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One-platform strategy is no bluff - Leveraging the messaging infrastructure is Eastman's bet

This article appears in the issue December 1998 [Volume 7, Issue 13]

Can developing applications running on Microsoft Exchange (www.microsoft.com) help organizations react faster and make more informed decisions? At its first developers conference last month in Baltimore, Eastman Software (www.eastmansoftware.com) is betting it can.

"We've bet our strategy on Microsoft platforms," said Eastman Software President Bob Weiler in a keynote address. "If you're trying to run on too many platforms, you're constrained by the lowest common denominator."

Eastman's vision of building document management, imaging and work management solutions atop Exchange is based on the desire to painlessly automate collaborative work processes.

"If automating a process is harder than the process itself, then it will never be automated," said Weiler. "A collaborative tool must be built and deployed quickly."

Lotus (www.lotus.com) still attempts to categorize Exchange. "Exchange is messaging," said Timothy Kounadis, a Domino.Doc product manager. "You need to tack on a number of extensions from non-Microsoft partners to achieve anything resembling Notes/Domino and Domino.Doc."

Weiler disagreed: "Two years ago, Exchange was a messaging system," he said. "Messaging is now more than mail; it's an infrastructure. If you've already spent thousands or millions putting in an infrastructure, you want to build on it. We're building collaborative applications on a messaging backbone."

"The integration between the extensions and Exchange has not been proven at all." countered Kounadis. He also stressed what he sees as a lack of attention to the Web. "Eastman and Microsoft, at least for the time being, are ignoring the Web client. Domino.Doc and Domino provide robust support for Notes, ODMA and, most significantly, Web browsers." Kounadis added.

John Steer, "Technical Evangelist" for Microsoft's Application Development Customer Unit, presented developers with a keynote address highlighting Microsoft's Digital Nervous System strategy.

Comprised of three segments, DNS designates business solutions for the people, process and customer partners of an organization.

Both Weiler and Steer grappled with defining knowledge management. "KM is the big umbrella," said Weiler. "It's ill-defined the way that groupware was ill-defined in the early 90s."

Steer cited what he calls "Microsoft's reasonable definition: combining experience with information to enable effective organization."

"Microsoft's approach," said Steer, "is to extend Office as a knowledge management client, provide KM services with BackOffice, and link KM services across business operations and commerce."

A balanced mix of about 150 corporate and independent developers discussed the advantages (and challenges) of dedicating development efforts to a single platform.

Three tracks provided appropriate content for both experienced developers as well as relatively novice customers. The Bureau of Printing and Engraving (BPE, Washington) sent six staff members to familiarize themselves with WMX capabilities. Philip Donehower of the BPE commented that the "WMX Boot Camp" was appropriate for the bureau's early stage of deployment.

Conversely, a "WMX Advanced Topics" track provided code writing tips to customize work management solutions. Specifically addressed was the somewhat cumbersome project of migrating from Lotus Notes (www.lotus.com) to Exchange.

Eastman's vision of building document management, imaging and work management solutions atop Exchange is based on the desire to painlessly automate collaborative work processes.

"If automating a process is harder than the process itself, then it will never be automated," said Weiler. "A collaborative tool must be built and deployed quickly."

Lotus (www.lotus.com) still attempts to categorize Exchange. "Exchange is messaging," said Timothy Kounadis, a Domino.Doc product manager. "You need to tack on a number of extensions from non-Microsoft partners to achieve anything resembling Notes/Domino and Domino.Doc."

Weiler disagreed: "Two years ago, Exchange was a messaging system," he said. "Messaging is now more than mail; it's an infrastructure. If you've already spent thousands or millions putting in an infrastructure, you want to build on it. We're building collaborative applications on a messaging backbone."

"The integration between the extensions and Exchange has not been proven at all." countered Kounadis. He also stressed what he sees as a lack of attention to the Web. "Eastman and Microsoft, at least for the time being, are ignoring the Web client. Domino.Doc and Domino provide robust support for Notes, ODMA and, most significantly, Web browsers." Kounadis added.

John Steer, "Technical Evangelist" for Microsoft's Application Development Customer Unit, presented developers with a keynote address highlighting Microsoft's Digital Nervous System strategy.

Comprised of three segments, DNS designates business solutions for the people, process and customer partners of an organization.

Both Weiler and Steer grappled with defining knowledge management. "KM is the big umbrella," said Weiler. "It's ill-defined the way that groupware was ill-defined in the early 90s."

Steer cited what he calls "Microsoft's reasonable definition: combining experience with information to enable effective organization."

"Microsoft's approach," said Steer, "is to extend Office as a knowledge management client, provide KM services with BackOffice, and link KM services across business operations and commerce."

A balanced mix of about 150 corporate and independent developers discussed the advantages (and challenges) of dedicating development efforts to a single platform.

Three tracks provided appropriate content for both experienced developers as well as relatively novice customers. The Bureau of Printing and Engraving (BPE, Washington) sent six staff members to familiarize themselves with WMX capabilities. Philip Donehower of the BPE commented that the "WMX Boot Camp" was appropriate for the bureau's early stage of deployment.

Conversely, a "WMX Advanced Topics" track provided code writing tips to customize work management solutions. Specifically addressed was the somewhat cumbersome project of migrating from Lotus Notes (www.lotus.com) to Exchange.


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