Beyond a big maintenance release in February and two later upgrades, IBM is planning a new release of Lotus Domino/Notes for 2004 that will act as a migration path to the NextGen architecture based on WebSphere and DB2. Meanwhile, the first two products in the NextGen family -- a lightweight e-mail system and a learning management offering -- are slated for release this year. Domino/Notes administrators won't be left stranded, though, IBM officials maintained.
In the intensely competitive ICE (integrated collaborative environment) market, Domino/Notes already holds the worldwide lead over Microsoft Exchange, according to numbers from IDG. "We have reasserted our dominance with R6," contended Dean Marsh, IBM's director of messaging solutions.
More than 1,000 companies are registered users of R6, the latest release, including giants like Campbells Soup, Air Canada and Deutsche Bank. Why, then, is IBM adding a second e-mail product?
"There shouldn't be any cannibalization," remarked Tim Kounadis, senior marketing manager for IBM Lotus Software. Notes will continue to be geared to "knowledge workers," while the new e-mail product will be aimed at "underserved or deskless workers" in places such as retail stores and the factory floor.
"These are users who have casual e-mail needs -- those who don't do a lot of calendaring and scheduling," added Marsh, during the annual Lotusphere show. "We can identify about 50 million seats."
Novell, the third place player in the ICE race with its GroupWise suite, also offers a lighter weight e-mail product. Novell's NetMail is used in academic environments such as the University of Kentucky, as well as in the corporate space.
Lotus's product, though, will compete not with Novell's NetMail but rather with SendMail and Critical Path's software, according to Marsh. As IBM sees it, some organizations will use Notes in conjunction with Lotus's as yet unnamed new product, which now goes by the working title "NextGen Mail."
NextGen Mail is slated to enter public beta on February 1, with general availability in April. Initially, the system will run on AIX and Microsoft Windows 2000. In a second release anticipated for the third quarter, Linux support will be added along with limited calendaring. Later this year, Lotus will spell out a strategy for adding instant messaging (IM) to the new mail product, Marsh said.
NextGen Mail will be managed mainly through the WebSphere Application Server Management Console. Administrators, though, will also be able to perform tasks such as user adds and changes through a choice of either Domino Administrator or Domino Web Administrator. "You'll be able to do look-ups from the last session through Domino Directory on LDAP," Kounadis added.