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Expert predictions: 2004 is the year of collaboration

Industry experts say IBM Lotus will take messaging and collaboration to the next level in 2004.

IBM Lotus brought us enhanced features to Domino 6, Workplace and a whole slew of other announcements and upgrades. So what will 2004 bring? The industry experts give their their forecast – some more realistic than others. All of them agreed that 2004 will be a year full of changes and options for Domino and WebSphere pros.


Messaging and collaboration prevail
Jim Mason

There are many things I could say about Lotus software and its impact in 2004. To be brief, I see the following:

  • IBM will continue the same marketing message for Lotus: Lotus' solutions now focus primarily on messaging and collaboration in a broad sense for enterprises.

  • Lotus Workplace defines Lotus' real role as only messaging and collaboration. WebSphere and DB2 own a lot of turf that used to belong to Domino (circa 2000): Java Web application serving, content management, portals, relational database applications, etc.

  • IBM has a very strong marketing channel to sell Lotus solutions: old Lotus business partners that want more services revenue and many other IBM business partners who can now offer Lotus solutions to their customers. This should keep Lotus' sales fairly high.

  • Lotus solutions fit the larger enterprise better than the small businesses today. The Lotus solutions today are more expensive than they were three or four years ago. The returns for larger customers should be positive most of the time. Smaller customers will be looking closer at other options that cost less -- open source solutions for one. It will be interesting to see how many smaller businesses buy into Lotus solutions this year.

  • IBM wants Lotus customers to start running WebSphere application servers. The marketing channel will focus on the benefits of that migration more than the costs. It will be interesting to see what percentage of the current Lotus base will make the migration to WebSphere and what extra incentives IBM will have to offer to make that migration happen.
What will you do?
  • If you're running Domino application server and don't have a need to change in the short term, don't.

  • If you're looking at migrating, you need to look closely at the total costs of proposed solutions. If you're a larger company, you can afford the outside help, and you'll want to effectively plan and migrate to WebSphere from an experienced services provider.

  • One nice option for smaller businesses is WebSphere Express. I've found it's a great fit with smaller businesses: $2,000 per processor, easy to implement basic applications and has all the application services most companies need (J2EE [minus EJB], XML and Web services, for example). Contrary to opinions from IBM and others, it can be scaled reasonably well in many scenarios. Here again, you'll save time and money getting good outside help from experienced services partners. If you're implementing WebSphere Express to run an application package that you are getting from a software vendor, they can often either provide or recommend a WebSphere services provider who also knows their application.

  • If you're a Domino application developer, you'll probably want to learn more about WebSphere development. While Web applications in general have some similarities, you'll find that there are many differences in WebSphere. This isn't like going from R5 to R6. IBM Redbooks can help only to some degree. It's better to get your hands on a copy of one of the many versions of IBM's WebSphere Development Studio. At the low end, WebSphere Studio Site Developer costs less than $1,000. At the high end, it's expensive. Some companies may qualify for a free upgrade to the WebSphere tools from another IBM toolset (for example, iSeries customers upgrading from an existing iSeries development tool).

  • IBM and experienced business partners offer training on WebSphere development. Their extensive skills in Domino and/or WebSphere development can help developers migrate with a customized plan.

Jim Mason is president of ebt-now, an IBM and Lotus business partner focused on delivering e-business application solutions for iSeries 400 customers. Jim writes, consults, teaches, designs and develops iSeries Web applications using Java, WebSphere, DB2, Lotus Domino and the WebSphere Development Tools for the iSeries.


All new Notes, Workplace and DB2
Jens Bruntt

  • Long live the Notes client!
    For the last couple of years, there has been a feeling among the Notes/Domino development community that the Notes client has been through its prime and that IBM is doing its best to finish it off -- basically mostly by not talking about it at all. In 2004, I believe that this will change. IBM and Lotus will actually start talking positively about the old beast, and the Rich Client Functionality will be rediscovered. It might come as a surprise to some, but recreating a lot of what we do in the Notes client in the browser is very expensive.

  • Lotus Workplace will have a search engine -- reintroducing the Raven.
    The Lotus Workplace tech people were patting their collective backs when a usability expert (most likely a victim of a bad dotcom) happened to see one of the slides of the IBM-internal presentation. "Um, where's the search bar?" she said. You can't possibly have a portal without a search engine. Of course, Lotus Workplace (or WebSphere Portal Server with a touch) needs a search engine, too. I'm betting that the Raven will be taken in for a bit of reinvention, some plumbing will be re-routed, Knowledge Management will be relabeled into IBM Lotus Workplace Extended Directory Search. And what have we got? IBM Lotus Workplace Discovery Search Bar, or ILWDSB.

  • DB2 replaces .NSF
    2004 will be the year when Domino administrators will learn how to use a new option for their beloved COMPACT task. It will be called -DB2. Yes, it seamlessly converts a Notes format database into DB2. All existing functionality of the application will be kept intact. Documents will be unharmed, embedded OLE objects will still work. Performance will be greatly enhanced and scalability will be improved considerably. Everything will be transparent to the users, administrators and developers. The only thing we will notice is the performance increase.

    The process goes like this: Insert the IBM Lotus Domino R7 CD-R in the drive, run the installation program, accept the defaults, restart the server and accept the Directory upgrade. Then type the following at the server console "LOAD COMPACT -DB2" and watch your databases get a new structure. Amazing.

Jens Bruntt is a senior consultant at Danish Convergens, architecting Domino browser-based Internet, intranet and extranet sites.


Bring on Domino 7!
Michael Lazar

I'm very excited about 2004. The economy seems to be coming around, just as it always does for election years. Companies had been putting off large capital expenditures during the tight times, but now the hardware that was put in place for Y2K has to be replaced.

I see a lot of shops moving to new hardware and Domino 6.5. And I'm VERY excited about Domino 7. The ability to use a relational backend such as DB2 is extremely attractive to many companies that have been trying to get Domino to do tasks that it wasn't necessarily designed to do.

Some of the larger CRM applications housed in Domino could become much more efficient, user-friendly and manageable on a relational backend.

I can't say it enough: Domino 7 could be the best thing to hit collaboration since the advent of replication.

Michael Lazar is the owner of Illini Consulting. He specializes in providing world-class Domino administration. Mike offers services in security audits, version upgrades, project management, capacity planning, clustering, partitioning, Web administration, S/MIME setup, SMTP configuration, migrations, disaster recovery and legacy integration.

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