Lotus Notes/Domino7 features ease management burden

IBM launched its Lotus Notes/ Domino7 messaging platform last week, with new features to make it easier for administrators to manage the software.

IBM launched its Lotus Notes/ Domino7 messaging platform last week, with new features to make it easier for administrators to manage the software.

Instant messaging and collaboration are core features of the suite. It also comes with predictive tools, which can fix problems before they happen, according to IBM.

Darren Adams, IBM technical specialist for Lotus Messaging & Collaboration Solutions, said the user interface had been updated, but there were few radical changes. "We are evolving it, not revolutionising it," he said. 

The new Notes now offers more Lotus Sametime tools, so users can switch an instant messaging session over to video or audio real-time collaboration.

In addition, the buddy list has been improved, so users can bring up a list of the people they commonly work with from within applications, to see who is online.

Employees are "online" if they are logged into the Sametime IM client, Websphere Portal Server, Quickplace, or a web application, or even if they are using a mobile device connected to the network.

Lotus Notes is also evolving a "universal inbox" - where the e-mail client can receive and store e-mails, voicemails, faxes and instant messaging threads.  "Being able to save IM chat transcripts in your inbox really allows you to capture your corporate knowledge, which traditionally tends to be discarded," said Adams.

One feature that has been postponed, probably until the first maintenance release later this year, is the ability to use IBM's DB2 database as a data store. This is because not enough users have tested the option, said Adams.

Alan Bell, member of Lotus user group the Collaboration User Group, said DB2 integration "will make it easier and faster for programmers to create some pretty powerful applications, which merge the collaboration and offline features of Domino with core business transaction processing systems.

"Other suppliers seem to be compartmentalising their e-mail solutions, so that they just do messaging, whereas Domino is developing into a flexible application platform covering all business processes."

Jim Moffat, another member of the Collaboration User Group, said rival platform Microsoft Exchange had a big advantage over Domino because more people were trained in Exchange administration.

But he added, "Domino's other goal in life - and this is an area where organisations achieve real productivity gain - is as an application server, hosting applications built in its own rapid development environment.

"The consequences for workflow management, development capability and support capability are enormous."

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