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Lotus Unveils Domino R6

IBM Corp.’s Lotus Software Group on Tuesday officially took the wraps off of the long-awaited Release 6 (R6) of its Notes and Domino messaging and collaboration products. The major enhancements to Notes/Domino since Lotus last refreshed the products almost three years ago involve efforts directed at reducing total cost of ownership (TCO).

Alan Lepofsky, offerings manager for Lotus software, touts Domino R6’s enhanced support for server consolidation, along with its new tools for policy-based administration, as merely two of the strategies by which Lotus proposes to reduce Domino’s total cost of ownership.

To facilitate migrations from existing Domino R5 systems, Lotus will support for the first time in Domino R6 version coexistence among different releases of Domino, Lepofsky confirms.

According to James Kobielus, a senior analyst with consultancy Burton Group, both Lotus and Microsoft have struggled to encourage users to upgrade to new versions of their messaging and collaboration products.

“Most companies have a heavy investment in either Domino or Exchange, and they want to stay with those products and slowly or systematically migrate or enhance those products … they don’t upgrade in lockstep with a vendor’s new announcement,” he comments, speculating that it took approximately two years for even a quarter of Notes/Domino R4 users to upgrade to R5: “I doubt that maybe more than a quarter of Exchange 5.5 [shops] have upgraded to Exchange 2000 by now, either.”

As a result of Notes’ new compression capabilities, Lepofsky argues, IT environments can reduce Notes-to-Domino-related traffic on their networks by 35 to 50 percent. Compression also results in a reduction of Domino server-to-server network traffic of 25 to 30 percent. This has the added benefit of helping customers to consolidate Domino servers, Lepofsky argues.

“The amount of users they can get on to a given machine has been dramatically improved because of things like [network compression],” he says.

In addition, Lepofsky concludes, Domino’s shared-nothing clustering capabilities – which make it possible to fail-over from one server to another across a wide-area network – remain unmatched by its closest competitor, Microsoft Corp.

“In the Domino environment, clustering is the true failover and fault recovery of an entire server,” he asserts, stressing that Lotus can also support failover between heterogeneous operating systems. “We can cluster an AS/400 and a Linux box, and failover [from the one to the other].” Domino also runs on Windows servers.

Lotus is also incorporating support for SPAM blacklisting into Domino R6. What this means, says Burton Group’s Kobielus, is that Domino will be able to refuse e-mail traffic sent from the domains or IP address ranges of known SPAMmers. Once again, he notes, Lotus is ahead of Microsoft, which has promised to introduce similar anti-SPAM facilities in its forthcoming Titanium and Kodiak versions of Exchange – but hasn’t yet provided specifics. Microsoft is expected to provide more detail about its plans at the Microsoft Exchange Conference next week in Anaheim, Calif.

“[Lotus] has a lead here on Microsoft in the sense that Domino R6 is now shipping, but don’t forget that Microsoft has promised to deliver anti-SPAM features in Titanium, too,” he says.

Revamped Collaboration Tools

Lotus also used the occasion of its Domino R6 announcement to unveil updates for its SameTime and QuickPlace collaborative products, as well.

Lotus updated its SameTime instant messaging (IM) and collaboration product to version 3.0. New in the SameTime 3.0 IM Gateway is support for the Session Initiation Protocol for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE) protocol, which, Lepofsky says, makes it possible for SameTime to interoperate with other IM products that support the SIMPLE standard.

This means that users of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows XP client environment – which ships with a SIMPLE-enabled IM client, MSN Messenger – can exploit SIMPLE capabilities in Lotus SameTime 3.0 that are currently unavailable to them in Microsoft’s Exchange 2000 messaging and collaboration server.

“Microsoft had the first SIMPLE-enabled client product on the market with Windows XP, but unfortunately, Microsoft had not implemented that [SIMPLE] stack under Exchange or under its MSN Messenger service,” says Burton Group’s Kobielus.

Elsewhere on the collaboration front, Lotus’ revamped QuickPlace 3 will ship with a Java- and XML-based API that now makes it possible to embed team collaboration capabilities in Web applications.

New Pricing Model

Starting in January, Lotus will begin pricing Domino on a per-CPU basis. For the moment, Domino R6 will be available for $894 per server -- $2,308 per server for Domino Application Server. Both will require a Notes or iNotes client access license (CAL) for users, Lepofsky acknowledges. Lotus also markets a Domino Utility Server which, despite a cost of a whopping $11,750 per CPU, doesn’t require CALs. Lotus’ SameTime and QuickPlace collaborative apps are priced on a per-user basis at $38 and $39, respectively.

According to Marcel Nienhuis, a market analyst with messaging consultancy Radicati Group, Lotus currently boasts a lower initial acquisition cost than its closest competitor, Microsoft Exchange. While he won’t speculate as to how Lotus’ revamped pricing model will impact its TCO, Nienhuis does indicate that the two messaging platforms will continue to be “neck-and-neck” in terms of cost.

“We did a TCO study last year, and we have Lotus a little bit cheaper than Microsoft on the acquisition cost, but it’s also more costly to manage Lotus than it is to manage Microsoft. Over a three year period, we found that the TCO difference between them both was $3.”

Radicati estimates that collectively, Lotus and Microsoft control 80-85 percent of the messaging market. As of its last count, Nienhuis confirms, Radicati found that Microsoft had surpassed Lotus in the total number of client licenses.

“The new release of Lotus might maybe change things or shift things in favor of Notes, but as of now, we have Microsoft ahead by a few million [seats],” he confirms.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.

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