Users wary of Lotus name change

Lotus Development Corp. is now Lotus Software, as the company's name begins to reflect a closer alignment with parent company IBM.

Lotus is no longer a company, it's a brand: Lotus Software from IBM.

After six years, IBM's takeover of Lotus Development Corp. is starting to look like the real deal. And while, for now, Domino customers may only have to adjust to seeing IBM logos on their sales reps' business cards, many are wondering how much of Lotus will remain in the mix, besides the name.

Actually, the paint on Lotus' new logo has hardly dried. Early this week, Lotus' Web designers were still getting it wrong -- a forward slash divided the names IBM and Lotus -- on the Lotus home page. The logo has since been changed to read, simply, "Lotus Software."

But that's where IBM hopes the confusion will end. For now, the names of all of Lotus' products will remain the same. "I really don't believe it's a dramatic change," says Kevin Powers, director of brand marketing at IBM Lotus Software. "Our goal is actually to clear up the confusion about how all of the [IBM] brands are interrelated."

But some think IBM is starting to eclipse Lotus' software with its own products.

"I fear IBM's takeover and extensive push of the WebSphere [Internet middleware] will leave smaller businesses with smaller pockets - but with the need for e-business and e-commerce tools -- in the dust," says Angie Schottmuller, Domino application developer at Oakdale, Minn.-based Imation Corp.

IBM is already tightening integration between Domino and WebSphere. Like WebSphere, Domino Rnext will support Java Server Pages (JSPs) and JSP tag libraries.

IBM has also folded Lotus' knowledge management (KM) portal, K-station, into WebSphere's own Server Portal.

The changes have surprised some senior admins, who see little room for Domino in a WebSphere environment.

In a recent course about Domino and WebSphere integration, Steven Gatehouse, a Lotus Notes trainer at London, UK-based Spring Group plc., saw the Domino server serving only as the HTTP stack. "And since you could use the IIS' or WebSphere's own stack," he says, "it kinda made Domino look redundant."

Other server admins and developers say the new Lotus brand marks the beginning of the end for Lotus software altogether.

"Although everybody at IBM and Lotus is denying it, we even might see the end of Domino as we knew it," says Lothar Mueller, a Domino professional based in Munich, Germany.

While Mueller doesn't expect Domino to be discontinued, he thinks it may eventually become a very small part of IBM's Web software strategy.

All branding stuff aside, says IBM Lotus' Powers, "Lotus has upwards of 85 million seats, and that's hard to do away with. "Our base is our strength and that's something IBM wants to build upon. On the other side of this equation is IBM's vast install base. And [Lotus has] barely scratched the surface of that."

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