A week ago, I did another whirlwind pass through Europe with stops at the Swiss (Zürich) and German Notes User Groups. My individual presentation in both cities was an update of the messaging and collaboration strategy from Lotusphere 2011. While the feedback from the Zürich event recognized that much of the information was the same as it had been at Lotusphere, several things that were plans in Orlando on February 1 have come to fruition, and there are a couple of important new pieces to the story.

From the plans-to-reality column, we released the third version of LotusLive Notes just after Lotusphere and are a week away from updating to the fourth. The rapid delivery of new releases is a hallmark of software as a service, and I am extremely proud of the engineering organization's ability to execute. We are also making good progress on the Domino applications in the cloud story from Lotusphere. In March, we released the new license type for Domino Utility Server use with LotusLive, and the IBM SmartCloud Enterprise option to deliver that Domino server has been updated to Domino 8.5.2. On Wednesday this week, we're doing a techtalk for IBMers and business partners on the SmartCloud Enterprise offering for Domino and the benefits of the holistic IBM approach to both mail and custom applications in the cloud. I've been working with customers on this approach over the last few months and finding the pricing and delivery model quite attractive.

In the new plans column, there were two additions to the strategy that I have started to talk about publicly.

The first is a preview of a new server product in the Domino line, which is the same technical engine with a packaging and licensing strategy designed specifically for the ISV market. A few months ago I asked the question on the blog as to whether it was worth prioritizing the ISV market, and I'm pleased to say the feedback there was critical in helping my team design an approach. Niklas Heidloff picked up my first hint at DNUG itself and then Henning Schmidt took the discussion off in exciting directions. I'm not quite prepared to announce the details of this new server yet, but let's just say that a lot of the public discussion is in line with our internally-approved concept. My objective is a fixed price/low price server (no PVU or CAL mechanisms, just a price-per-server) that can be used as the underpinnings of ISV applications, so that the focus can be on selling the ISV solution rather than having to sell Domino. Our intent is to make the new offering a fixed term license that is available through all licensing and delivery models, including ASL and XSP.

The second is a change in approach to the next Notes/Domino feature release, coming in 2012. One of the most consistent pieces of feedback we get is that, even as easy as it is to upgrade Domino, upgrading Notes at the desktop is the place where companies spend lots of time, money and effort on testing, planning, and rollout. Rather than make the next feature release an architectural upgrade, we are focused on delivering the new features as a "feature pack" atop the existing 8.5.x architecture. What we call that is still in the TBD realm, but it won't be called a "9" release. The idea is that you should see this as a way to add value to your current deployment, rather than having to plan a rollout and upgrade. We also see this feature release as the first place you'll recognize our Project Vulcan vision, and that includes a shift to making web and mobile interfaces a primary experience.

There's some risk associated with the transparency of sharing these plans at relatively early points in the cycle. The app server idea is something that we want to do quickly, hopefully within the next few months. And of course, as we progress on the feature release work, my team and I will have more to say about what we are building and when you'll get it. I wanted to share these points with the important DNUG and SNoUG audiences, and of course we'll talk more about this at PACLUG in a few weeks (my next trip -- three weeks at home!) and DominoPoint DDive.

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