IBM credits open framework for speeding Notes updates

Just six months after releasing Notes/Domino 8, Lotus officials say the inclusion of the open client framework is helping them update Notes at a much faster pace.

The company will ship Notes 8.0.1 next month, but it is not the timing that has changed, rather it's the depth of updates. Typically, the first updates to a new release come in a six-month timeframe but only include a compilation of fixes, according to Lotus officials.

With the 8.0.1 release, IBM is adding features such as plug-ins for Quickr document libraries, and widget functionality for connecting to corporate and other data.

“How were we able to go so fast?” says Alistair Rennie, vice president of development and technical support for Lotus. “We are getting all the benefits from the open platform.”

While flexibility and speed of development are positives, the downside could eventually become complexity.

For now, however, IBM Lotus is keeping it simple. Rennie says the Live Text and My Widget enhancements that Lotus plans to ship with 8.0.1 are pretty straightforward extensions to the Notes 8 client, which is built on top of Lotus Expeditor and Eclipse.

Expeditor, formerly called the Workplace Client Technology, and Eclipse, let Notes 8 act as a client for XML-based services, composite applications made up of multiple services, and applications that incorporate XML-based interfaces.

Things could get more sophisticated midyear when IBM ships Lotus Mashups, which will include a browser-based client tool for executing mashups and a tool for users to mash together small application widgets. There will also be a tool for IT to build widgets that access corporate data.

The same open client framework used in Notes is being spread throughout the Lotus software portfolio and is already being used for Sametime 8.

“We are starting to see a lot of partners pick up on that [openness],” Rennie says.

SAP is one example. The ERP vendor and IBM unveiled a partnership to deliver a joint project called Atlantic that will integrate Notes and SAP’s Business Suite. Atlantic, slated to ship by the end of the year, will present data from SAP within the Notes interface. The first two modules will allow user to request leave and complete expense report processing.

“This is a sophisticated app that ties real enterprise data to the Notes client,’ said Rennie. “The reason we can do that so elegantly is because of the open platform.”

Rennie says IBM plans to roll out 8.0.1 to IBM employees in the first half of 2008.

The 8.0.1 release also features some server improvements that will reduce I/O bandwidth usage by 30%, cut 20% from CPU usage and slim down mail storage by 35% using better compression and storage management.

In the 8.5 release, which Lotus originally said would ship mid-year but is now not mentioning dates, the server will get further upgrades including another 35% savings on storage by eliminating filing of duplicate attachments, improved Notes ID file management and the ability to use any directory in place of the Domino directory. (Learn more about Messaging products from our Messaging Buyer's Guide.)

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