New Releases Of Lotus Notes/Domino, Security Appliances On Tap

"Collaboration" is the theme tying together many of the products' new capabilities, a point driven home by the orchestra that played onstage at the start of the Lotusphere conference in Orlando Monday, along with the earlier blaring rock music that greeted the show's 7,000 attendees at the morning keynote session.

"It's what Lotus has always been about," Lotus general manager Mike Rhodin said in opening the conference. "Now the rest of the world wants to join us."

Lotusphere attendees also heard a keynote from noted sportscaster Bob Costas who related his career experiences to illustrate the need for IT that helps people identify what's important amongst huge volumes of data " such as sports statistics. "My job is to separate out the important information, the insightful and the useful, from the merely basic factual," he said. "Facts and information alone are not knowledge and truth."

Topping the list of in-progress development projects at Lotus are new releases of Lotus' flagship Notes/Domino software, just six months after the company began shipping Notes/Domino 8.0, the first major upgrade to the e-mail and collaboration platform in years. Next month Lotus will ship Notes/Domino 8.0.1, a maintenance release of the software, and a more substantive release 8.5 later this year.

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While version 8.0 emphasized improvements to the Notes client, 8.5 will be heavy on enhancements to the Domino server. The product will offer improved identity management and authentication features and a new data store system for managing e-mail attachments. The software will be capable of working with alternative directories and will support the Ubuntu Linux and Mac 10.5 "Leopard" operating systems. And a new version of Lotus Domino Designer will provide Web 2.0 development capabilities such as the ability to create mashups of Notes documents, Web services and relational data.

IBM and Lotus are also developing a line of sophisticated security appliances called Lotus Protector based on security technology IBM gained from its October 2006 acquisition of Internet Security Systems. While Notes/Domino provides e-mail security, the new appliances would work with Notes/Domino to provide anti-virus, anti-spam, encryption and security compliance services all along a messaging chain. The solution, for example, could warn when an employee's social security number is being inappropriately used in an e-mail, said Arthur Fontaine, a Lotus software senior marketing manager.

The first Lotus Protector product, an anti-virus/anti-spam tool based on the ISS Proventia Network Mail Security System, will be available by mid-year with other products to follow through 2008 and into 2009. Lotus VARs are expected to be a major sales channel for the security products, Fontaine said.

Also on tap for this year are new releases of the Lotus Quickr content management application and Lotus Connections collaboration software, both of which were first introduced at last year's Lotusphere. Lotus Quickr 8.1 is due in March and Lotus Connections 2.0 will be out in June. A key component of the latter will be a new "atlas for connections" feature, a social network analysis tool for helping users discover links between people. And later this year Lotus will finish integrating Quickr with its FileNet P8 and IBM CM8 enterprise content management systems.

And ready by the end of this month will be a new beta release of Lotus's free suite of desktop productivity tools called Symphony, offering new Lotus Sametime plug-ins and the WebSphere Translation Server, which automatically translates content across multiple languages.