Looking forward, IBM Lotus needs back-end improvements

At Lotusphere 2008, we'll hear about Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5 releases with more focus on the back end, performance and management capabilities, says Burton Group expert.

In 2007, IBM showcased upgrades for all of its core products, including the IBM Lotus Domino messaging and collaboration platform and
Karen Hobert
new products such as Lotus Quickr and Connections. SearchDomino.com caught up with Burton Group collaboration expert Karen Hobert to find out what to expect at Lotusphere 2008 in Orlando next week, where Domino could use a refresh and about the future of collaboration.

SearchDomino.com: With so many products released last year, what can IT shops expect for an encore?

Karen Hobert: I expect some announcements around all of the products as far as the next versions. [IBM will] be talking about Lotus Notes and Domino 8.0.1 and it will be showing off some of its 8.5 technology to give people a taste. [That's the] bigger release whereas 8.0.1 is more like a service pack.

SearchDomino.com: What is IBM addressing in 8.0.1 as far as fixes for 8.0?

Hobert: Some of the rumblings I've heard [from IT shops] have been about the performance of the Lotus Notes client. The Java-based interface - there have been complaints about performance and memory usage on the desktop. IBM has been trying to focus on some of that. IBM is also continuing on with 8.0 server performance improvements.

SearchDomino: What will we see in the Lotus and Domino 8.5 release?

Hobert: From a perspective of client versus server, the 8.0 release was focused on the usability, client interface and user experience. The 8.0.1 and 8.5 releases will be more focused on the back end, on performance and the management capabilities. Really fixing, or upgrading behind-the-scenes things [IBM] didn't have time to address while it was working on the new user interface.

SearchDomino: What gaps do you think need to be filled as far as functionality on Domino?

Hobert: One area that I felt [IBM] hadn't focused on well enough in 8.0 is around the development tools. Domino Designer 8.0 was not upgraded to the rich Eclipse client framework. That's something that was missing. In 8.0, the Domino Designer is still based on installed Windows DLLs. I'm hoping IBM will talk more about that area at Lotusphere as far as the direction of their design and development tools.

Overall, while [IBM] kept up Web development… the ability to write Java programs, do Java scripting and some HTML editing, it was almost Frankenstein-like in the way it was put on the development environment. Lotus hasn't to this point really responded well to how it's going to solve these problems. How it's going to give Domino developers the tools for making best-of-breed Web development tools.

SearchDomino.com: How are things shifting in the way people collaborate, and is IBM/Lotus keeping up with this shift?

Hobert: People are using Web browser interfaces much more now versus rich clients. I do expect to hear some announcements around software as a service models versus installing software on the desktop. [IBM] is going into the next .01 releases of all its products so it will be interesting to hear how much its upgraded [in that area] in the short time that has passed.

SearchDomino: Are Quickr and Connections getting any traction in IT shops?

Hobert: There are early adopters and I've heard mixed results and mixed success stories about both. I've heard that some are unhappy with performance problems. I'm also hearing about a lot of bake-offs of Quickr against SharePoint. As far as [product] adoption, it's a hard time in general for [IT]. IBM and Microsoft are putting some major decisions on the table as far as what to upgrade first. Should it be the OS? Office? Email?

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