Lotusphere: IBM To Promote Collaboration With New Wares

At Lotusphere 2005 in Orlando, Fla., the company will show off Workplace 2.5 and its new Activity Explorer. This module lists a user's projects on the screen, each represented by an application icon. A project can be launched with an instant message or by clicking on the PowerPoint or Word icon. Users also can drag and drop the icon on to a buddy list member, giving that person permission to view and/or edit, IBM Lotus executives have said.

IBM also will reveal details about the new Workplace Designer and updated Domino Designer development tools, as well as a point release upgrade to WebSphere Portal Server.

The Notes 7 client and Domino 7 server betas are nearing feature-complete phase, said Ken Bisconti, vice president of workplace, portal and collaboration services at IBM. Those releases will offer tighter integration of the Workplace technologies the company has been demonstrating for the past year.

The plethora of brands points out a conundrum: In IBM's attempt to bring ahead both the IBM WebSphere and Lotus Domino lines, as well as the new melding of those that Workplace represents, many customers and partners remain bewildered about migrations.

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"Customers are unsure when to use what and whether the products are complementary or competitive," said Jeff Cook, infrastructure consultant at Venture SystemSource, a partner based in Melville, N.Y.

And some observers point out that while IBM espouses open source with its backing of Linux and Apache, it has yet to make a statement on other aspects of that movement.

Lotus and IBM led in collaboration technologies not long ago, "so how is it that they don't even have on their road map any mention of [blogs] or RSS, or a quick and lightweight way to do collaboration, sharing and publishing threaded discussions," one analyst asked. IBM's threaded discussions require Notes and Domino, and "that costs a fortune vs. RSS," he said.