Q

From Domino to WebSphere

I have been doing Domino development for few years. During this period I have developed from simple discussion databases to complex workflow applications for Web and Notes clients to e-commerce Web sites with both Domino and relational databases as the backend. I have coded using formula language and LotusScript, made agents in Java and used JavaScript with my Domino Web applications. Now my questions are:

  1. I want to start working my way towards WebSphere. What should be my initial step(s) for getting there?

  2. The more I read about WebSphere, the more I get confused. There are different versions of WebSphere out there for different platforms. Which one should I use for taking my first steps? Do I even need to worry about this?

  3. How would I transition my experience and knowledge from Domino to WebSphere?

  4. How would I transition my applications from Domino to WebSphere?

  5. Since I am jumping into a new boat, is this the right boat to jump into? I mean what does the future holds for this new boat? Is it a stable boat? Should I jump into some other boat like Oracle or .NET? If I have to make a fresh start, why not jump into a boat that has more stable history (stable in the sense of what they do and stay committed to it)?

  6. I do not see any future for Domino. Is that a fair observation?

  7. Why there is so much push from IBM towards WebSphere? Domino is going to use a relational database as the backend in version 7, and you can write a Java agent in Domino, which has an HTTP server, so what is WebSphere adding to all this?
Sometime I wonder if IBM has a clue what they do and where they are going! Do they have a long-term vision? Or do they just decide "Let's do this for few years and then we will start something new or we will give up and start using what others have developed"? The examples that come to mind are OS2 and Lotus (Lotus Suite, Lotus Notes), but I am sure there are other examples, as well, and since I have limited knowledge, I am quoting only these two. I am sure I am not the only one frustrated, there are other developers out there who are in the same situation.
Here are the answers to your questions.
  1. Start learning about the platform, perhaps by investigating IBM's various certification offerings for the platform. You can learn more here.

  2. That's because IBM software runs on different platforms. If you're just getting started, concentrate first on those runtime platform to which you have (or can gain) access. Proximity leads to opportunities for hands-on learning and practice, which is what's most important when starting out.

  3. In whatever way makes most sense to you. For me to give you a detailed answer to this question would require me to have some degree of fluency in both platforms, which I do not possess. You could, however, find somebody who is "bi-platformic" (if you don't mind a little wordplay) and ask them this same question, and probably get a more useful answer.

    (Editor's Note: Try TechTarget's ITKnowledge Exchange for users who would have experience with both Domino and WebSphere.)

  4. Ditto above.

  5. IBM is certainly putting a lot of effort behind WebSphere, but I don't see it as a perfect replacement for Lotus/Domino by any means, nor do I agree with your fears and/or assessment of Domino's (lack of a) future in the next question. My understanding is that WebSphere aims more at public Web presences and has a decided emphasis on e-business, e-commerce and so forth, while Domino is a tool for intranets and internal organizational networks. It's neither a foregone conclusion that one is therefore a replacement for the other nor that both are designed to serve the same needs.

  6. Lotus and Domino, for that matter, are still pretty widely used. Although I, too, have heard rumors of its demise (and, in fact, heard many of those same rumors back in 1997-1998 when I worked for Tivoli, another IBM company), I'm not convinced it's either immanent or inevitable. The user base for Lotus remains strong, interested and large -- all appealing qualities to companies trying to service and maintain existing, mature markets. I think it's not unreasonable to worry about this a little, but not a lot.

  7. IBM wants to get into the small and medium-sized business market that's waking up to the urgent need to be able to conduct and maintain e-business. As per my earlier statements on product positioning for WebSphere versus Domino, I don't think they're necessarily converging on the same markets or necessarily in strong competition with one another. Besides, very large companies like IBM can, in many ways, be better understood as a loose federation of somewhat independent (and sometimes fiercely competitive) fiefdoms/divisions; it's not at all unusual to find parallel technology investments, developments and products in existences. I'm not sure this does justice to the differences that I perceive between Lotus Domino and IBM WebSphere, but that kind of culture and political climate is important to appreciate and to understand (at least, as much as possible).
--Ed--
This was first published in September 2004

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