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Users of IBM’s Lotus Notes and Domino Groupware can look forward to a host of new capabilities in Version 7 of the product, including integration with the fledgling Lotus Workplace collaboration software.

But licensing issues for Notes and Domino customers who seek to take advantage of these Workplace tie-ins remain unresolved.

Set for general availability in the second quarter of next year, Version 7 of the Notes client and Domino server has several new features, such as support for IBM’s DB2 database as a data store.

It will support sort by subject, a basic in-box functionality that Notes had disdained in favor of full-text indexing. The upgrade will feature integration of presence awareness with calendar and scheduling applications, interface enhancements, and multithreaded message views support, said Lotus officials at the IBM division’s headquarters here last week.

Scalability improvements mean Domino 7 can support as many as 15,000 users per CPU, compared with 8,000 in Version 6.x. Domino 7 will serve as a Web services host for J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) applications and give administrators more control over accessing applications via portals.

Lotus Workplace integration supported in this release includes the ability to access Notes applications from the Workplace client, a common storage architecture, common mail portlets, common support for portal standards such as JSR 170 and instant messaging interoperability.

“The Notes-Workplace integration is useful, though it’s still surface-level integration,” said Ken Bisconti, vice president of messaging products at Lotus. “We’ll recast the Notes client on top of the Workplace client so that Notes and Domino customers get the full benefit of the managed [Workplace] client but still have access to their Notes applications.”

Click here to read about how IBM is integrating Lotus notes with its server-managed software model and Lotus Workplace.

Users of Lotus’ Sametime and Quickplace products for IM and online meetings get entitlements to corresponding Workplace technologies. Bisconti said that was unlikely for Notes and Workplace Messaging. “We’re still trying to figure out how we’ll handle it, but we would be delivering new value to customers that they don’t have today, so we would probably try to extract more value [from customers],” he said.

Hailing IBM’s commitment to future releases of Domino and Notes, Domino developer Andrew Pollack predicted that the rich Workplace client, not yet in beta form, would have a “tough battle ahead” to become the client of choice and will need strong development tools.

“I think the development tools will mature … and grow into the creation of more traditional Lotus Notes applications,” said Pollack, president of Northern Collaborative Technologies, in Cumberland, Maine. “When the tools are ready, there will be little resistance to a change.”

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