New Notes shows IBM 'is serious'

Notes keeps on kicking

New collaboration features and productivity tools are features of a major upgrade to Lotus Notes and Domino, announced last week.

There are more than 120 new features in Lotus Domino version 7.0. They include visual indicators to help users organise and manage their inbox by highlighting high priority messages, as well as differentiating between group emails and messages targeted for specific users. New memory functions that will automatically save and return to open documents and applications upon shut down and restart and expanded instant messaging and presence technology are also included.

Craig Hart, IBM/Lotus technical manager for Australia and New Zealand, says version 7.0 is a strategic release. It offers plugins that have 100% fidelity with any Notes application while integrating with, say, J2EE and open-source applications.

Lotus Domino 7.0 also includes other new tools for application developers. For instance, a new web services design element lets developers use Lotus Domino as a web services host.

New administration features include a Linux-based Web Administration client and tighter integration with Web services standards, as well as back-end hooks to IBM’s DB2, WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere Portal.

DB2 is an option that offers much faster processing because it is a relational database and Notes is not.

IBM estimates the new release will allow many customers to run up to 50% more users per server, requiring up to 25% less capacity for the same workload.

IBM has been developing the next version of its Java-based Workplace platform, which will eventually incorporate the Notes client into its Eclipse-based Managed Client framework. The platform will let users run their existing Notes applications, Java-based applications or a blending of the two.

In addition, version 7.0 enables users to run a complete Linux platform, with Domino running on Linux, the Domino web administration available on Linux and Firefox as the browser. Also, IBM last month unveiled an upcoming version of its Notes plugin that will run on Linux.

Notes/Domino 7.0 represents one step along the road IBM has proposed, including the unveiling earlier this year of the next Notes client, code-named Hannover. The client will merge the Notes client with IBM’s new Workplace technology.

The aim is to give users a single client that can access messaging features, Notes applications and non-Notes applications running on IBM’s middleware.

“One of the reasons that this is a remarkable release is that many people thought they would never see it,” says Peter O’Kelly, an analyst with Burton Group.

“Many thought that Notes would be taken out in favour of Workplace,” he adds. “So 7.0 is important in two respects — it [also] reaffirms IBM is serious about Notes/Domino going forward.”

New versions of Notes and Domino are being delivered every 12 to 18 months, alternating between server and client upgrades. Hart says version 8.0 is around 18 months away.

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