Collaboration: A Fresh Look at All Things Lotus PDF Print E-mail
Application Software - Collaboration & Messaging
Written by Steve Pitcher   
Monday, 11 April 2011 00:00

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This article describes the current offerings from IBM Lotus and explains why IBM Power Systems running i5/OS is the platform on which you should be running them.

 

Lotus Domino Server—it's just an email server, so let's move on.... Just kidding!

 

Many shops use Domino just for the simple task of running their email. That's all well and good, but Domino offers a number of different servers for Web, database, applications, and LDAP. If you have a Domino server and you're only running email, then get informed!

New Features

There are a number of awesome features in the newest releases, the current being 8.5.2, by the way.

  

Domino Attachment and Object Service (DAOS)

In release 8.5, Domino is shipped with the capability to use DAOS, which saves significant space by sharing identical data between databases. The most obvious practical example of this would be sending a 10MB attachment to 500 users.

 

Without DAOS, the 10MB would be allocated to every one of the target 500 mailboxes who would receive the attachment. The server disk space used would increase by 5GB from one single email.

 

With DAOS, the 10MB attachment would exist on disk in one location. All 500 mail users would see the "attachment" in the email they received; however, they would retrieve the attachment from a repository on the server. The change is transparent to the user, but your disk savings are ridiculous!

 

"Out of Office" Changed to a Service...Finally!

Previous to version 8, each mail file had an agent that would execute only a couple of times per day to forward your out-of-office message to users. Now, the notification is run as a router task service, which offers instantaneous response.

 

Notes ID Vault

This server-based database contains Notes ID files. Much more effective and secure than holding your IDes on a file server or in the (gasp!) Domino Public Address Book.

 

Notes Shared Login

This functionality integrates with Windows to authenticate to the Domino server. This is not password synchronization. Essentially, a user logs into Windows and the local ID file is opened in a secure way in order to access Notes.

 

Compressing Document Data

This feature allows you to compress document data with very little server overhead. A big space saver!

Powerful Tools

In addition to the new features, Domino is very powerful and gives you some handy tools and capabilities right out of the box that you may not be aware of.

 

Grassroots Application Development

Domino is a stable, rapid application development and deployment platform. You can build applications using the Domino Designer client, which offers tremendously fast GUI development for screens. Applications can be coded using a variety of languages, each with its own benefits. You can also mix languages in applications. For instance, you can create an application and code most of the logic in LotusScript but add features (e.g., buttons, scheduled agents, etc.) in the proprietary Formula Language or other languages like Java and JavaScript.

 

With the advent of Xpages, you no longer have to code an application for both Web browsers and Lotus Notes clients. Xpages applications can be accessed by Web and mobile browsers as well as the Lotus Notes client. I could probably do a few thousand words on Xpages alone, so for more info, please head to http://xpages.info.

 

Standard Application Templates

 

Domino comes with a number of out-of-the-box application templates:

 

  • Document Libraries
  • Teamroom
  • Discussion
  • Blog
  • News Articles
  • Resource Reservations
  • User License Tracking

 

Integration with Business Data

IBM Lotus makes it easy to fetch data out of other systems using Lotus Enterprise Integrator (LEI). Domino integration with DB2 is much more clean and advanced than in previous releases as well.

Lotus Quickr

To be honest, I don't know much about Quickr other than it's is a social team software used for content sharing, document management, and collaboration. Users build their own custom Web sites (called "Quickr places") using an incredibly easy wizard method of deployment. Quickr places contain forums, file stores, calendars, task management lists...just about anything to collaborate a project online. Users manage the security for their own "places," so they can publish it to whomever they choose. It also allows for users to build their own blogs and wikis very easily.

 

Quickr has a number of "connectors" that integrate into Microsoft Office, Lotus Notes, and other applications that allow users to quickly publish content.

 

That's usually my little sales pitch. I give it to them, they go to town, and frankly I don't care what they do with it as long as they're happy.

 

So why am I so blissfully and blatantly ignorant?

 

I like to think of Quickr as being very much user-maintained and user-driven. When I was with a previous employer, we rolled out Quickr to a small number of users and didn't really hear from them apart from the occasional support call. All we knew was that they loved it and used it.

 

I updated the Quickr server to version 8.5.1 about a year after initial deployment. It turns out a team of four created and maintained about one hundred different Quickr places for many different projects! Nothing beats deploying out the framework of a system that users adopt, manage, and promote themselves. You can't do that with something that's hard to use.

 

Check out the following links regarding Quickr:

 

http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/products/quickr/

http://www-10.lotus.com/ldd/lqwiki.nsf

 

Lotus Sametime

Sametime is a product that offers real-time collaboration for your business. That's not just a fancy description for chat and Web conferencing. Here are some of the high points:

 

Sametime offers online meetings, telephony (VOIP), and voice and video conferencing.

 

Its Enterprise Instant Messaging functionality provides the following:

  • Chat (individual and group)
  • Integration with third-party chat (AOL, MSN Messenger)
  • Presence awareness (online, available, away, do not disturb, or custom statuses)
  • Telephony status
  • Mobile client for iPod, BlackBerry, Nokia, etc.

