Lotus General Manager Al Zollar said Monday's official decision that the company would embrace J2EE instead of Microsoft .Net was important from many angles.
"People have wanted to know where we're going . . . and we still offer rapid application-development capabilities they can leverage [on this road," Zollar in an interview Monday afternoon after his Lotusphere keynote.
"The other key message is the notion of embedding collaboration making it a feature of applications as opposed to a stand-alone container," he said. Lotus' decision to offer up Domino functions and features as Web services will let service-oriented partners embed those facilities into business scenarios and processes, Zollar said.
The J2EE decision comes as no surprise to those who have watched IBM embrace Java and give Microsoft's .Net the cold shoulder.
Lotus has been down the componentization path before on the client side with little success. Years ago, it offered both ActiveX and Java component applications as a way to combat the Microsoft Office monolith. Both efforts failed.
But Zollar said servers and back-end systems represent a new world not subject to Microsoft's monopolistic practices.
Microsoft .Net is fine for companies, "landlocked in WinTel," Zollar said.
"The world got enamored with Java overall, and we got enamored with client-side Java in ways that turned out to be not realistic," Zollar said. "Server-side Java which has evolved into J2EE has been very successful."
Lotus will unveil various parts of Domino as J2EE-supportive components over time, the company said. But timing and rollouts remained unclear.
"We will take all that capability available inside the collaborative environment and make it available in a compartmentalized way," said Scott Cooper, vice president of Lotus Solutions. "This is a design statement by Lotus. . . . Users will like it because J2EE will not lock them in [to the WinTel architecture."
Some Lotusphere attendees said Lotus' componentized message is noteworthy. "They want you to think of Domino as the old hi-fi which you bought as a big system. Now you will be able to buy knowledge management, mail, collaboration as components, not in a Domino box," said David Marshak, vice president of Patricia Seybold Group, Boston.
Some Lotus partners were enthused. "It shows that Lotus technology is IBM's Web services strategy," said David Via, vice president of technology at Wolcott Systems, a Fairlawn, Ohio-based Lotus business partner.
But others at the show were concerned that Lotus was pitching tighter ties between Lotus Domino to IBM's DB2 database and WebSphere application server at the expense of links to competitive databases and application servers.
"It makes sense for IBM to forge these tight ties to its own software, but I'm not sure it's best for the outside world," said another partner. He added that it's important for Lotus to offer similar integration capabilities with BEA Weblogic application servers and other databases as well, although he acknowledged that IBM's Java support would offer base-level compatibility with other Java-based offerings.