Notes and Domino will be integrated more closely into IBM Workplace through IBM Workplace Collaboration Services. Collaboration Services is IBM's integrated environment. It includes a range of collaborative capabilities or "services", such as e-mail, calendaring, instant messaging, electronic learning, web conferencing, document and web content management.
IBM has also introduced new Workplace development tools and a hosted package that allows organisations to use IBM collaborative software on demand.
The Workplace tools will let developers link Notes and Domino into back-end databases and other enterprise information systems, said IBM.
Back-end database support could boost applications, said Alan Bell of Lotus user group Collaboration. "This will make it easier and faster for programmers to create powerful applications," he said. "Other suppliers seem to be compartmentalising their e-mail solutions, so they just do messaging, whereas Domino is developing into a flexible application platform covering all business processes."
In terms of application development, Notes and Domino developers can now use a range of J2EE and open source Eclipse-based tools to write applications that run under IBM Workplace, IBM said. These include Workplace Tools, Workplace Designer and a rapid application designer called Workplace Data Access.
Some experts have suggested that the greater integration available in Notes and Domino could blur the distinction between the two products: IBM sees Domino more as an application framework on which users can build collaborative applications, and Notes as a messaging application.
Butler Group research analyst Richard Edwards said, "Workplace is embracing some of the Notes technologies, and an extension of the workplace to incorporate Domino functionality. Whether that will lead to the extinguishing of Notes is not clear."
What IBM has yet to do is lay out its plans for the arrival of Microsoft's Longhorn, the next major version of Windows, expected in 2007. Jim Moffat, a founding member of Collaboration, said, "In the back of everyone's mind will be how IBM software will relate to Longhorn. How much clear water is there between what IBM delivers today, and will deliver in 2005-6, and what Microsoft would like to deliver in collaborative tools, portals and rapid application development?"