IBM To Lay out Notes, WorkPlace OS Plans

IBM will use its annual Lotusphere conference next week as a stage to demonstrate progress made on its next generation of Lotus Notes/Domino, called Project Hannover; to formally unveil is Workplace OS 2.6 software; and to show a renewed commitment to Apple's Mac OS 10 and new Intel-based hardware.

Company officials are expected to stress that the Hannover client, like its Workplace OS client, will be server-managed and easily configured on the fly from the server as well as being more portable across different environments.

"They learned from WorkPlace and are extending server-managed clients to Hannover in 2007. This should simplify deployment issues around Notes, which has so many flavors. It also gives them a chance to extend Notes more deeply into a Linux environment," says one source familiar with the company's plans.

IBM hopes to position the server-managed clients of both Hannover and WorkPlace OS as more attractive alternatives to Microsoft's upcoming Vista and Office 12 combination on the desktop, due late this year, according to sources. IBM officials will claim the thin-client approach of their products will not require expensive upgrades to desktop systems that Microsoft's offerings will.

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"IBM will suggest they can run Hannover and Workplace on today's PCs and there is no need for big honking systems with lots of memory and storage. It also takes a big headache away from administrators," sources say.

Hannover is expected to go into beta testing by midyear, with delivery sometime in the first half of 2007, according to sources.

As a longer-term strategy, IBM officials are expected to offer details about how and why managed clients for both the new WorkPlace Collaboration Server 2.6 and Hannover have strategic implications for its overarching service-oriented architecture (SOA) strategy over the next few years. The company plans to position these managed clients as front ends for all of its SOA and composite applications.

"They have decided a managed client, especially Workplace 2.6, will work in concert with their portal server as the preferred front end for all SOA applications. This is a pretty big statement of direction that reflects some new thinking on their part about development and deployment," according to sources.

Along with showing off Project Hannover, the company will demonstrate a Notes client-based suite designed to work with SAP. According to those familiar with the offering, the product is seen as a counter to Mendocino, the client-server based project that ties SAP's ERP system tightly to Microsoft Office.

In a somewhat unexpected move, IBM will offer support for Mac OS 10.4 operating system as well as support for Apple's upcoming dual-core Intel-based desktop systems. The commitment is seen by some as a warming of the IBM-Apple relationship, which had turned somewhat colder last year when Apple decided to dump the IBM-developed PowerPC chip that was fueling its iMacs.

"IBM is over the fact Apple walked away from the PowerPC. They are thinking this support of Apple is a good hedge against Microsoft's Vista, which could open up a new era of cooperation between IBM and Apple," according to sources.

IBM is also expected to take the wraps off a new version of its Sametime messaging product that company officials will demonstrate working seamlessly with its Hannover and WorkPlace clients. Company officials are expected to demonstrate the improved audio and video integration capabilities of version 7.5, expected to be delivered by mid-2006.

"Being an Eclipse plug-in and with a new SIP stack, they will make it clear is a good platform for ISVs and VARs can customize," sources say.

Lotus officials declined to comment on next week's announcements.