In part one of this posting I gave my overall impression that IBM Lotus has done a good job of bringing some excitement to the Notes/Domino camp. Here are some thoughts I had from the presentations and my conversation with IBM VP John Allesio.
On the SOA front I was pleased by the way in which the new services (Quickr and Connections) have been architected for consumption. The usefulness of collaboration is enhanced when it can be used in context with applications, data, or content it is referring to. This contextual collaboration requires being able to blend the collaboration services into existing applications and interfaces rather than forcing the user to switch to a dedicated interface. The connectors built into Quickr (for accessing RSS, blogs, content libraries, etc.) are a good example of building services meant to be consumed. This is still an issue I have with SharePoint, which is currently marketed and demoed as the center of its collaboration universe rather than a participant in other non-Microsoft applications.
WebSphere Portal 6.0 was also discussed, but it seems like sideshow at a Lotus conference. While WPS is becoming increasingly important to Notes/Domino customers, it still appeals to a different set of customers. WPS seems to me to be an incremental update and technology refresh, including features such as a template library, fly out menus and navigation, drag and drop, a portlet palette, and look and feel enhancements. But there was a bit of marketing spin mentioned twice that rubbed me the wrong way: “Integration at the glass”. If all I want is to integrate at the glass I’ll get an open source portal like JBoss Portal. If you’re just looking for web UI stitching with some personalization and an implementation of the standards, then open source is a lot cheaper than WebSphere Portal. But most large corporations need a full size portal product (or whatever similar technology is embedded in their superplatform). The value you get out of the full size portal product is the back-end integration into enterprise applications and infrstructure services, which are not “at the glass”. But enough ranting on that …
My teammates have commented quite a bit on the collaboration and social software additions in Connections and Quickr, so I’ll save a few calories by not retyping what they said. But I’d encourage you to see the blogs of Mike Gotta (multiple postings), Peter O’Kelly (multiple postings), and Karen Hobert for some great insight.
I am interested to see how the strategy for Quickr evolves in regards to being a SharePoint competitor. IBM was ready with a list of things Quickr can do that SharePoint can’t (DB2 data stores, works on more platforms and through more access mechanisms, etc.), but there was no comment on whether that list is supposed to explain why it is a different product category than SharePoint (apples and oranges as it were), or a better product in the same category (a better and shinier apple). The pricing (which hasn’t been announced yet) will be a big clue into how directly they wish to compete against Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. Hey, I’m a capitalist – I enjoy competition and think the end users of Quickr and SharePoint would both benefit from direct competition. But my prediction is that any direct comparisons will be played down and a safer – if less fun – path will prevail.
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