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InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

February 2, 2006

3 Min Read

Continuing my Lotusphere 2006 series, this post explains more about my perspective on the past, present, and likely future of IBM Lotus Domino. 

Domino started as the web-ificiation of the Notes server.  When introduced (as Domino 4.5, in conjunction with Notes 4.5) during late 1996, Domino expanded the Notes server to address web applications and clients (i.e., browsers).  More precisely, the Domino brand was introduced then; the web-ification capability was released earlier in 1996 as a server add-in extension for Notes; the server add-in was code-named Domino, and the Notes team marketing decided, in part due to concerns that Notes was stigmatized as a pre-web product, to create a new and distinct Domino brand for what had previously been known as the Notes server.  That might seem like a questionable decision, nearly a decade later, but the software market was in a radically different phase, ten years ago; it was near the peak of Netscape’s ascent, for example. 

IBM’s summary, The History of Notes and Domino, provides more details on release-specific feature/function additions.  Fast-forwarding to today, many attendees were probably concerned, prior to the Lotusphere 2006 keynote, about Domino’s future.  While much had been said during 2005 about the plans for Hannover, the next major release of the Notes client, IBM hadn’t yet said much about the future of Domino.  IBM’s ability to use DB2 as the underlying storage engine for a subset of Notes/Domino applications, new in Notes/Domino 7.0, was another source of concern about IBM’s strategy for Domino’s future.  The 2005 introduction of Workplace Designer, a application development tool for IBM’s Workplace offering, was also disconcerting to some developers who focused on Domino Designer (the tool used by application developers creating Notes/Domino applications; Domino Designer grew out of the Notes application development model that was, until Notes/Domino 5.0, included with the Notes client), as it appeared IBM was shifting its emphasis from Domino to the newer, WebSphere- and DB2-based Workplace server.

Domino-focused developers and administrators were relieved to learn, at Lotusphere 2006, that the Domino server is still getting as much attention as the Notes client.  The next Domino release, currently referred to as “Domino Next”, and timed to coincide with the Notes Hannover client (due in 2007, after broad beta testing in 2006), will incorporate the following additions:

1.  Server-side support for IBM’s activity-oriented capabilities, such as the Activity Explorer included with Workplace Collaboration Services; Notes Hannover will include a superset of the current Activity Explorer features.

2.  Support for team workspaces, making general-purpose workspace capabilities (discussion forums, wiki-like collaborative content management, and so on) available to both Notes Hannover and browser-based clients.

3.  Document library services, again providing the ability for organizations to use a single server infrastructure for Notes and non-Notes client environments.

4.  Server support for the new composite application model planned for Notes Hannover.

5.  Server-side, dynamic component provisioning for managed clients, including the Notes Hannover client.

6.  Extensive portal capabilities, through the integration of key WebSphere Portal technologies.

Domino also continues to run on a wide range of platforms, including (for Domino 7) IBM AIX, IBM i5/OS (formerly OS/400), IBM z/OS (IBM’s flagship mainframe operating sytem), Linux (for Intel and IBM zSeries systems), Microsoft Windows 2000, Windows 2003, and Sun Solaris (see this IBM data sheet for more details). IBM’s ongoing commitment to multiple platforms is often a pivotal criterion for organizations deciding between IBM and Microsoft communication/collaboration products.

To recap, IBM Lotus Domino, starting as the Notes server, has been the engine behind an incredible variety of communication/collaboration applications since late 1989.  Domino Next, due in 2007, will represent a major milestone for IBM Lotus, as Domino reasserts and expands its role at the center of the IBM Lotus server product family.

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