THE ROAD AHEAD
IBM Workplace is the company’s high-level product strategy for Collaborative Business Environments. Comprised of IBM Lotus Notes/Domino, IBM WebSphere Portal, and IBM WebSphere Everyplace Deployment, IBM’s Workplace offerings are designed to meet the knowledge economy needs of three sets of customers:
- Existing Notes/Domino customers
- Existing WebSphere Portal customers
- New IBM customers
For Notes/Domino customers, the Workplace concept will really come into its own with the launch of the next version of Notes and Domino, code-named “Hannover.” Hannover uses the WebSphere Portal to deliver composite applications without the help of WebSphere Portal. However, Hannover can work with WebSphere to deliver composite applications more efficiently.
For WebSphere Portal customers, IBM promises a Collaborative Business Environment optimized for J2EE-based portal-centric organizations.
Workplace extends a composite framework to IBM’s offerings under what IBM refers to as Workplace services. These include
- Portlet Factory
- Web Content Management
- Enterprise Search
- Electronic Forms
- Real-time Collaboration
- E-mail messaging and calendar and scheduling
- Document management/team spaces
Hannover, the next generation of Notes, makes Notes a true Collaborative Business Environment by converting current Notes, Sametime, and portal applications into composite applications via a significantly enhanced user interface. The Eclipse-based client is server managed and provisioned, and runs not only in Windows, but also on Mac OS and Linux.
As a result, Hannover users benefit from a real-time communications and collaboration platform that supports them on virtually any device (from laptop to handheld device) for everything from e-mail and enterprise applications to locating expertise and knowledge within an organization.
Future Fusion: WebSphere Portal and Notes/Domino Hannover
One quality of the WebSphere Portal is its integration with IBM Lotus Notes in order to provide numerous business tools within a single environment. When Hannover is released (which is to be by 2007), the line between where WebSphere ends and Notes begins will become increasingly blurry. Many applications and features of the two platforms are being adopted by one another, such as Hannover’s SOA model containing both composite applications and a portal model. With functions such as these, Hannover will have portal qualities of its own while also being integrated within WebSphere Portal.
With this said, the question for the future remains: What will separate the two platforms after 2007? The steps IBM is taking to integrate WebSphere Portal with such platforms as Notes are admirable, but will it lead to increased customer confusion once Notes makes the transition to Hannover? One thing that will be certain is, due to the open standards within both platforms, interoperability between functions will be a given. These standards include workflow standards (BPEL), instant messaging standards (SIP), document standards (ODF), and many others. Another feature within Hannover is the heavy emphasis on activity-centric computing methodology. With this new methodology, communication between WebSphere and Hannover will become even more important for a knowledge worker’s success. As both platforms grow, their functions will become richer, but IBM needs to make clear of the distinctions between the two.
To be continued next week. (Click here for part two.)
Jonathan B. Spira is the CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.