Lotus Domino 6.0 and Notes 6.0: A full-featured enterprise collaboration system and application server
Looking for a customizable, extensible, and programmable enterprise-class collaboration environment to connect employees, customers, and partners over the Web or in a low-speed dial-up replicated environment on a variety of operating systems?
Lotus Domino 6.0 may be just the ticket.
Lotus Domino 6.0 is the latest in a large pool of collaborative client/server tools. While the other major players in this space, namely Microsoft Exchange and Novell GroupWise, began as e-mail and groupware servers and eventually evolved into extensible platforms for developing custom workflow and knowledge management applications, Notes, later called Domino (now only the client is called Notes) began as a programmable collaboration environment.
We will state up front that Lotus Domino 6.0 is not the way to go if you need to provide e-mail and shared calendars for 50 people. While it can certainly be used for this kind of basic application, it would be much more complex and expensive approach than many alternatives.
However, if you need a customizable, extensible, and programmable enterprise-class collaboration environment that can provide access for employees, customers, and partners, be it over the Web or in a low-speed dial-up replicated environment, Lotus Domino is a good candidate. Its support for many different operating systems, including Windows NT 4.0 and 2000, Solaris 2.8, Red Hat 7.2, and SuSE 8.0 Linux, as well as IBM iSeries (AS/400), IBM zSeries (S/390), and AIX, make it a strong candidate for heterogeneous computing environments.
The newest version of Lotus Domino comes with a variety of new features and enhancements. Management tools have been improved substantially, with policy-based management, automatic client upgrade capability, a browser-based administration client, server monitoring, and integration with Tivoli Analyzer. LDAP support is greatly improved, enabling integration of Lotus Domino user information with other directories in the enterprise. An Effective Access Calculator sorts out the rights granted to any individual at any level of the directory tree without having to browser through many levels. Finally, integration with the Microsoft Management Console enables administrators to make changes in both Active Directory and Lotus Domino at the same time.
Lotus Domino offers a number of features we believe should play well in the enterprise space. Communication between the client and server can be compressed, allowing WAN access to be improved. Replication of the Lotus Domino database is more flexible and easier to set up. The remote administration console is improved in speed and functionality, allowing Java-based secure access via a browser from any system. The interface is the same as the administrator client, making it easier to move from one to the other.
Mail routing and quotas make it easier to control traffic on the WAN and to set limits on disk space usage and bandwidth usage per user or group. Journaling allows copies of messages to be saved as they are routed through the network for auditing or backup purposes.
Lotus Domino also has features designed to appeal to ISPs and other service providers. Providers can host Lotus Domino servers for different companies on the same system, and the server provides clustering for enhanced scalability and reliability. Administration, including client administration, is possible by either the ISP or the customer.
Lotus Domino also integrates better with other enterprise applications. It allows the use of alternative Web servers instead of the Domino HTTP server for Web access, real-time access to the data in relational databases through the Enterprise Integrator (a separate product), and better access to and integration with other e-mail systems both internally and externally, including XML support. The Enterprise Integrator is especially interesting — once a connection to a database has been set up, access to the data is as if the data were stored in the Lotus Domino database, in terms of ease of access, control, and transparency to the user.
Domino Designer 6.0 is the included tool for designing databases, workflow, and applications. It supports HTML, so page rendering is usually the same for the Notes client and the Web client. Java 1.3, XML, XSL, DOM, SAX, and XSLT support is included, and data connections are directly integrated, making it easier to develop applications that access data outside the Domino store. There are many improvements to the overall ease of development and to the presentation of data.
In addition to the server itself, the Notes client and the iNotes Web Access client have been substantially improved. The iNotes client offers features and usability much closer to the full client, including the interface, speed, and functionality. Improvements to the Notes client include greater usability in an environment where the user needs access to both Lotus Domino servers and standard Internet servers (i.e., POP3, IMAP, or SMTP). Integration with both Internet and corporate standards is much better. For example, opening attached Microsoft documents is easier, accessing Web sites and news (NNTP) services has been simplified, and there’s even an integrated spell checker in the e-mail client. For enterprise users, setting up multiple Notes users on a single system or enabling access to any user’s store from multiple systems and locations is much easier.
We found the documentation for Lotus Domino to be extensive and generally well-done. The one downside is that it is available only online. The product is available for download, and can be purchased on CDs. IBM notes on its Web site that hard copy documentation will be available.
Pros: Extensible, enterprise-class platform for e-mail, collaboration, and application development;
Greatly improved integration with other applications, Internet standards, and e-mail systems;
Exceptional management tools;
Cons: Set up and administration can be complex for the small business;
Documentation is available only online
Reviewed by: Logan Harbaugh
Original Review Date: 12/26/2002
Original Review Version: 6.0