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Goyal takes Lotus helm

ADT’s Jack Vaughan spoke recently with IBM’s new Lotus group head, Ambuj Goyal (below). He talked to us from his offices in Sommers, N.Y.

Q: Ambuj, as part of your IBM app server efforts you were familiar with Lotus strategy. What is different now that you are in charge here?
A: When you become manager, you are going to have to execute to the numbers. Of course, the strengths here are obvious. We have the most innovative set of people in Lotus. We invented groupware. We brought to the fore the whole concept of integrated collaborative environments. I see a lot of ideas, capabilities.

The challenge for me was how to make sure that these ideas addressed the needs of the customers that exist today, so we can make them strong products. And the challenge existed mostly in driving the market, driving the channels, driving the sales, and having the right team in place to make sure that all things were put in place both for the base products and the business-savvy offerings. That’s a challenge that I have addressed. [But] in terms of direction, strategy, products and innovation, it’s the same thing we were executing before day one.

Q: How do WebSphere and Domino relate? What are the steps that IBM is recommending to Lotus customers as to how they integrate WebSphere?
A: It’s a great question. I would like you to take a look at it not from a technology perspective, but from a customer value perspective. Don’t think WebSphere and Domino, but think about what users like to use in terms of collaborative environments. They want to get access to instant messaging, electronic mail, learning documents, workflow and business processes via either a rich client experience, a Web browser experience or on a mobile device. That is what we are trying to get done with Lotus Workplace [and related server-side offerings]. It delivers functionality into whatever the customer chooses, in whatever mode they are working in.

So, for example, it will deliver to Notes clients, rich applications, rich calendaring, rich mail ... everything. It will deliver to Web browsers, offering instant messaging as well as e-mail and calendaring. And from a client perspective, users are happy to use either rich client, or another client, or a device. That’s what the direction is. We will bring every Notes customer, every browser customer, every mobile customer and every device customer forward into the world of collaborative business processes, as well as collaboration based on individual capabilities like e-mail and instant messaging.

Q: When you talk with Notes developers, do you tell them that they’re going to become Java developers or that they’re going to become some type of RAD developer?
A: To the Notes developer, we tell them to continue to use Domino Designer if you want to continue to deliver into the Notes client world only. On the other hand, if you want to deliver your application in the Notes client as well as a Web browser, we recommend Domino Designer for WebSphere Studio, which delivers applications into both the Notes client world and the browser world.

The advantage is that today, our business partners have good users who have Notes clients as their customers. There are 100 million users, [but] they would like to get to 200 and 300 million users for their application. Domino Designer for WebSphere Studio can now deliver the applications to the Notes client as well as to the Web browser or the portal client.

Next fall, we will rename some tools as WebSphere Designer that deliver both to the Notes client as well as to the portal world and the browser world and the device world. Skills will need to be changed. I’ve been talking to the Domino Designer community, user groups and everywhere about this.

Q: And what is their reaction?
A: Their reaction is that it extends their value. In fact, the business partners who are using our environment love it because to be integrated with the Domino world, they are forced to use two different tools, one for WebSphere and one for Domino, and then do the hard work to integrate.

Having a common tool so that the delivery on the Notes client or the Web browser or the portal world extends that opportunity [makes] ISVs very pleased with the direction that we are moving. I do business partner calls to make sure that they understand that the word needs to get out to everybody. I am also doing calls with the user groups to make sure that people understand where we are headed.

About the Author

Jack Vaughan is former Editor-at-Large at Application Development Trends magazine.

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