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Domino and WebSphere

Lotus Domino is starting to look a bit like IBM?s WebSphere.

Like a pet and its owner, Lotus Domino is starting to look a bit like IBM's WebSphere. But since Lotus announced last January that Notes/Domino Rnext, like WebSphere, will deliver JavaServer Pages (JSPs), both companies have been striving to distinguish their products in the minds of administrators.

Rnext's Web application server supports JSPs and JSP tag libraries, and is reported to have improved interoperability with IBM WebSphere, as well as support for Microsoft Internet Information Server. Lotus and IBM are clearly prodding administrators toward WebSphere, through media interviews and their own publications, like the IBM redbook, "Domino and WebSphere Together."

Domino's collaborative strengths and WebSphere's scalability and effectiveness with transactions may make the products a good fit. "We always under-architect things," says Tony Higham, director of IBM technologies at RareMedium Group Inc., an Internet services firm based in New York City. "Domino should operate in a multi-tiered system, behind a stand-alone Web application server. But, and it's a damned shame, Domino does not integrate well with IBM HTTP Server [in WebSphere]."

Chris Edwards, vice president of IS for Kendallville, Ind.-based manufacturer Group Dekko, is confident that Lotus will tighten Domino's integration with WebSphere. "I think you're going to see Domino and WebSphere coming together in the future," he said. "There's already been some movement from both sides." Edwards currently manages Group Dekko's Web sites with Domino R5, but he'll soon count on WebSphere to support his company's b-to-b transactions and growing traffic. He also plans to upgrade to Rnext.

But some administrators think Lotus is forcing them to choose between WebSphere and Rnext. "Someone sitting in my shoes might ask, 'Should I be doing Domino, or should I be doing WebSphere?" Edwards says. "And I'm not sure what the answer to that question should be. I'm not even sure [Lotus] has the answer."

The answer may be that both are needed, because Rnext falls short of WebSphere's performance and scalability. "It's clear that Rnext will contain some of the capabilities [of WebSphere], especially JavaServer Pages," says Higham. "But the plain truth is that Domino's HTTP stack has known limitations. It will crap out a lot faster than anything else."

Still wondering just where Rnext leaves off, and WebSphere picks up? These links should help clarify the issue:,
"Categorically, we are not going after the same market as WebSphere," writes Jeff Calow, Web technologies architect for Domino Rnext. Instead, he insists, Rnext's Web application server will be an entry-level platform for Web technicians. "The applications you write will be able to move from Domino into WebSphere without modifications."

Best practices for WebSphere and Domino:
Tony Higham's live audio chat on Best Practices for Domino and Websphere can be viewed here. Tony gives a presentation and answers questions from the audience.
This 560 page IBM redbook, "Domino and WebSphere Together," shows administrators how to integrate Domino and WebSphere for e-business applications.
This article details Rnext's Web application server features, and boasts of the product's "improved interoperability with IBM WebSphere, support for Microsoft Internet Information Server, and more configuration control options."
The integration of Domino and WebSphere will continue," says Lotus' Art Fontaine in this article, including "integration with the WebSphere design environment."

Mark Baard is a contributing writer based in Milton, Mass.

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