Untangling the Lotus Feature Set


In the ongoing battle between Domino/Notes and Exchange, crossplatform
operation is one of Lotus’s main claims to fame. In the new R6, Lotus’s
collaborative software no longer runs on Novell NetWare servers or Windows
3.1, IBM 0S/2 Warp, or UNIX clients. Lotus has added lots of new
functionality across all of the remaining supported OS’s. Administrators
will find, though, that features aren’t always consistent across Windows
and Macintosh clients, or across Windows, UNIX and Linux servers.


As many analysts see it, Lotus’s ability to support platforms such as
Linux, AIX, Solaris, OS/390 and OS/400 stands Lotus in good stead versus
Microsoft Exchange.


“IBM’s ability to sell combinations of Lotus and other IBM software
products – including WebSphere (which now includes K-Station for knowledge
management), Tivoli, DB2 and Mindspan – along with its hardware and
professional services, puts the vendor in the enviable position of being a
one-stop shop for complex computing environments,” according to a recent
report from International Data Corp. (IDC).


When Daimler merged with Chrysler, for example, “half of the new firm
(switched) off of Microsoft Exchange to join the other half of the firm
that was using Domino/Notes,” say the IDC analysts.


Notes 6 supports 32-bit Windows OS, along with Macintosh OS 9 and OS X. The
Domino 6 server, on the other hand, runs on these OS: IBM iSeries (formerly
AS/400) V5R1 and later; IBM zSeries (formerly S/390), z/OS V1R2 and later;
Windows 2000; Windows NT4; AIX v4.3.3x and 5.1; Sun Solaris 2.8/SPARC; and
two distributions of Linux: Red Hat 7.2 and SuSE 8.0.


Platforms do, however, vary in terms of supported capabilities. Lotus also
faced a strict edict from IBM to get R6 out the door on time. For whatever
reasons, there are a number of discrepancies in features offered across
Lotus’s various platforms.


IPv6 support – but only for Linux, AIX, Solaris

For example, you can now start to migrate from Ipv4 to IPv6 on three of
Domino’s supported platforms, but not on any of the others. Specifically,
Lotus has enabled IPv6 support for SMTP, POP3, IMAP, LDAP and HTTP services
— but only for the Linux, AIX, and Solaris environments.


Fault recovery – but only for NT & UNIX

Conversely, Domino’s new fault recovery feature is available for all UNIX
systems, and for NT (but not for W2K)..


UNIX is the only environment that lets R6 administrators run more than one
Domino server on a single machine.


Support for NETBIOS – but mainly in Windows

In contrast, Lotus’s support for NETBIOS networking middleware is much
heftier in Windows. Windows systems support NETBIOS over TCP/IP,
Microsoft’s NetBEUI, and Novell’s IPX/SPX protocol.


“Although you can add some NetBIOS services to Linux and UNIX systems, NRPC
communication does not use them,” according to Lotus’s Domino R6
installation guide.


Linux – new SNMP agent

Also in R6, Lotus debuts an SNMP Agent for Linux. You can only add SNMP
support for Linux, however, by deploying a “properly configured SMUX
protocol (RFFC 1227).”


SHM – but only for Solaris, Win32, W2K

A new capability called Server Health Monitoring (SHM) is supported across
Solaris, Win32, and Windows 2000 platforms, albeit in different ways. SHM
provides realtime analysis of the “health” of W2K servers, delivering
“recommendations for higher performance.”


On Solaris and Win32, on the other hand, SHM works with Activity Trend data
— available through the new Domino Network Platform — for “data
exploration and resource balancing.”


Cross-selling with Tivoli?

With SHM, by the way, Lotus seems to be leveraging some cross-selling
opportunities. “SHM will work with a separately available product from IBM
Tivoli,” says Tim Kounadis, senior market manager for IBM Lotus software at
Big Blue. The Tivoli product is known as IBM Tivoli Analyzer for Domino.


UNIX – needs X Window for Console (but not for Controller)

Some of the differences are more subtle.To run Lotus’s new Domino Console,
UNIX systems must be operating X windows. Domino Controller, however, can
be used without X windows.


All platforms – Vines and Appletalk go bye-bye

Also in R6, Domino has relinquished previous support for Novell’s SPX
network protocol on UNIX platforms. Support for the Vines and Appletalk
protocols is now a thing of the past on all platforms.


Tough struggle


Despite its crossplatform strengths, Lotus faces a tough struggle against
Microsoft, experts agree.


“Microsoft’s ownership of the desktop, enterprise application server
operating systems, and business productivity (a.k.a. Office) suite software
(which includes the Outlook client) means that organizations looking to
save time and money are increasingly likely to choose Microsoft as their
primary supplier. Most collaborative applications vendors see Outlook as a
universal client that must be supported, just like Internet Explorer,” the
IDC analysts observe.

Multi-pronged attack

Lotus’s counterattack is multi-pronged. R6 integrates more easily with
Windows environments. Lotus has also spiffed up the performance and
usability of Notes, to make it more “Exchange-like.”


At the same time, the (non-Microsoft) Macintosh client has gotten some new
features. Moreover, the introduction of a Web client in R6 makes the use of
Outlook, Notes or any other e-mail client almost completely unneccesary.


Windows – better integration

Domino 6 adds ADSync, a component meant to expand the functionality of
Notes User Manager Extension for the Microsoft Active Directory in Windows
2000. ADSync lets administrators synchronize user adds and passwords, for
example, between Active Directory and Lotus’s Domino Directory


The Windows 2000 Event Viewer can now display error messages about Domino
statistics generated within the Performance Monitor.


Windows – better usability

Installable applets are now supported, but only for Windows clients.
Through this feature, a copy of the Domino applet is installed to the local
file system, so as to cut down on Web traffic. When the Web browser needs a
Domino applet it can use the locally stored applet, preventing the need for
a remote call over the Web.


In another nicety for Windows clients, Lotus has enhanced the ability to
drag-and-drop a file from the Windows desktop to a Notes document. (Before
Notes 6, a straight drag-and-drop would produce an embedded OLE object in
the Notes document, but only if you had that specific application
installed. If you didn’t have that application installed, the file would
get attached instead.)


Macintosh client – new features


Mac users can now store their Notes passwords in the Macintosh OS keychain,
a new feature of MacOS that lets a user store all security information,
such as passwords and certificates, in a single place.


For the first time, Lotus is offering a Mac version of NotesMinder, an
application that notifies users of new mail even when Notes isn’t running.


Notes 6 supports Java agents on MacOS 9 (even though they aren’t supported
on Mac OS X).


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Jacqueline Emigh

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