Zollar promises Raven system by March

The long-awaited second part of Lotus Development's knowledge management system, code named Raven, will be available in March.

          The long-awaited second part of Lotus Development's knowledge management system, code named Raven, will be available in March, president and CEO Al Zollar, said this week as he opened the Lotusphere user's conference in Florida.

          The Lotus Discovery Server is meant to be used with the company's K-station portal builder, released last month. The knowledge management system is aimed at allowing users to access information and contact people with expertise in particular areas using a single access point, typically a personal portal. The system further allows access using wireless devices.

          "I know this product is overdue," Zollar said as he announced the March availability of Discovery Server. "No one knows this better than I do."

          While Zollar quickly highlighted a number of other new products and services, he did not mention the company's restructuring, which is expected to be detailed at a news conference today.

          Speculation has run rampant that the restructuring will lead to Lotus parent company IBM taking more control. But references to IBM during the opening session were limited to product news related to IBM and a comment from comedian Al Franken, who warmed up the crowd and noted that while Lotus is part of IBM "it has its own culture."

          Zollar outlined various other announcements which were elaborated on during a demonstration of the knowledge management system, using both K-station and Discovery Server as well as various other Lotus products, including Notes, iNotes Web Access, Mobile Notes and Sametime instant messaging.

          The knowledge management products can operate with or without Lotus' Domino collaboration and messaging platform. The system can be used with browser software to access information, including personal portals, over the web.

          The K-station is the portal builder that sits on top of the Discovery Server, which provides search functions and also collects information about users and builds catalogs detailing who has expertise in what area.

          The aim of the system, Zollar says, is to allow users to "bridge the knowledge gap," by bringing together various sources of information. Lotus' 2001 strategy "is to be the mind of e-business," he said.

          Besides the Discovery Server news, Zollar also announced:

          • Lotus Collaboration Services will be offered to users who want the software maker to host collaboration applications. The service application will integrate Sametime 2.0 and QuickPlace 2.0, Zollar says. This doesn't mean that Lotus is now an ASP (application service provider). The company will not offer the full range of ASP services, but will focus on collaboration applications support, he says.
          • Research in Motion (RIM), along with Lotus, announced that RIM's Blackberry wireless device can now be used to access Lotus accounts.
          • Lotus and Telstra, the Australian telecommunications and information services vendor, have teamed to offer access via WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) devices to Domino servers for mail, calendars and corporate directories.
          A brief preview also was given of "Rnext," the next major version of Lotus Notes, due out in beta later this year. Scott Cooper, Lotus vice president of knowledge management, saysthat Rnext will offer more multitasking functions, make it easier to change calendar entries and the like and provide new replication features, including the ability to replicate only selected documents or documents from particular people using a new replication filter.

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