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The real deal on Domino's future

ORLANDO, Fla. -- At Lotusphere, the message was clear -- IBM Lotus is committed to helping its installed base leverage existing Notes/Domino investments as it moves to a Java-based world. But what does this really mean for the Notes/Domino die-hards? We spoke with Kevin Cavanaugh, Lotus' vice president of messaging development, to get the lowdown on the future of Notes/Domino.

Will ND7 be an essential step, or can companies go from ND6.5.1 straight to ND8?
Typically, we've always had to support people skipping versions. You've got people on 4.6 going straight to 6. I think Domino 7 will be incredibly persuasive just in the total cost of ownership benefits -- scalability, server consolidation and conserving the cost of administration. But some customers say, 'I can't take an annual upgrade.' I say that's fine. You can skip a release.


Special event coverage: Lotusphere '04

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So when can users get their hands on ND7?
We're planning on releasing Domino 7 in the first half of 2005. The core thing we're working on is approximately an annual release cycle. We shipped Domino 6.5 in 2003 -- exactly 12 months from the release of Domino 6. We just went gold on [ND]6.5.1 for the Domino portion, and extended products will be released in March. We'll bring out IM 6.5.1, Teamspace 6.5.1, Meetings 6.5.1 and so on. We've been after a [common] nomenclature [for the Domino product line]. I couldn't remember the release numbers that coordinated with Domino, and I'm sure others couldn't either. We're after consistent support for versions of browsers, as well. We'll get a release in Q1 of this year, and [roll out] Domino 7 a year after that. There was little mention of Domino 7 at the general session. Why?
That's because a huge amount of what we're doing in Domino 7 is server oriented. The real answer is we struggled with how to make it persuasive in a stage presentation. In our Domino 7 session [at Lotusphere], we demonstrated Designer 7 and talked about how we would [support] DB2 apps in Domino 7 and showed client pieces in Domino 7. The features are around performance, and we're looking at 75% server CPU utilization improvements [and] 50% scalability gains. There are domain-wide admin pieces that haven't been brought into that environment. We have the option to host NSF data in DB2, and Domino applications can be separate from their data servers. Each year, you leave things out [of a presentation], and people read more into it than they should. Domino 7 is the next major deliverable we're working on. Are existing Domino customers deploying Workplace or its components?
Typically, they are looking at Workplace as something to roll out to folks who are not served today by Domino. They aren't looking at it as an alternative to Domino, but an extension. You have retail users who get their e-mail on a cash register. How sophisticated is their mail? Factory floor workers need to get e-mail at a kiosk. Companies want to stop delivering physical paychecks. People might just get one e-mail a day, but it's important they have it. If a company of 300,000 people has 100,000 users of Notes, we'll ask what they do with the other 200,000 people. Do you have segments who aren't served? Do we have an economic proposition with Workplace that would allow us to help these people? Where do WebSphere Portal and Workplace come together?
We're in the mode of mining each other's technologies. With WebSphere Portal, we're providing an infrastructure. With Workplace and J2EE or Domino with Workplace on top of it, we're looking at a set of collaborative applications. It doesn't matter where you start, because they will ultimately converge. If you want an infrastructure to link together legacy applications, then you'll start with Portal. You can gradually tie in collaborative [elements] and then go to Workplace. If you want collaborative features such as IM, you'll start at Workplace, then use Domino in the Workplace context, then tie in third-party applications and go to WebSphere Portal. Does Notes become redundant when you have the same functionality available in Workplace 2.0's rich client?
No, because there are millions of applications [built for Notes], and they are going to live for a long time and continue to grow. That's because Domino Designer is very productive; it's an incredible way to field an application quickly. Now you can create portlets and expose pieces of Domino applications in the portal. Plus, people are going to keep building new [applications for Notes].
I think the biggest concern in Domino shops is, 'What am I going to do with all these Domino applications? Will we be left high and dry?'
Kevin Cavanaugh
Vice president of messaging developmentIBM Lotus
What do you think users should take away from the keynote address at Lotusphere?
If anything, users should leave with the thought that there is continuity between what they've experienced with Domino and Notes and where we're going with Workplace. We have WebSphere Portal as an infrastructure piece, and we have Domino and the Domino family of products more clearly integrated than in the past. We also have J2EE-based Workplace, and we're trying to converge all of those elements. With [ND]6.5.1, we tried to provide portal access with a Workplace look and feel to what we have in Domino. We intend to use the Workplace client to build Notes 8.

I think the biggest concern in Domino shops is, 'What am I going to do with all these Domino applications? Will we be left high and dry?' Domino Web applications can be exposed within the portal [using the] Domino Web Application Portlet. Here's another subtle point: Folks in Domino shops have skills in Domino Designer. With Domino Web Access Portlet, you can use Designer to build portlets and build on your existing skill base. The other big issue is 'What about Notes-client applications?' Notes 8 and the bridging of Workplace technology in Notes is the answer there.

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