Workplace, and groupware’s future

As Justin highlighted yesterday, Russell Beattie recently posted about IBM Lotus Workplace which is interesting given his background (he's 'blogged before about how he started off with Lotus Notes, and often thinks about applications using the form / view paradigm).

Now, Russell is fairly positive about the move towards Workplace, and thus Websfear-hosted J2EE collaborative applications. Although I think his comment "if I can just plug Notes capability into any J2EE server, it would be an awesome thing to have" is well-placed, it's overly optimistic. IBM have an extensive and expensive product line that comes under the Websphere umbrella. I can't see how they're going to be inclined to make things easy for non-Websphere J2EE engines to link up with the Workplace technology. I imagine it's going to become heavily meshed with portlets and the like.

But what about the little fellas?

And what about the non-M$ shops? OK, so IBM claim "multi-platform support" for the Workplace product line, but is it really?

Supported clients
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional with Service Pack 3
  • Microsoft Windows 98
Supported Internet browsers
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer, Version 6.0
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer, Version 5.5 with Service Pack 2
  • Netscape Navigator, Versions 4.7 and 6 (for Internet mailbox portlet in WebSphere Portal)

Hmm. It'll be interesting to see how Workplace and Domino Express, pan out. So anyway, I carried on surfing around, and was reminded of Volker's incisive post about email, collaboration, and smaller organisations. One of the comments in the thread pointed to a new groupware solution called the REBOL Internet operating System (IOS). Now this is something for "the little guys" and to me, epitomises what groupware is all about: groups, not multi-national monolithic corporations! So far so good, but what about REBOL's system requirements?

In addition to supporting Windows 95, 98, NT, ME, 2000, and XP, IOS runs on a wide variety of Linux systems, BSD, Solaris, SGI, AIX, HP/UX, and more. We plan to support Macintosh OS/X. It is possible to support Win CE devices, Sharp Linux PDA, Sony Playstation, Nintendo systems, and XBox if a large order is dependent upon them.

Now that's multi-platform support!


  1. Now that's not fair Ben -- you are taking the 1.0 of Lotus Workplace -Messaging- and extrapolating that to be representative of the Workplace platform support going forward.

    It's not.

    1.1 will add Linux support at both client and server, and Linux support on the server as well. The major platform release, coming in 2004, will add a heck of a lot more -- in part with the "rich client" but also just for browser support as well.

    It takes time to build up a new platform, but the track record here is obviously strong with the existing Lotus products. We'll get there.Ed Brill#
  2. The thing is Ed, people want this stuff now. There's a real groundswell, particularly in Europe, of those no longer prepared to go down the Win32 route for their servers, and even their clients.

    Whilst I agree that Notes and Domino have an excellent track record with regards the server platform, I'd venture to say that things have just gone backward with the client — there's only basic Mac client support now, and no Linux client, nor will there be. Forget economics and what have you, there are other products out there that don't limit organisations like this.

    The idea of Java-based products is that they are cross-platform. I just take issue with IBM's definition of "multi-platform" — a pretty narrow selection compared with other multi-platform products, you have to agree (I'm talking principally about the client here). i thought lessons would have been learned from the first iteration of Sametime, with its reliance on the MS JVM

    Anyway, here's to 2004 and on!Ben Poole#
  3. I don't think immediate relief is needed -- I think directional architecture would be sufficient. Why? Many organisations (note the proper spelling) are locked into three year Software Assurance contracts with MS anyway. So it's when those RENEWALS come up that they will be looking to move away -- which means doing the evaluations now. I get that.
    Domino Web Access in 6.5 provides a much richer level of support for Linux clients than ever before -- give us some credit for that. and as has been discussed, look to hints like our work for the Eclipse framework as where things will go in the future.Ed Brill#
  4. And I thought …just wait until our next release! was a Microsoft thing. Shenoy#
  5. touché ….
    these are new products, not next releases…but point taken.Ed Brill#
  6. Point taken Ed. I guess the thing is, Workplace is touted as being the future of Notes and Domino: both very mature products.

    So people like me don't regard Workplace as a "virginal version 1.00 product": it has a legacy, part of which is the predominantly Wintel-based platform.

    I'd like to see that get shaken up, especially given how long we've waited for iNotes on Linux ;-) Ben Poole#
  7. Ed (3), while it's great that Linux is cracking the nod for Workplace and the like, it still leaves those of us happily married to the client in a tight position.

    We all understand that it's not practical to port the client to Linux, but a number of people have mentioned the possibility of IBM helping the WINE project, and yet I've read (admittedly unsubstantiated) comments that IBM have been less than keen to help out.

    Does IBM have any official or unofficial position on the possibility of lending a hand to the WINE project to make it easier to run Notes on Linux that way… even if it's an 'unsupported' option?

    I'm sure there are plenty of us SMB types who'd be piloting with Linux desktops within the month if there was a viable way to get the client running stably. Us smaller companies have smaller IT budgets, and when Notes is forcing me to use Windows, while other platforms don't, then that becomes part of the Notes TCO. I'm in no rush to migrate from Notes, and anything I can do to pay less to Microsoft and spend more on other software or skills, helps.Colin Pretorius#

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