IBM Lotus To Unveil 'Mega Server,' Rich Workplace Client

At Lotusphere next week, IBM plans to showcase a new "mega server" bundle featuring its J2EE-based application server, portal server, and content management and collaboration capabilities.

January 23, 2004

2 Min Read
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At Lotusphere next week, IBM plans to showcase a new "mega server" bundle featuring its J2EE-based application server, portal server, and content management and collaboration capabilities.

Dubbed with the catchy name of "IBM Software Solution For On-Demand Workplace," the server can be dropped into existing accounts alongside Lotus Domino to allow users to start doing portal work, said sources familiar with the plans.

The new server creates a two-track future for the customer: one with Domino and one without, said a source close to the company. Pricing will be about $400 per user. A spokesman for IBM's Lotus Software group declined to comment.

Executives at the show are expected to reaffirm their commitment to Notes Domino and the "rich client" strategy they previewed last fall, as well as talk up a future that comprises both an open-source Eclipse-based client and legacy Notes-based client. Eclipse is an open-source application development framework espoused by IBM, Borland Software and others.

In addition, a new Workplace client will embed its own relational database using Cloudscape technology that IBM purchased with Informix two years ago. That would put a lightweight Java-based RDBMS on the front end and a full-function DB2 database at the server, and standard SyncML technologies would enable synchronization between the two."The idea is to have the majority of application logic on the server but still have a data cache locally -- an open-source cache that is Eclipse-oriented -- and use standard synchronization to do the back-and-forth work," said a source.

Last November, IBM's Lotus Software group outlined the Domino and Notes road map, reaffirming -- after casting in doubt -- the company's commitment to the Domino and Notes product lines over time. The group also detailed the need for rich clients to do much of the heavy lifting, for which browser front ends are underpowered (see story for more on the Lotus product road map).

"They're putting serious money back into those [Notes and Notes Designer clients] projects," said one long-time Lotus partner. At Lotusphere, "listen to what they don't say. They won't talk about pushing people off Notes or onto an Eclipse-based replacement. Instead, they'll talk about an alternative Eclipse-based client," said one Lotus partner.

With the new bundle, IBM Lotus aims to pre-empt Longhorn, Microsoft's next-generation Windows client and server. The Longhorn client is available in early beta now, with full beta due out late this year. Microsoft hasn't yet discussed ship dates for the server.

In this "browser-plus" worldview, IBM is doing a lot of what Microsoft is promising in its time frame for Longhorn and its next-gen Yukon database, but IBM can support a Linux client. They are trying to "get the best of the browser experience plus local processing via Java runtime and also do data sync," a source said.Article appears courtesy of CRN.

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