I'm debuting a new member of my family one day early (it's October 3, 12:05 AM on the US east coast now :-) this morning. This new child has a bit of sibling rivalry, in that Notes/Domino 8.5.3 will be formally announced tomorrow, and I want to give you an opportunity to meet the new kid without big brother hogging the spotlight. Yes, we told partners and IBM Champions last week that they were under NDA until October 4...but hey, it's my baby, I'm going to brag about it on my terms :-) (and you can talk about this new server now, too).

Tomorrow, IBM will announce IBM XWork Server 8.5.3. The new server is part of the IBM Lotus Domino 8.5.3 family, but with a completely different licensing approach, different branding, and different packaging (installer). The new IBM XWork Server will be available for ordering tomorrow, and the software release is scheduled for Friday, October 7, in English.

Image:Introducing IBM XWork Server

IBM XWork Server is the new product offering you built. At the beginning of 2011, I took full responsibility for the IBM messaging and collaboration business, which meant picking up our application development story for Notes/Domino for the first time. In March, I provocatively blogged a question -- what audience was the priority in getting XPages established in the market? The majority of the responses to that blog, as well as the research my team did through other vehicles, showed us that the biggest impact could be made in reinvigorating the Notes/Domino software vendor (ISV) channel. After all, ISV solutions are what made Lotus Notes/Domino the success they were and are, but, well, we've gotten a bit away from that over the last several years. Meanwhile, we implemented XPages in Domino 8.5.x, with thousands of XPages developers in the marketplace today. Looking at OpenNTF.org, sales of Mastering XPages, and seminar attendance, XPages is clearly becoming mainstream.

However, I didn't completely want to limit our new server audience to XPages. Though I initially floated a name of "XPages Application Server" some months ago at DNUG, we went with the cooler-sounding and somewhat less-restrictive IBM XWork Server as the final name. XWork Server can work with any regular Domino application--XPages, Lotusscript, @functions. It is being introduced to drive XPages adoption, but not to the detriment of the family. By the way, I still think branding is the hardest part of marketing, and want to credit my boss Jeff Schick for coming up with the server name.

You are probably wondering, what is it and how is it different?

By license, an IBM XWork Server is an application server only that is licensed on a fixed-term, per-install basis. No PVUs, no CALs (see, I listen!). Just a fixed annual license of approximately US$2,000 per server install. That's it.

The license is restricted, so as to distinguish it from other Domino family offerings. The restriction is that each XWork Server install may have up to four applications installed, where an application is defined generally as a group of one to four NSFs. Thus, an XWork Server install can have a total of 16 production, non-system NSFs -- up to four per application. If you need more than four applications, you can license a second install of the IBM XWork Server on the same physical deployment, which doubles the numbers. However, if you need more than that, Domino Utility Server/Utility Express remain the products to buy in the Domino family.

I said earlier that the IBM XWork Server is designed to grow the ISV market for Domino. The choice of fixed-term, per-install licensing was designed to go hand-in-hand with IBM's Application-Specific Licensing and other channel sales programs. IBM XWork Server is intended to primarily be sold as a "white label" server technology. This means, it isn't necessarily my intent to sell the heck out of XWork Server by itself, though I'm ok with that happening; it is really more designed for an ISV to sell as an integrated stack, like a single combined purchase with the ISV's solution.

By example, I met business partner We4IT at Lotusphere Comes to You in Dusseldorf earlier this year. They were excited to show me their vacation tracking application. It started as a Notes database years ago, had been converted to XPages, and now We4IT had explicitly mobile-enabled the web interface. It wasn't tied to email, so I asked them if they had ever sold it into Microsoft-focused customers. They said they had not, because they also had to "sell" (whether they actually sold the license or just the vision) the Lotus Domino server simultaneously. In discussion, I felt like if We4IT, and any other similar partner, could just tell their customer "our solution runs on an IBM software server", we could get past some objections based on perception or pre-existing standards in a broader segment of the market.

We are not intending to aggressively market IBM XWork Server to the end customer. I'm sure that will invite some cynicism and the usual armchair quarterbacking, but again let me state clearly that our intent is to simply offer our server technology in a vehicle that is as frictionless as possible. There are corporate environments that will buy XWork Server, but if we can amp up the channel and the market for XPages, we will have accomplished my initial goal.

Last week, we pre-briefed over a hundred business partners on the new XWork Server, and made it clear -- we are looking to actively work with ISVs to create the best-possible conditions for you to sell your solution. Our channel sales team is ready to discuss XWork Server and, if appropriate, we have some flexibility in individual situations to color outside the lines of the announced offering's terms and conditions. Tomorrow, our channel announcement, web pages, and other collateral will be available.

The IBM XWork Server is a clear example of the success of being a social business. We collaborated in all the best ways possible to build the new server, internally within IBM as well as with the market. Thank you to my team (current and past) for conceiving the new server and making it happen. And thank you to several partners, including Sean Cull of focul, for providing sounding boards during the design phase of this effort.

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