Lotus may break up Notes and sell it in separate modules as an intranet suite similar to Netscape's SuiteSpot.
Ken Bisconti, US marketing manager for Notes, said it was possible Notes will be broken up into its constituent parts, although he stressed the company had not yet made a definite decision.
If Lotus goes ahead and unbundles the various features of Notes, it could result in the release of a separate Web server, collaboration server, Email server and directory server. These components would probably be delivered in place of Notes 5.0, which Lotus had been expected to release in the third quarter of next year. Notes 4.5 is scheduled to ship in December.
Jim Moffat, product manager at Lotus UK, said: "Nothing is ruled in, nothing is ruled out." But he later appeared to doubt the plan: "It is not a likely scenario. It would not make sense to break up Notes today."
According to Moffat, one of Notes' key selling points is the functionality it provides in a single server product. He poured scorn on rival Netscape's suite model: "The general consensus in the industry is that Netscape has too many products. Its architecture is a patchwork quilt."
Rana Mainee, analyst at IDG, said: "It is probably a good idea to have a product as one solid block. But how to keep constantly updating that, and integrating new technologies will be a problem." He believes Lotus was likely to "go some way" towards unbundling Notes.
Lotus is already trying to position Domino as a separate product in its own right, though it was originally conceived as a modification to Notes to bring Web functionality, Domino has now been re-positioned as a Web server accessible from any browser.
"Buying a Notes server implies buying Notes clients," explained Moffat.
"But with Domino, which can use Web browsers or Notes clients, that's not so."
Pizza: too close for comfort
Extra pepperoni on your groupware? You might have thought the differences between software and deep pan would be fairly obvious, but not in America at any rate. Domino Pizza is threatening to sue Lotus over the logo the company is using for the Domino Web server, and its use of the slogan "Domino Delivers", claiming it is too similar to the pizza outlet's sign.
Lotus has not yet replied to the legal challenge, but would be advised to tread carefully - after all, the Domino chain is a major Notes user.
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