Lotus Notes/Domino 7 ready, collaboration on the upswing, says Rhodin

In his first major announcement as IBM's Lotus GM, Mike Rhodin ushered in Notes/Domino 7 and discussed the future of Lotus.

Achieving the schedule it had committed to, IBM today formally launched Version 7 of its flagship Lotus Notes and Domino platform. Recently appointed Lotus General Manager Mike Rhodin emphasized that the Notes and Domino family is key in overall growth of IBM's software business.

"The strength and success of the Lotus business has never been better," Rhodin said. "We've had double-digit growth for three consecutive quarters and 500 competitive customer wins in the first half of 2005 for Notes/Domino. Customers are moving to new products at an unprecedented rate. Notes/Domino has tremendous momentum."

Collaboration and user productivity are the keys in IBM's message behind Release 7.0. Domino 7 includes new collaboration features and tools that can help improve productivity for IT administrators and corporate application developers, as well as productivity enhancements to help Notes users work more efficiently.

"We know from our own studies that customers are deluged with inbound e-mail, requests for meetings, new documents, and are looking for new ways to prioritize and get work done, to find new ways of organizing and flagging messages and also get expanded presence awareness," said Ken Bisconti, vice president of IBM's Workplace, Portal and Collaboration business.

According to Bisconti, Notes 7 users will benefit from more than 100 new features that will allow them to manage an increasing volume of information. New visual indicators can help users organize and manage their in-box by highlighting priority messages, as well as differentiating between group e-mails and messages targeted for specific users. New memory functions will automatically save and return to open documents and applications upon shut down and restart. Instant messaging and presence technology, already integrated in the Notes client, has been expanded across the platform, including e-mails and calendar items.

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Domino 7 also includes new tools for application developers. IBM claims that more than 65 percent of its customers are building as many or more Domino-based applications this year than a year ago. However, these customers have indicated a need to protect their investment in Domino-based applications as they move closer to Web services-oriented architectures. To help them meet this need, IBM has made upgrades to the Domino 7 toolset, including a new Web services design element that lets developers use Domino as a Web services host. Release 7.0 also gives developers the option of using either traditional NSF storage features or IBM DB2 as the foundation for new and existing applications.

No migration problems

During today's announcement of the general availability of Release 7.0, Rhodin stressed that moving to the new version of Notes/Domino was a natural evolution. "We're careful not to create a huge migration problem for our customers," he said. "Migrations don't lead to a lot of economic value."

That's not to say upgrades aren't a key indicator. "When customers upgrade, that's a vote of confidence," Rhodin said. "Since we launched Notes/Domino 6.0 in 2002, almost 90% of our installed base is either on the current release or upgrading."

In terms of IBM's roadmap for Notes/Domino customers, Rhodin said, "We're telling customers that staying the course with Notes/Domino will lead them to where we're heading with IBM Workplace." He noted that there had been "a lot of speculation, mostly fostered by our competition, that there's a major migration in store for Notes/Domino customers. Nothing could be farther from the truth." He said that the future version of Notes, code-named Hannover, represents "a blending of Workplace and Notes technology," and that customers deploying Hannover "won't have to any migrations or rip-and-replace."

Prior to assuming the position of general manager for the IBM Lotus divison, Rhodin had responsibility for development of the Lotus product portfolio, which includes WebSphere Portal, Lotus Notes/Domino and the rest of the Lotus product line. He also led the Lotus worldwide technical support organization and was responsible for the Lotus customer satisfaction initiatives.

Before that, he led IBM's development efforts for Pervasive Computing from November 1999 through January 2003. His responsibilities included the development of the WebSphere Everyplace family of offerings, WebSphere Portal, the WebSphere Voice offerings as well as new embedded software componentry.

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According to analyst Maurene Grey, who recently launched Grey Consulting, her own research firm specializing in messaging and collaboration, Notes/Domino 7.0 carries forward a subtle strategic goal. With it, she says, IBM Lotus "wants to end the legacy Domino versus Exchange enterprise mindset. She called e-mail the measuring stick by which most enterprises evaluate an IBM Lotus or Microsoft offering. "Both vendors can claim that they build a better e-mail application. The reality is that by 2008 the majority of enterprises will discard evaluating e-mail applications in favor of portfolio offerings, such as IBM Workplace and Microsoft Office System. IBM's intent is to capture the portfolio market and if Notes/Domino 7.0 can propel this strategy – so much the better."

Pricing and availability

The Lotus Notes and Domino 7 product family, including Sametime7, QuickPlace7, Domino Designer 7, Domino Web Access, Domino Express products and other product offerings is now generally available.

Domino server software starts at an SRP of $1145 per CPU, while IBM Lotus Notes software starts at SRP $101 per client. IBM Lotus Domino Web Access 7, IBM's Web-based messaging client, starts at SRP of $70 per client.

Domino 7 is currently available for Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows 2003; IBM iSeries, zSeries (z/OS and Linux), AIX 5.2 or 5.3; Sun Solaris 9; and Linux (x86) -- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 8 or 9. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 4 and Sun Solaris 10 support will be available within 30 days.

Notes 7 is available for Windows 2000 and XP. Support for the Mac OS is planned for future release of Lotus Notes. Lotus Domino Web Access 7 is available on Microsoft Internet Explorer (Win32), Mozilla 1.7x (Linux) and Firefox 1.0.x (Win32 & Linux).

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