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Lotus taking bigger IBM role

Subsidiary Lotus will play a higher profile in Big Blue's stable of business software.

IBM (IBM) is lining up its subsidiary Lotus Development to play a higher profile in Big Blue's stable of business software.

At an IBM software strategy briefing today in San Francisco, Lotus announced a new family of Web servers that bring a buy-what-you-need approach to the company's server software lineup.

The new Web server software, code-named Lotus Go, includes a set of options that can be combined to build applications that run the gamut from low-end groupware for small businesses, to sophisticated e-commerce packages for large companies.

Lotus has positioned Go as a base Web server package that can be combined with new messaging and transaction software or the company's existing database software and Domino Web-enabled groupware package. Domino, introduced last December, combines the company's Notes groupware with tools to transform Notes databases for Web use.

The new products include:

  • Lotus Go, a new Web server which supports common Internet protocols, such as HTTP, SSL version 3, Secure HTTP, SNMP, NSAPI, ICAPI, IIOP, and CGI. The server also supports application development using the Java language.
  • Lotus Domino Mail, a new messaging engine that includes some key groupware components including calendaring, and scheduling and real-time conferencing.
  • Lotus Domino, the company's existing full-service groupware product that also comes with add-on software to do a slew of online commerce and publishing tasks.
  • IBM Transaction Series, a new server for high-volume e-commerce applications. The software includes IBM CICS Gateway for Java, CICS Common Client, Transarc DCE Encina Lightweight (DE-Light) gateway, and Internet DE-Light Java Client for building transactional applications.
  • IBM DB2 Universal Database, a revamped version of the database, enabled to handle multimedia content.

    The base Go server can be combined with any of the server packages. Lotus did not announce pricing for the software.

    The new software lineup may make Lotus's groupware more appealing to smaller businesses, said Tom Austin, an analyst with Gartner Group. He added that Lotus is rapidly becoming "a critical component supplier to IBM" on the Internet front.

    But the new software may also cloud Lotus' already confusing product lineup. "It broadens their potential appeal," Austin said of the Go announcement. "Although, it might confuse their existing customers."

    The company also introduced new development packages:

  • Lotus Notes Designer for Domino includes Notes Global Designer for creating sites in languages other than English, along with JavaBeans support. It will go to beta in June and ship in the third quarter, the company said.
  • Lotus Go Pro, includes NetObjects' Fusion and Lotus BeanMachine for Java. Developers can use the BeanMachine to create Java applets with Java code or HTML and insert them onto a page using NetObjects' Fusion without writing any Java code. The package will ship in June.

    The company has also put a variety of IBM and Lotus connecting technology in one place to help developers tie together their back-end and online databases. The development tool packages are bundled with Lotus Domino.Connect, software that provides a way for Notes data to be accessed via corporate intranets and the Net; IBM CICS Gateway for Java, IBM Net.Data for Web-enabled database requirements, and IBM eNetwork Host On-Demand connectivity software.