IBM Merges Lotus K-station With WebSphere

IBM Corp. is merging Lotus Development Corp.’s K-station enterprise portal builder with its WebSphere Portal Sever, the company said. IBM is the parent company of Lotus.

IBM plans to release an interoperability bundle in October that will link K-station and WebSphere Portal Sever, according to Scott Eliot, Lotus’ director of knowledge management products. The two products will be fully combined and available for purchase in the first quarter of 2002 under the WebSphere Portal Sever brand name, he said.

The decision was announced at IBM’s Solutions conference for developers in San Francisco, which was held earlier this month.

Lotus’ existing K-station clients will receive the interoperability bundle and new WebSphere Portal Sever upgrade for no additional charge, Eliot said. He estimated that about 60 companies are currently using K-station, with tens of thousands of end-user deployments. IBM does not break out user figures for WebSphere Portal, according to a spokesman.

K-station is a key element in Lotus’ Knowledge Discovery System, which also incorporates the Lotus Discovery Server (formerly code-named “Raven”), a tool intended to uncover links between people, content, and documents throughout an organization. The Lotus Discovery Server currently works only in tandem with K-station, but Eliot said a stand-alone version will be available in October.

Next year, when K-station becomes fully integrated into WebSphere Portal Sever, the Lotus Knowledge Discovery System will survive as a brand, with the package including the Discovery Server and WebSphere Portal Sever instead of K-station, Eliot said.

K-station is currently priced at US$48,000 per processor or US$120 per user. WebSphere Portal Sever is slightly more expensive, costing US$60,000 per processor, with no per-user pricing option. Pricing between the two will be “normalized” and announced in October, Eliot said.

News of K-station’s planned merge with WebSphere Portal Sever comes on the heels of another IBM-Lotus product tie-in. IBM and Lotus said that the next version of Lotus’ Domino collaboration and messaging software will feature deeper integration with IBM’s WebSphere Application Server and DB2 Universal Database.

IBM debuted WebSphere Portal Server in March, incorporating some of Lotus’ knowledge management and collaboration software into the new application.

That overlap between IBM’s product and Lotus’ caused customer confusion, Eliot said.

“There are a lot of motivating reasons for doing this. We had some of the same customers interested in both products, but they weren’t going to buy both,” Eliot said. “We had some customers that were kind of frozen, and didn’t know which to buy.”

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