As part of the ongoing recognition of the significant Lotus Notes milestones reached last year, the team interviewed Ken Bisconti, IBM VP of Workplace, Portal, & Collaboration products.  Some very clear, concise, and reassuring words about the future of Lotus Notes:

"Upcoming changes to Notes will mark the first significant steps in Notes' evolution from the premier client experience among IBM Lotus software offerings to the premier client experience in IBM Workplace, the client side of IBM's next-generation software portfolio.  So Notes isn't being replaced by IBM Workplace; it's becoming part of IBM Workplace, and it's here to stay. ...
Going forward Notes will support not only IMAP and LDAP and other established standards," says Bisconti, "but also an expanded programming model that supports Java and J2EE and emerging standards like Eclipse and SyncML. Eclipse support alone will open the Notes rich client run-time to millions of programmers who haven't previously developed Notes applications. It's just one example of how Notes will leverage open-source software in business-supported mode, to expand application possibilities for our customers and business solution vendors."
What about backward compatibility, Ken?  Some say that the future of Notes as part of the IBM Workplace infrastructure is a rip-and-replace.
"Customers shouldn't think of IBM Workplace as something new and separate that they need to worry about and stop and think and move to.  Workplace is our next-generation family of collaboration and portal technologies, and over time the Notes product family will adopt these technologies in the most appropriate and natural manner for our customers."

Bisconti reiterates that throughout this period of change, Notes will continue its tradition of backward compatibility and investment protection.

"We realize what a big part Notes plays in our customers' every business day," he says. "So we're not going to run-off and create a brand-new experience. Whatever we do to improve the product, we're going to make sure it retains full-fidelity support for the functions and capabilities our customers have invested in."
You see in this last excerpt (and other places in the full interview) an emphasis on the message that Lotus Notes is part of the IBM Workplace strategy.  IBM has been saying this for over a year, but now that more products are shipping, it's becoming a lot clearer how the strategy fits together, as well as how the various technologies will fit together.
Link: Here to stay! Notes begins evolution into premier rich client for IBM Workplace >

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