basic tool used by nontechnical business users to create simple applications based on templates.

“They’re going to show us that their new Workplace technology is getting better and more complete, but they’re going to be very clear about the fact that Workplace builds on and complements the strengths of Notes and Domino, and that they’re going to be committed to both for a long time to come,” Schwartz said.

Click here to read a December 2003 interview with Lotus General Manager Ambuj Goyal.

Besides Domino’s re-emergence, Java and wireless capabilities are expected to be hot topics at the conference.

Although IBM officials were not available to comment, previously announced plans called for Domino 7 services to be exposed as Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition components and for Domino to serve as a Web services host for J2EE-based applications.

Lining up Domino
New in Version 7

  • Support for DB2 as data store
  • Surfacing of Notes applications within Workplace as Eclipse plug-in
  • Domino services available as J2EE components
  • Domino as Web services host for J2EE applications

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