IBM Ships Lotus Notes, Domino 8

Could the 8th time be the charm?

Everyone will soon find out now that IBM  is shipping Lotus Notes and Domino 8 to a mob of enterprise customers clamoring for more functionality, custom applications, Web 2.0 features like mash-ups and, most important, a snazzier and more intuitive user interface.

While Notes and Domino 8 deliver all that, what really separates this version from the previous seven is Lotus Expeditor, an application development platform that gives users and independent software vendors (ISV)  free reign to build, manage and deliver all kinds of applications from their Notes dashboard.

Bringing this level of flexibility and functionality to the Notes environment marks a dramatic shift for IBM’s flagship e-mail software and could be the first step toward transitioning longtime Notes/Domino customers to its more lucrative WebSphere Portal Server and software.

“Over a very long period of time, IBM will encourage their Domino customers to invest in the WebSphere portal server to maximize their Domino infrastructure,” Matt Cain, an analyst at Gartner, told “They’ll have Expeditor and the portal server working with Domino in a transitory strategy where companies can preserve their investments in Domino and then carry them over into the Expeditor/Portal Server world.”

Lotus Notes 8 encapsulates all the code that is Lotus Notes within the Eclipse RCP (Rich Client Platform), providing a template-drive design on an open-source, Java-based platform. The open, plug-in-based architecture allows users to access a variety of applications, including, for example, Cisco System’s suite of Internet telephony applications, from the Notes client.

The development model for Lotus Notes 8 mash-ups, which IBM calls composite applications, parallels IBM’s WebSphere Portal applications. Instead of using a Web browser to connect to the WebSphere Portal, the Lotus Notes 8 client allows users to build these mash-ups and support the interactions between multiple applications on a standalone basis.

“Notes and Domino 8 does have more functionality and better management features,” Cain said. “But that’s pretty hum-drum stuff. However, combining the Notes client with the Expeditor client is the real news and is absolutely the right move for IBM right now.”

IBM said more than 30,000 business customers served as guinea pigs and sounding boards for this version, providing the feedback it hopes to use in its quest to regain market share from Microsoft’s  formidable Outlook and Exchange franchise.

Gartner estimates Microsoft’s Outlook and Exchange software is used in approximately 62 percent of all corporate seats compared to just 26 percent for Notes and Domino.

The Radicati Group, an IT market research firm based in Palo Alto, Calif., in June reported that roughly 101 million of the 845 million active corporate e-mail accounts use Notes/Domino software compared to more than 400 million e-mail accounts running Outlook.

“Exchange and Outlook are, for all intents and purposes, dominating the market,” said Matt Anderson, an analyst at The Radicati Group. “[Notes and Domino 8] is a strong offering and IBM still has a loyal customer base, but it’s tough to compete with Microsoft in this space.”

Penny Scharfman, IBM’s program director for Lotus Notes and Domino products, said IBM isn’t ready to cede to Microsoft the lion’s share of the market, which is projected to grow to more than 1.5 billion corporate e-mail accounts by 2011. She said IBM is actually gaining on Microsoft.

“We have totally turned that around,” she told “We’re maintaining a very strong second place. We’ll win some of the competitive accounts (versus Microsoft). What it’s going to take is for us to show how serious we are and how committed we are to the long term.”

IDC issued a report this month that illustrates Notes/Domino increased its share of the integrated collaborative environments market last year to 40 percent, up from 39 percent in 2005. Outlook/Exchange’s share of the $2.4 billion market slipped to 51 percent from 53 percent over that same period.

Lotus Notes 8 debuts with a suggested retail price of $101 per client, IBM said, roughly the same price Notes and Domino 7 debuted at in September 2005.

Scharfman said that while the WebSphere portal software is “a great product” she said Notes/Domino is just fine as a standalone offering.

“Our vision is give our customers choice,” she said. “Portal Server introduces more programming choices. Would I try to help them make a choice? Absolutely.”

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