IT administrators praise upcoming Lotus features

Lotus Notes and Domino administrators attending Lotusphere 2004 in Orlando responded positively to a host of new features and...

Lotus Notes and Domino administrators attending Lotusphere 2004 in Orlando responded positively to a host of new features and updates to the Lotus family of collaboration applications.

Among the new features unveiled are plans to offer consistent release dates, languages, platforms and updates to make it easier to manage the applications.

"The integration of the entire product line is key," said Lisa Elieff, a senior systems administrator for 50,000 users in the Minnesota Department of Administration in St. Paul. About half of the department's users are running Lotus Notes 5, while the rest use the Learning Space and Quickplace e-learning applications.

"It was kind of hard to keep up with the releases and have them talk to each other."

Sylvia Kessel, manager of desktop productivity and applications at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, was intrigued by the deeper integration of e-mail, web conferencing, calendaring and e-learning applications within Lotus Workplace.

Giving users one place to log in and access all of the applications could make it easier for workers to use the software tools at their disposal, Kessel said. "I think it will help users access things they might not use."

Another benefit, she added, is that a more intuitive log-in process for users could reduce help desk calls.

Alan Davis, a Domino developer at a children’s clothing retailer, agreed.

"Our users for the most part are not computer-savvy," he said. "To have them have to only go into one place [to access applications] will make it easier for them and allow them to use the products more effectively. When users have a hard time getting into something or using it, they tend not to use it as much."

The tighter integration between Lotus Workplace and the Notes and Domino applications in the upcoming releases also won praise from Davis. "When we move to 6.5 [from a mix of Notes 5 and 6 and Domino 6], that will make my life easier."

Jeff Van Gundy, an appraisal administration worker at World Savings in Oakland, looked forward to deeper web services features promised in Version 7 of Notes and Domino. These will allow the financial services company to enhance the portals it is creating for customers, using IBM's DB2 database application to replace the native Notes database. World Savings has about 1,000 Notes client users and another 5,000 workers who use web-based Notes.

However, some IT staffers remained sceptical.

Ken Kolb, information systems manager at Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance, said he would continue to evaluate the new offerings for his 1,200 Notes users. While some of the new features are convenient and would be nice to have, they may not be necessary for his users.

Todd R Weiss writes for Computerworld

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