 

The product integrates with Lotus Notes, Lotus Quickr, WebSphere Portal, Lotus Connections, and Microsoft Office.

 

"Skill tap" allows you to search for experts based on their specialties.

 

For more information, please check out http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/sametime/.        

Lotus Symphony

Symphony is a free suite of office applications to create and edit spreadsheets, presentations, and documents. This past January, IBM stated that Symphony is being used by 12 million users worldwide.

 

Symphony fully supports Open Document Format (ODF), as well as Microsoft Office and Lotus SmartSuite files and formats.

 

I'll be honest with you. Symphony won't replace incredibly complicated Microsoft Excel files. It, in my opinion, is not that powerful...yet. Many people are profoundly efficient in Excel, and I'm sure there are some who can easily rewrite an advanced user manual for the product.

 

However, with the high cost of Microsoft Office software licensing, it's very conceivable to replace Office with Symphony for 90 percent of an organization's users. The majority of users use Office for basic functionality of Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. This functionality can be achieved with minimal training on Symphony, and the cost of training is considerably offset by your savings in licensing costs of Office. This is not just something to ponder for a minute.  You have the ability to save your company mucho dinero while letting the hard-core Excel-wielding accountants keep their Microsoft Office suite.

 

Give your users the right tools for their jobs and save your company some money.

 

http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/symphony/home.nsf/home         

Lotus Connections

Connections is a Web 2.0 social software application that empowers users to be more productive by building a social business network of colleagues, customers, vendors, and business partners.

 

To get a good look at Lotus Connections, have a look at www.bleedyellow.com and take it for a test drive. Connections, sadly, does not run on i5/OS yet, but I'm strongly petitioning Lotus to make the support available.

 

Connections is made up of these capabilities:

 

  • Home Page—This portal-style Web site is the default screen a user is displayed.
  • Blogs—A blog template gives users the power to publish their own content.
  • Communities—At this Web site, people who share common interests can collaborate.
  • Files—This is a content management and sharing solution for files.
  • Profiles—People can be identified by name, interests, keywords, responsibilities, job, projects they're involved in, specialties, and location as well as many other things.
  • Wikis
  • Social Analytics—This functionality suggests content that may be interesting to users based on their interests and finds people who have things in common with them.
  • Activities—This task management system helps a team organize work.
  • Bookmarks—Users can tag Web content and share it.
  • Forums

LotusLive

You want to talk cloud computing?

 

LotusLive is a suite of collaboration solutions hosted by IBM Lotus. For a starting price of $10/month USD per seat, it's worth looking at if you want to extend your business into the cloud.

 

LotusLive offers the following solutions in the suite:

 

  • Dashboards
  • Contact management
  • Social business networking
  • File sharing
  • Online meetings
  • Project management
  • Sametime instant messaging
  • Calendaring and scheduling
  • Web communities

 

LotusLive also integrates with many third-party applications, such as Skype, LinkedIn, Salesforce.com, etc.

 

For more information, go to http://www.LotusLive.com.

Lotus Notes Traveler

Traveler essentially gives you access to Lotus Notes data on many wireless devices. Although BlackBerry offers probably the best native integration with the Notes Domino world, Traveler extends your business to Android, iPad, iPhone, Windows Mobile, and more.

 

A nice touch is that Traveler comes at no charge to Lotus Notes Domino customers!

 

http://www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus/products/notes/traveler.html

You Should Run Your Domino Servers on i5/OS!

I make it no secret that I'm a militant advocate of running Lotus Domino servers on i5/OS. I'll gladly go toe to toe with anyone in the business on the topic.

 

Why? There are so many reasons that I actually get dumbfounded that a small to medium business would run this fantastic collaboration platform on anything but i5/OS on Power!

 

I'll offer you an email I sent to a customer of mine last year who was new to the Lotus Notes Domino world and was wrestling with what platform to run it on. Coming from a Microsoft environment, they had a number of Windows servers as well as two IBM iSeries servers that already provided redundancy for their ERP.

 

The email below is in response to his question to me: Why would you suggest running Domino on iSeries?

 

"Hi, Bob McGillicuddy.

 

Here's a few points that will illustrate the value of putting new Domino servers on your iSeries.

 

Stability and Up Time – iSeries stability is second to none. A number of reputable studies over the last 10 years have declared iSeries up time head and shoulders above Windows, AIX and even zOS, which is their long-running mainframe product. In the last 8 years, the number of times our iSeries went down in an unscheduled, hard type of power down was once. This was due to a major power failure and our new propane generator had not kicked in. The only time the iSeries has been unavailable to users is when I want it to happen, usually briefly during the nightly backup or for scheduled maintenance, which happens once a year.

