Lotus Delays Domino R5 Release

Despite reports of success in the final stages of testing Domino and Notes Release 5, Lotus Development Corp. (Cambridge, Mass.) has delayed release of the products past the February due date announced at January's Lotusphere, according to a memo issued by Lotus President and CEO Jeff Papows to his company's customers and business partners.

"Although no new major problem has emerged -- in fact, [during the week of Feb. 22-26] we will reach zero-SPR status, having fixed all outstanding and documented bugs -- we need a few more weeks to wind down the final stage of development and the build cycle," Papows says in the memo, dated Feb. 17, 1999. "A great deal of progress has been made since Lotusphere, but the goal is to have the highest possible quality release. It will take until the end of March for us to reach that goal." Domino R5 native on the AS/400 is expected to be available by early April.

"R5 is in the final stages of software triage," confirms Ken Bisconti, senior director of communications product marketing. "Since reaching feature freeze very early in the year, we have been on the traditional bug tracking process of managing content."

Normal procedure is that Lotus gets to a point called "virtual zero bugs," and then goes to a final state of regression testing, according to Bisconti. "We’re really on target for the end of March, and we're feeling very confident about that," he says. "It's very hard when you're a month out to predict the final endpoint, but as you get closer, it's much easier. We're in the stage now where we've got very stable product."

Lotus spent the end of February and the early part of March focusing on usability testing, and making minor adjustments to the release. "That's what has changed the schedule a little but, but there haven't been any major reliability issues or anything like that," Bisconti says. "We've made a lot of improvements to the user interface, adding a completely Web-based front end to it, revamping all the core applications from mail to personal information management, contact management, calendars and scheduling, etc."

Lotus employs three categories of early deployment teams when preparing software for final release. The first is the Lotus early deployment team, which has actually been using R5 internally since late last year, according to Bisconti, who adds, "All our production servers are running R5 on differing platforms."

The second category of deployment team exists within IBM, which has a team of personnel piloting an early testing program. "They've probably been the most rigorous testers, as far as doing mean time between failure tests of servers with heavy loads on them," Bisconti says.

The third category is the early adopters program, which consists of between five and 10 customers actually deploying R5, as opposed to simply piloting the software, according to Bisconti.