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IBM's Goyal challenges Microsoft at Lotusphere

IBM worked to reinvigorate its Notes Domino partner and developer armies at this year's Lotusphere. Microsoft's E12 came in for special attention.

IBM worked to reinvigorate its Notes Domino partner and developer franchise yesterday as Ambuj Goyal, general manager of Workplace, Portal and Collaborative Software at IBM, welcomed attendees to Lotusphere in Orlando, Fla. with word of new tools and services for Domino, Notes, and Workplace. The announcements come as competitor Microsoft is in the middle of refiguring its Exchange product lines.

In honor of an occasion billed as the '20th birthday of Notes,' Notes inventor Ray Ozzie, now head of Groove Networks, was on hand at this year's Lotusphere, sharing for a while Goyal's keynote stage.

"Microsoft has promised collaboration for many years in Exchange but never delivered. Approximately half of Microsoft's base is still on Exchange 5.5, a seven-year-old platform. It promised Kodiak, but decided to kill the project," said Goyal.

There is evidence that IBM Lotus, sees a market opportunity in Microsoft's troubled rollout of a new Exchange. "As usual, not enough details," said Goyal, referring to Microsoft's recently unveiled "E12" Exchange roadmap.

At Lotusphere, IBM disclosed Workplace development tools, as well as new tools to ease the burden of Domino and Visual Basic developers building Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE)-based applications and components. Enhanced integration of Notes clients with new Workplace J2EE applications was described as well. Goyal noted advanced use of IBM J2EE collaborative services, at the same time he pledged better interoperation with established IBM Notes collaborative services.

In his presentation, Goyal was clearly trying to rouse not just customers, but the IBM Lotus work force as well. Much depends on Goyal's leadership as IBM seeks to best Microsoft in areas of collaboration for enterprises. His work leading to the introduction of the WebSphere product family marks him as one of the pioneers responsible for setting the early direction in Web application servers. During his IBM career, Goyal has increasingly worked at ensuring that engineering technologies contribute to IBM's services offerings and software products, and the Workplace effort is one of the most ambitious efforts yet on Goyal's part.

Even as it continues the rollout of Workplace, Lotus is updating Lotus Domino with Domino Domain Monitoring tools and Web services integration support. IBM currently plans to make Notes and Domino 7 available in the summer 2005.

For his part, Ray Ozzie was present at several Lotusphere events, including a session marking the 20th anniversary of the birth of the concept of Lotus Notes. [Editors' Note: The age of Notes has also at times been set at 15 years, based on its appearance as a full commercial product in 1989.]

Ozzie, who severed his ties to Lotus when he launched collaborative software provider Groove Networks, noted how instant messaging [IM] has begun to pass e-mail as a communications tool. It was in observing his own children, that he noted the rise of IM.

For the new generation, "e-mail is dead," he noted. "Instant messaging is their email," he said.

"Email is where you go to get messages from people you don't want to talk to," chided Ozzie.


With reporting by Beth Rosenberg.

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