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Lotus to offer free, restricted WebSphere with Domino 6

In an effort to appease concerns about its J2EE development program, Lotus has decided to include a free version of WebSphere 5 in the soon-to-be released Domino 6. But there are a few catches.

IBM's Lotus Software has confirmed that it will offer a free but restricted version of its WebSphere application server when the final version of Domino 6 is released next week.

Arthur Fontaine, senior marketing manager for IBM and Lotus Software, said those who have purchased Domino 6 will be granted an entitlement to use WebSphere Application Server Version 5, which is slated for release later this year, at no additional charge.

However, until WebSphere 5 is available, Lotus is bundling Domino 6 with a free version of WebSphere Application Server Advanced Edition Version 4.03.

Domino 6 users who do take advantage of the free versions of WebSphere will face some restrictions. Fontaine said. WebSphere must be installed on the same machine as Domino 6 and will only be licensed for access to Domino applications and data, meaning it can't be connected to external data sources like Oracle servers for the purpose of running large Web applications.

Fontaine said Lotus made the move in order to quell Domino developers' concerns about Lotus's Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) development program. During the initial development of Domino 6, Lotus planned to incorporate an in-house engine, called Garnet, for developing and deploying J2EE-based applications and natively supporting Java Server Pages (JSPs).

"The benefit of adding the new WebSphere in is that you can, without a separate purchase, expose some of the J2EE capability in Domino 6 like enhanced Java APIs and the JSP tag library that we're putting into Domino 6," Fontaine said.

Earlier this year -- after it had already been included in several beta versions of Domino 6 -- Lotus decided to scrap the Garnet program in favor of IBM's WebSphere platform, triggering a firestorm of criticism from the Domino developer community.

Some speculated that the inclusion of WebSphere might give Lotus an excuse to up the price of Domino 6, but in a March interview with, Lotus senior manager of enterprise messaging Ed Brill said the company was "going to figure out the right thing to do" about pricing for WebSphere with Domino 6.

"We want to emphasize that giving them a product that retails for $12,000 per CPU is, we think, a very fair way of tiding [users] over to the point where they're going to want to get the [Domino] 6 product," Fontaine said.

Lotus is expected to announce pricing information for Domino 6 next Tuesday, when it officially releases the product.

Fontaine said that both of the WebSphere versions will offer improvements over Version 3.5, the outdated version that has been available for free to Domino customers since 1998. Enhancements include a J2EE certification single sign-on capability, which enables users to sign on to WebSphere servers and Domino servers with the same credentials.

The WebSphere entitlements will also aid those looking to incorporate Web services with Domino applications. Fontaine said the combination of WebSphere 5 and Domino 6 will allow developers to avoid tedious manual processes that come with exposing functionality though a Web services engine for consumption by another application.

Though Fontaine said WebSphere 4.03 serves as an adequate fill-in for Version 5, Lotus has identified and documented several compatibility problems between 4.03 and Domino 6. One such issue is a slight mismap on the Unix platform between the Java Virtual Machines (JVMs) of the two products, meaning that the Java APIs must be accessed via CORBA rather than through local classes.

"We think the impact of the problems will be low to moderate, and they will [be] addressed with Version 5 when it hits the street," Fontaine said.

Fontaine also confirmed that plans are already underway at Lotus for a successor to Domino 6. Known internally as Domino 6+X, not Domino 7 as has been reported, the full feature release is tentatively scheduled for 12 to 15 months after next week's official launch of Domino 6. The newer product will include further J2EE development enhancements.


CLICK for an exclusive: Lotus makes comeback with Notes and Domino 6

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