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Lotus delivers all-inclusive message on messaging

Look for Lotus to devote more energy to bringing messaging products to underserved workers. At Admin2003, a Lotus exec discussed plans to go beyond the "deskless" employee.

LAS VEGAS -- An IBM Lotus executive kicked off the Admin 2003 conference with a pledge to create messaging products for workers who, up to this point, haven't captured enough attention from coders.

Ken Bisconti, vice president of messaging and advanced collaboration solutions, made the case that messaging development has centered on midlevel workers, with high-end and low-end users ancillary to development strategies.

IBM Lotus is hoping to bridge that perceived gap with future WebSphere-based portal technologies and its next-generation Workplace Messaging offering, which runs on WebSphere and DB2 and is due out later this month.

"We will come up with new products to meet new markets, such as 'deskless' workers," said Bisconti, who addressed a crowd of roughly 1,000 Domino administrators at the annual conference.

Bisconti reinforced his claim that the messaging market is growing by noting that unions have started to add messaging requirements to labor agreements, in essence mandating that companies provide workers with access to e-mail.

In addition to adding new strategies intended to bring e-mail to the so-called "deskless" workers, a group that includes employees such as bank tellers and factory workers, Bisconti said that IBM Lotus would take steps to address the needs of high-end messaging users who want advanced collaboration and message management features.

According to Bisconti, ND7, the next major release of Notes and Domino, will add native DB2 integration to Domino as an optional replacement for the current .NSF database. In addition to closer DB2 integration, WebSphere will also play a big role in release 7 by adding more portal support, as well as serving as a platform for developing a slew of J2EE applications. Bisconti reminded users that a J2EE tool kit would soon be available to ease development in an object-oriented environment.

Bisconti's comments had some admins a little surprised by IBM Lotus' aggressiveness in integrating WebSphere and DB2 into its lineup.

"IBM Workplace Messaging doesn't need Domino any more," said Patrick Readinger, a Domino admin at the Naval Sea Logistics Center in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Readinger said he is surprised by the way Bisconti's presentation seemed to juxtapose WebSphere Everyplace against Domino.

"I really don't mind what they do, as long as they continue to make a viable and useful product family," Readinger added.

Others thought that the presentation offered a positive view of what's to come in terms of new features and benefits that would help admins and end users.

Amy Evans, a Lotus Notes admin with Chemical Lawn Co. in Fort Worth, Texas, said she thought the new features touted by Bisconti would be a boon to overworked admins. Evans was also impressed with some of the WebSphere functionality that Bisconti highlighted.

"With the way WebSphere ties in, we may be able to utilize some of the functions for our remote workers," Evans said.

A beta version of ND 6.5 is currently available. Look for ND7 to roll out in late 2004.


IBM Lotus brings e-mail to all

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