 

We have a BlackBerry Enterprise Server that runs on Windows. Unfortunately, RIM doesn't offer the BES software to run natively on iSeries yet, so we were forced to run a Domino server on Windows to support it. We have our primary Domino server running on iSeries and it replicates the public address book and reroutes mail to the Windows Domino server and then onto the BlackBerry devices. I have to reboot the Windows box 8 or 9 times during the year. This is not acceptable, but what can you do? BlackBerry services (i.e., mail and mobile applications) are now viewed as business-critical by our company (and many others). This orphan Domino server is the only blight in our Domino environment because of the potential for unwanted downtime. If RIM ends up offering a BES that runs on Linux or AIX, I'll be carving out a dynamic logical partition on our iSeries and running it off that, tout de suite.

 

Security – Once again, 2nd to none. I won't elaborate on this because there's so much written on the subject that you can find online. Like any system, security can be mismanaged, but a properly secured iSeries is bulletproof.

 

Processing Power and Performance - Our iSeries with 3000 CPW runs 2 enterprise-grade ERP systems, payroll, file and print sharing, production quality control, DB2 Web Query, Cognos business intelligence, and a total of perhaps 150 concurrent interactive 5250 users. It also runs our primary Domino server for mail, custom workgroup applications, and Web services. We have another Domino server deployed for Quickr and another one being rolled out for Sametime. The system response time has never been an issue. Also, because our iSeries has 16 disk drives (and iSeries disk/data management does nifty and automatic things like enable often-used files to be retrieved more quickly), we are able to take advantage of 16 drive arms moving, which aids in faster retrieval of information. The more arms you have, the better the performance.


Central Point of Management - We can manage software upgrades, fix packs, and other administrative tasks on one server. This is very handy when rolling out a new release. I have to install the Domino application code once (regardless if I have 1 or 99 servers on the same partition). You can also install this code while your Domino servers are running during the day. I can then update a test Domino server and then the rest in a matter of minutes. Also, because all Domino servers are under the iSeries, I back up the mail files and other Domino objects in the nightly iSeries backup.

 

Some other points of interest are the ability to take advantage of virtual gigabit Ethernet via the system bus. Communication between servers is lightening fast, which is great because of the amount of talking those servers do to one another. Also, I don't have to worry about additional switches, cables, routers, or any other type of network equipment that might fail or interfere with communication between servers. Cost-effective too. Less equipment = less confusion.

 

Transactional logging doesn't have to be on a separate disk array for performance considerations due to the architecture of i5/OS. In other environments, it's suggested to use separate drives to limit performance problems. This is not the case when running i5/OS.

 

I can also run multiple versions of Domino on a single i5/OS partition. This is incredibly handy if you want to test a new version.

 

I also don't have to worry about additional Windows licenses or purchasing more hardware (which costs money, takes up rack space, and costs electricity to run). Our air conditioning units don't have to worry about excess heat from 4 or 5 unnecessary machines running, which saves money. If your company is striving to be more green, then why add to your server farm?

 

I don't have to worry about buying additional i5/OS server licenses because I can put 99 Domino servers on one iSeries partition. Plus the total cost of ownership of an iSeries is incredibly low. You get your bang for your buck and then some.

 

To answer your original question: Why would I put Domino on a iSeries server? I can't think of one reason why not!

 

These new Power7 systems running i5/OS are not the circa-2001 yellow livery AS/400e Dedicated Servers for Domino. They don't cost nearly as much either. In the last 10 years, prices for these boxes have come down substantially and performance has increased dramatically. Considering the horsepower you get out of a 6000 CPW single processor activated Model 720, on which you'd happily run multiple Domino servers with a few thousand active mail users, Quickr Servers, and a Sametime server, the price/performance difference compared to running Domino on other platforms is pretty incredible.

 

Have a look at this benchmark test pitting 175,000 (175,000!) concurrent mail users against a single i5 server with 27 Domino servers.

The result was a 33 millisecond response time against more than 4 million email transactions over 13 hours. This was five years ago! The Domino 6.5.2 server code on this test is far less efficient than the 8.5.2 server featured today, and you get more processing power for less than what you paid back then too.

 

Granted, that test was on a big honkin' Model 595 16-way system with 540 disk drives, but other tests show far less powerful systems handling comparative processing power to user workloads. For instance, you have a dual-processor Model 520 with four Domino servers that handles 28,000 concurrent mail users with a 92-millisecond response time. That's a small to medium business server!

 

People, this isn't the AS/400 from years gone by. The stigma of a green-screen monster that runs your payables still exists through four or five name changes.

 

It's time to get people out of that mentality. Consolidating your Domino servers into a single Power System running i5/OS is a great start.

as/400, os/400, iseries, system i, i5/os, ibm i, power systems, 6.1, 7.1, V7, V6R1


Steve Pitcher
About the Author:

Steve Pitcher is the Enterprise Systems Manager for Scotsburn Dairy Group in Nova Scotia, Canada, and is a specialist in IBM i and IBM Lotus Domino solutions since 2001. Visit Steve's Website, follow his Twitter account, or contact him directly at stevepitcher@scotsburn.com.

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Last Updated on Monday, 11 April 2011 00:00
 
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