Lotus to increase Domino/IBM integration

The next version of Lotus Development's Domino collaboration and messaging software, codenamed "Rnext", will feature deeper...

The next version of Lotus Development's Domino collaboration and messaging software, codenamed "Rnext", will feature deeper integration with IBM's WebSphere application server and DB2 Universal Database, according to sources.

IBM is the parent company of Lotus, which it acquired in 1995. Representatives from IBM have routinely denied that Big Blue is seeking to bring Lotus more tightly into the corporate fold. But at last January's Lotusphere conference, executives from IBM and Lotus said integration between the two companies' applications would increase.

The closer ties between Domino and WebSphere and DB2 are set to be announced today at IBM's Solutions conference for developers in San Francisco, the sources said. Representatives from Lotus and IBM could not be reached immediately for comment.

"It think it's very good news for Domino users and their developers to advance Domino into a WebSphere environment, and it's good news for IBM because they can take this installed base of enterprise users and up-sell them DB2 and WebSphere," said analyst Dana Gardner, Aberdeen Group's research director of messaging and collaboration services.

The tighter integration will enable Domino developers to access DB2's data management features and WebSphere's JSP (Java Server Pages) capabilities, the sources said.

Gardner said one question he has about the integration is how accommodating it will be of applications from rival companies.

"If this is an open action, will other Java tools and other J2EE (Java 2 Platform, Enterprise Edition) platforms be able to take advantage of Domino?" he said.

The product integration is part of "the long march for Lotus to absorb into IBM," said Mark Levitt, research director of collaborative computing with IDC.

"Over time, Lotus and its products have become much 'Bluer' than they ever were," Levitt said. "The question is: how quickly will the Lotus products lose their own identity within IBM? For those customers who like dealing directly with Lotus and using Lotus products, that might be a negative thing... In two years, will there even be such an entity as Lotus? I think the chances are yes, as long as there are customers who want that."

Building closer ties between Domino with other key IBM technologies will aid the long-term survival of Lotus's products, both Levitt and Gardner said.

"I think this is a logical step," said Gardner. "Lotus is still an entity and a brand, but WebSphere is the future [of IBM]. Domino won't be leading the charge into the enterprise. WebSphere will."

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