IBM executives on Wednesday said improved management and collaboration capabilities in Notes/Domino 7 will boost the productivity of IT managers and administrators running the software in corporate enterprises.

In a teleconference announcing the release, Big Blue said it had added 175 new capabilities in Notes/Domino 7, an upgrade from version 6.5.4. Key changes include the addition of Web services support, more Lotus Sametime tools and the ability to run Notes as an integrated component of IBM’s Workplace software, which the company positions as an alternative to Microsoft Office.

Ken Bisconti, IBM’s vice-president of Workplace, portal and collaboration products, said Notes/Domino 7 will also allow customers to post some of their applications natively on DB2 while preserving the Domino-based access control and the Domino-based replication capabilities. “The DB2 option gives customers unique access to relational constructs, to improved ad-hoc query performance and the ability to use SQL commands,” he said.

In early customer testing, Domino servers are reporting anywhere from 25 to sometimes more than 80 per cent more users on popular server platforms, Bisconti said. “Even in our own internal deployment at IBM, we found up to 25 per cent less CPU utilization for the same workloads,” he said.

Canadian Notes/Domino customers are eagerly awaiting the latest version, according to Toronto Lotus User Group co-founder John Zarei. Multi-threading capabilities in Domino Designer, for example, could considerably improve productivity, Zarei said.

“If you were opening something, you couldn’t work in the other (application),” said Zarei, who is also CIO at Toronto-based consulting firm Point Alliance. “They’re getting much closer with the whole Workplace functionality.”

The IBM teleconference call included a testimonial from Jim Tieri, IT director at rail welding contractor Holland Co. based in Crete, Ill. He said right now, about 80 per cent of his users work remotely, including truck drivers who test the welding of tracks on rail lines across the United States. Many of them rarely, if ever, come into head office, which makes connectivity and communication important, he added.

“When I took this job six years ago we were on Exchange 5.5, and although the Outlook client itself was decent, the overwhelming complaint that I had from our users was the inability to really be productive when you’re offline,” he said. “In the middle of Nebraska, you don’t have a high-speed Internet link.”

Zarei, who said his firm has seen several recent Notes/Domino installations at banks and insurance companies, said version 7 should silence critics who thought the platform was dying.

“People don’t differentiate between e-mail and the breadth of the applications,” he said. “If they’re not using it for mail, they think they’re not using it.”

IBM celebrated the 20th anniversary of Lotus Notes at its annual Lotusphere developer conference earlier this year.

Commen: info@itbusiness.ca

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