Wednesday, January 1, 2003

Domino vs. WebSphere: the case for NextGen


By Ron Herardian

In part one of this series, at, we looked at whether the debate about Domino versus WebSphere makes sense. Both products have unique advantages and each is a compelling solution in particular situations: massive scalability for WebSphere, distributed IT infrastructure for Domino. The products also have significant areas of overlap, and there are cases where either product could be used cost-effectively to meet IT customer requirements with appropriate technology. We left off last month on the note that the Domino versus WebSphere debate does not make sense because the products are more complementary than they are in competition with one another.

"When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to look like a nail."

This month I want to drill down into the debate and take a critical look at both sides. Then we'll get on with the business of integration between Domino and WebSphere. In this article I also describe what I hope to see in terms of technology architecture in the NextGen product, which will be unveiled at the Lotusphere 2003 conference in Orlando, Florida, later this month.

Is WebSphere the future?

Companies that have a Domino IT infrastructure in place can maximize the benefits of Domino by building Web applications on Domino. Proponents of Domino don't like to admit that any solution that could potentially be provided using Domino might be a better solution if it were built on WebSphere and vice versa. Nonetheless IBM cannot ignore the application server market and must counter .NET and Sun ONE. Domino is an application server, but that doesn't make it the best strategic application server platform for IBM.

Unlike Domino, WebSphere can compete directly with BEA WebLogic, Microsoft's .NET platform, and Sun's Sun ONE Portal and Application servers. WebSphere can compete and win on its merits in companies where Microsoft Exchange is the preferred email platform while Domino overlaps Exchange and Active Directory.

Domino: built to last

Those who claim Domino represents technology that began in the 1980's and whose time is now past would also have to believe that the business people are not going to use email, calendars, directories, or databases anymore and that IT staff will be replaced by Java developers in the future. The problem with this thinking is that it doesn't put forth any solution to replace whatever it is about Domino that's allegedly obsolete. Maturity of a product does not equal obsolescence.