CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — After more than a year of preparation, IBM Software Group this week unveiled Lotus Notes and Domino 6, the latest in its line of messaging and collaboration software that the company says provides enhanced productivity

and security.

The products, which the company said incorporates more than 1,000 new features, also included the launch of Sametime 3 and QuickPlace 3. Sametime is a corporate instant messaging system, while QuickPlace is a self-service Web team collaboration tool.

“”In the grand scheme of things, this is more than an incremental release,”” said Craig Roth, vice-president of Web collaboration strategies for the Meta Group in Chicago.

“”It’s really a combination of a whole slew of improvements. It’s not centred around any one large improvement, but a whole lot of smaller ones that often add up to a reason to upgrade.””

Roth said the server consolidation feature in particular stands out. “”The biggest improvement is better stability and recoverability,”” he said. There are a lot of features in there to help you support a larger number of users on each box, which is important because a lot of organizations are trying to do server consolidation. Along with that, of course, is more improvements on how to manage the box, keep it stable, recover it if it does blow up so it doesn’t take as long to come back.””

New Notes and Domino 6 features include advanced calendar and scheduling functionality, improved mail archiving, mail journaling and spam control, as well cost-management features that help consolidate server hardware, reduce disk space use and minimize network traffic.

“”We’re laser-focused, all of the time, on increasing human productivity,”” said Al Zollar, general manager of Lotus Software for the IBM Software Group. “”Instant messaging, e-meetings and online learning — we believe this isn’t about making organizations move in real-time, it’s about allowing them to have organizational peripheral vision.””

Zollar said the company is also exploring portals, e-utilities and e-business on demand in a bid to boost worker productivity even further. In this vein, the company also announced the first iteration of its e-learning software, dubbed the Lotus Learning Space — Virtual Classroom. This is designed to allow teachers and students real-time collaboration. According to the Gartner Group, the e-learning marketplace will become mainstream later this year, and other major software vendors will likely follow IBM’s lead.

Roth praised Notes and Donimo’s modern look and feel. “”There are currently a lot of user interface enhancements. It looks a lot more like a Web interface, like a portal, and less like the old-fashioned Notes interface. People will especially like the inbox features — considering they spend so much time in their inbox – where they can colour code messages and sort things automatically into folders.””

Scott Cooper, vice-president of Lotus Software, said the overall software launch is significant because it offers customers improved resources and reliability. “”It’s about doing more with less or doing more with the same,”” he said. “”I want more productivity, more users per server. I want to make sure the messaging infrastructure becomes almost the lifeblood of the organization.

“”We often don’t talk to customers about whether they need a messaging infrastructure, much like the telephone,”” he added. “”But I can’t run a business without it; I need these servers up, reliable, clustered — I need to make sure that those things are always in place, and I need to drive down the cost of running that infrastructure.””

But beyond the user and IT administrator benefits, resellers in can expect opportunities by way of selling the gear, offering education and consulting services around it, or adding pieces to the puzzle to make the application much richer, said Jeanette Horan, vice-president of development for Lotus Software. To date, 20 partners including Toronto’s Cognicase support the products.

“”Many partners can do application development, or specific vertical applications, now that there’s some new application development features available in Domino,”” she said. “”In version 6, we’ve incorporated native XML and now have the ability to support JSP tags, so if you want to be able to build a blended application that runs across a J2EE environment like WebSphere and Domino, it’s actually very easy to do that now.””

For more on this story and market projections, see the October 18th issue of Computer Dealer News.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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