Lotus bets heavy on Java

ORLANDO, Fla. – At the opening general session of Lotusphere 2002 here on Monday, Al Zollar, general manager of software for IBM Software Group made several announcements regarding the future of Lotus software during his keynote address.

Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) 1.3 has been chosen as what Zollar described as “Lotus’ platform for the future.” Although Lotus has committed to Sun Microsystem Inc.’s platform for development, Zollar claimed that the company is “not excluding” Microsoft Corp’s .Net and will be integrating with it on Web services while building on J2EE.

Zollar also announced that a pre-release beta version of Lotus Notes and Domino 6 will be available within the next several weeks, and that the company expects to ship the product in the third quarter of the year.

The announcement, along with the promise of a tenth annual Lotusphere in 2003 have had the effect of quelling Lotus’ customers’ fears about the company’s identity being swallowed up by IBM. Zollar explained that while Lotus will remain a distinct brand in the software group, the company will work closely with IBM in continuing development.

“Almost everyone has been dying to leverage IBM,” Zollar said. “Lotus has it on its doorstep, but hasn’t leveraged it in the past. We believe in upward compatibility for our customers – we’re not about abandonment.”

The Lotus strategy is so evolutionary that the company is using its annual Lotusphere conference to introduce users to its basic concepts. But with Microsoft attacking the same component-based strategy, there is little time to waste getting started.

Beverly DeWitt, senior manager for new business development for Lotus, said enterprises should start focusing on skill development such as proficiency with J2EE, Java Server Pages (JSP), Web services and XML.

Lotus is including a JSP tag library in Domino 6, which should be released in August or September of this year. “That should be a head start in learning JSP tags,” said DeWitt.

She says enterprises also should begin to align Domino developers with internal J2EE teams.

DeWitt said IT executives this year will begin to see Lotus become “more solutions-focused, not product-driven.” Those changes in Lotus software will soak into the product set over time and will eventually transform all Lotus technology into a set of components for J2EE.

Lotusphere continues in Orlando until January 31.

(With files from IDG News Service)

Lotus in Cambridge, Mass., is at http://www.lotus.com

Lotusphere is online at http://www.lotus.com/home.nsf/welcome/lotuspherehome