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Lotus chief defines imminent battle plan

Lotus’ Bob Picciano to spell out how new collaboration tools will battle Microsoft’s Office SharePoint Server

By , Network World
November 17, 2008 12:08 AM ET

Network World - Integration of traditional on-premises Notes-based collaboration, new unified communications tools,  Symphony productivity applications, content management, Web-based services and the potential to mash it all together with new-fangled development tools and social networking innovations pouring out of IBM's research labs are just a few of the challenges facing IBM's Lotus Software division chief, Bob Picciano.

Seven months into his new job, the 21-year IBM veteran, who started in research and spent time as a technical assistant to former CEO Lou Gerstner, will take his integration pitch to the people in January when he stands up for the first time at Lotusphere as the leader of IBM's Lotus software division. In a year with no new major Notes release to show off, Picciano needs to sell users on integrating pieces of the Lotus portfolio and catching the Web and Enterprise 2.0 wave.

"It seems like this is one of those occasions where things are finally coming together," says Picciano. "We are the collaboration innovator because we have been preparing," he says, acknowledging Lotus' efforts back to the days when groupware was king.

First up is delivering just ahead of Lotusphere the 8.5 version of Notes and its new compression technology, Notes ID file management, developer tools and integration with Lotus Connections social networking software.

Picciano will highlight the importance of the "Notes 8 portal client,"  built on top of Lotus Expeditor and Eclipse, which provides the interface for Web-based services, mashups, and applications such as Sametime and Quickr.

Also on tap for 2009 is a new version of Sametime (IM/Web conferencing) that uses Web 2.0 interfaces to expose unified communication (UC) services.

Lotus also plans to flesh out Lotus Connections 2.0 and Lotus Mashups, an IT tool for combining widgets into applications.
Picciano also said he will show off XPages, a feature of Domino Designer that ships with 8.5 and will radically change the way Notes applications are built and will usher those apps into the Web 2.0 era. In addition, XPages will help developers convert existing applications to the Web 2.0 model.

"We don't have all the answers there yet, but we see it as key to the opportunity," says Picciano.

He will need all those weapons to face what is likely his greatest competitive challenge -- Microsoft's Office SharePoint Server, which has become a billion-dollar juggernaut, a development platform much like Notes and a middleware destination for IT.

A Forrester report published  this month lines up Notes against SharePoint and concludes that Microsoft finally has a development platform to rival Lotus.

"Notes has this basic collaboration, basic content management, this application development environment that includes a user-accessible application environment, and those things have made Notes unique for some time," says Rob Koplowitz, the Forrester analyst who wrote the report. "But now there is another player in town with SharePoint."

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