While concerns over the company's technological vision arose last year following Lotusphere 2001, Lotus at least in part elucidated its strategy this year by committing to Java as its "platform of the future."
In an effort to move its software to Web services and increased collaborative capabilities, Lotus will support Sun Microsystems' Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) standard. Lotus general manager Al Zollar says Java will allow Lotus to move beyond technology standards such as SOAP and UDDI and take a more architecture-focused approach to Web services.
"We're on the fast track to expose our functions and components as Web services," Zollar said during his keynote Monday at Lotusphere 2002 here. "To give our applications the broadest possible reach we really only had two options: the [Microsoft .Net platform, or J2EE. Now .Net would work okay for customers land-locked in Wintel, but about 90 percent of enterprise customers use more than one server architecture, and J2EE is the only true cross-platform solution."
Lotus' embrace of Java is an obvious choice considering Lotus competes heavily with Microsoft in the messaging market and Lotus' parent company, IBM, is a strong proponent of Java. However, there were some concerns that the addition of Java would complicate Lotus' software and push longtime users and partners away from Domino. Zollar assured the audience during the keynote that Domino would not be abandoned and would play a direct role in Lotus' Java strategy.
At a press conference following the keynote, Zollar said Lotus would work closely around Java with the IBM Software Group and its middleware brands, WebSphere and DB2.
"We see this as a very natural evolution of our industry where we have to build less middleware in order to deliver our collaborative functions if we leverage the middleware from our IBM colleagues," Zollar said.
Lotus also announced the first pre-release version of Lotus Notes and Domino 6, formerly code-named "Rnext," which will be available within the next 30 days. The finished software, which will feature improved mobility and wireless access and tighter integration with IBM products, is scheduled to ship in the third quarter this year.
Zollar told the Lotusphere audience that the company continues to extend its leadership in the messaging market, citing a June report from IDC that said Lotus was the number one provider of integrated collaborative environments, with 50 percent of the market revenue and 30 percent of the market share.
"Software was one of the bright stars in IBM's latest report," Zollar said. "Lotus software finished the year with some great results and we enter 2002 with strong momentum."