Domino & WebSphere: It's getting better all the time
By Wendy Maxfield
This is the first of a three-part series on WebSphere, the Web application server at the core of IBM's e-business strategy. Today we'll take a look at what WebSphere is and how IBM and Lotus are working to bring more synergy to Domino and WebSphere.
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Since 1998 when IBM initially launched its WebSphere software platform, there has been a tremendous amount of confusion about the role of Domino in a WebSphere world. But it looks as if the smoke may finally be clearing.
E-business had been offered by IBM for quite some time now, and it's clear that as IBM's e-business push is on now, Domino fits better into the equation. IBM announced a new line of servers designed for e-business: the e-server in October. In September, a $9,999 WebSphere-Domino price bundle was launched which, despite being a price break and not an applications integration breakthrough, nonetheless allowed for greater integration between the two application servers. Lotus also released the 5.05 release of Domino, which includes the coveted Single Sign On (SSO) option between the Domino and WebSphere servers, as well as, enhanced Java support.
These 5.05 features keep promises made last January at Lotusphere of better integration between the two. Art Fontaine, Lotus marketing manager for WebSphere-Domino integration, says more integration is on the horizon. "We've already delivered many integration points that were promised by year's end, and we have an ongoing process of integration that will deliver complete and total integration," he says.
WebSphere at a Glance
IBM's Web and e-business strategy hinges on WebSphere, a set of Java tools that allow for the creation and management of Web sites particularly for businesses trying to keep pace with a heavy volume of transactions.
The foundation of the WebSphere platform is the WebSphere Application Server (WAS), which provides the core software, and IBM's MQ Series, which is middleware that permits different systems within a company to all work together.
There are three different server versions targeted at large and mid-sized companies. The Standard Edition is included with Domino R5, the Advanced Edition also includes an Enterprise JavaBeans programming environment, and the Enterprise Edition adds the Component Broker C++ ORB for writing and deploying C++ based server objects.
IBM adds to this with WebSphere Studio, a set of PC-based Web application-development tools for creating and managing a Web site. WebSphere Studio includes the Apache Web server, which permits on-the-spot testing.
WebSphere software supports open, industry standards such as Java and XML, so that companies can customize and integrate with third-party applications. WebSphere runs on all major hardware platforms and operating systems. Lotus' Fontaine sums up WebSphere by noting that "WebSphere equals Java. It's written in Java, for Java."
Adding Domino to the Mix
Domino is billed as an "application accelerator" in the WebSphere model. Its strengths in the collaborative services arena -- messaging, workflow and content management - are seen as a complement to WebSphere's scalability, robust transaction processing and Java programming model. "Domino will scale well," Fontaine says, "but it doesn't do transactions."
Fontaine emphasizes that the early confusion between Domino and WebSphere was "our failure to state clearly that the two are applications servers of a different nature and are best suited to different places. Using WebSphere and Domino together allows you to create greater applications than either one could do its own."
He also acknowledges that greater synergy between the two products is in the works and, although no dates are mentioned, plans are in the works to add LotusScript to WebSphere so that it eventually becomes part of the WebSphere infrastructure layer.
The confusion between the two products is a bit ironic, notes Fontaine, since WebSphere and Domino were cut from the same cloth. IBM initially created a Web server -- just an HTTP stack -- and gave it to Lotus to transition Notes into a Web server, what we know as Domino. Lotus also marketed this as a stand-alone product, the Domino Go Webserver. IBM opted to augment this stack with Java servlets, and there you have it: WebSphere was born.
In our second installment we'll take look at IBM and Lotus resources on the Web for developing an e-commerce strategy and outline some case studies that use Domino and WebSphere.
Wendy Maxfield is a contributing editor based in Littleton, Mass.