Sunday, December 1, 2002

Domino vs. WebSphere


By Ron Herardian

One of the most hotly debated topics today in Lotus software circles is that of Domino versus WebSphere. Some argue that the products are essentially unrelated: they have different features, different development tools and developer communities, different customers, and different uses. Others argue that Domino represents the culmination of a technology category that began in the 1980's and whose time is now past. Does the debate make sense?

One thing that everyone agrees on, especially in the Lotus software Business Partner community, is that the success of IBM software customers is the most important thing. Another area where there is general agreement is on the idea that the scale of a solution is a key factor. Large-scale Web applications may be best implemented using WebSphere while smaller solutions may be perfect candidates for Domino. There isn't agreement, however, on what words like "large-scale" and "smaller" mean.

Is there any real overlap between Domino and WebSphere? In my opinion the answer is "Yes." Here are some of the parallels:

  • Application Server: Domino was the first application server product, and WebSphere is an application server.
  • Web Development: Although Domino offers a range of tools and APIs, Domino is a Java Web development environment and WebSphere is a Java Web development environment.
  • Middleware: Domino is a middleware platform, (i.e., DECS and third-party products like NotesPump or Percussion's Notrix, at and WebSphere incorporates a middleware platform.
  • Workflow: Domino practically defines workflow, and the WebSphere platform incorporates a workflow engine.
  • Intranet portals: Domino is an important intranet portal solution, but the WebSphere platform also includes a portal offering.
  • Content management: Domino has third-party content management solutions like FatWire (at, and the WebSphere platform includes content management.

What about the differences? Fundamentally, Domino is an internal IT infrastructure solution. This means that Domino has several features that don't fit in with the solutions that WebSphere is designed to deliver:

  • Calendaring: Domino includes group calendaring allowing business users within a company to coordinate their schedules.
  • Directory services: The Domino Directory is a powerful and often overlooked corporate directory solution that can be used as a meta-directory, authentication system, or provisioning system in conjunction with other IT infrastructure products.