Lotus Domino -- High-end enterprise-level server for Unix, Windows 95/NT platforms

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Jun 25, 2002

Lotus Notes/Domino has gradually evolved from the leading proprietary groupware platform into a viable solution for building Internet standards-based enterprise level messaging and groupware applications. The latest version supports Post Office Protocol (POP3), Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP 4), Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP 2), Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP 2), Secure Sockets Layer (SSL 3), and HTTP 1.1. Domino is a sophisticated product that requires a significant commitment of time and effort to learn, but once you get past the initial steep learning curve, the results that can be achieved with the client are amazing.

The strength of Domino is that users can access Notes applications not only with the proprietary Notes client but also with a standard Web browser. It must be noted however that this comes at a price as not all Notes functions work in the Web environment. As a result, developers need to be careful when they are creating Notes applications to ensure that they will run smoothly on the Notes client and well as on standard Web browsers. This burden has been lessened with release of the new Notes Designer for Domino authoring environment. Lotus Notes/Domino has gradually evolved from the leading proprietary groupware platform into a viable solution for building Internet standards-based enterprise level messaging and groupware applications.

Scripting support is provided with LotusScript as well as through support for server-side Java scripting. To jumpstart development several useful templates are provided with Lotus Notes/Domino including a document library and discussion group. Unfortunately, modifying these templates requires finding talented programmers. Since Notes is most often used in Fortune 500 and Big 6 organizations, finding qualified help can be difficult and expensive.

Administration has always been a major challenge with the product due to its complexity. The latest version greatly simplifies the process by providing templates with common default configuration settings and synchronization of account information with native NT security. Users can also remotely administer the Domino server using a Web browser. We did run into some difficulties using the Java-based tool and recommend the Notes client be used instead until these problems are worked out.

Domino makes sense for existing Lotus Notes users and firms that need to develop sophisticated document management and groupware applications. For customers that just need to build static websites or dynamic sites that are primarily database-driven, Domino is probably not the best choice. Therefore, it may make sense to run two HTTP Servers, a "traditional HTTP server" such as IIS or WebSite Pro for static HTML pages and database access and Domino for groupware applications such as document repositories and discussion threads.

Pros: 7 Ideal development environment for sophisticated groupware and document repository-based apps, 7 Superior replication capabilities, 7 Internet standards support, 7 Sophisticated security controls, 7 Runs on many different platforms, 7 Sample templates are provided to speed up development, 7 NNTP support to public newsgroups

Cons: 7 Expensive, 7 Performance is slow for high-volume sites, 7 Buggy browser-based administration tool, 7 Steep learning curve, 7 Hard to find skilled Domino programmers, 7 Many Lotus Notes client features are not supported in the Web environment, requiring special care during development

New in v5.0: Enhanced user interface for Client/Designer/Admin (including bookmarks and headlines), domain search and domain catalog, enhanced printing support, Web-enabled mail template, new R5 database format, native SMTP, MIME/SMIME enabled, initial Javascript support, Java libraries included, directory catalog, IIOP/ORB, transaction logging and recovery, IIS Integration, new install program, editor and outline applets; Release Notes
Upgrade Meter: 5

Version Reviewed: 5.0 Official Release
Reviewed by: Stroud/Allison
Last Updated: 4/12/99
Date of Original Review: 1/1/98

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