A second look at Lotus Notes

There is still alot of bad blood about Lotus Notes.  Some people have absolute frightful feelings about it.  Usually stemming from the Lotus 4.5/5.0 days.  Don’t get me wrong, I completely sympathize with those users.  Those versions of Lotus just didn’t cut it.  The learning curve was high, and the interface was counter-intuitive.


I was a part of this thinking.  I used Lotus back in the 4.5/5.0 days (circa 1999-2001).  I then became an Exchange Administrator for the last 8 years (Exchange 5.5/2000/2003).


Enter Lotus 8.0+.  If you haven’t looked at it, really keep an open mind on the new version of Lotus.  Not only did they remake the entire user interface, but they have also implemented features that they should have had years ago, like “Message Recall”, “Single Object Storage” (IBM calls it DAOS), or storing the user’s contacts on the server, instead of just the local workstation.  Also, you can now store your contacts on the server, and have instantaneous out-0f-0ffice messages, rather than waiting the default 6 hours.


If you still feel like Lotus is still in the Stone Age, check out the new features of 8.5.


Some of my favorite features of Lotus vs Exchange/Outlook:

  • Scalability – It’s easier to scale in Lotus.  Clustering is super-easy.  You practically need a PhD in Windows systems to achieve good clustering, and maintaining it.
  • Reliability – Exchange, everything is in a single database.  the larger the database, the more prone to corruption.  If the database is corrupted, email stops.  Period.  Lotus, everything has it’s own database, including mailboxes.  One database gets corrupted, only one mailbox is affected.
  • Client Managability – The policies you can push out meet or exceed what Active Directory can do with Outlook. Whether it is archiving, client configurations, inbox size management, etc.
  • Server Managability – Domino uses SNMP standard to manage from 3rd party packages.  Exchange uses WMI, which is a proprietary protocol, and usually requires proprietary systems to manage.  Analysis and Reporting (both scheduled and on-demand) are available in the Domino Admin client.
  • Security – Lotus security is built-in, out of the box.  It uses x.509 certificates for authentication and encryption.  You have to enable that in Exchange, and is still a nightmare.
  • Migration – ohhhh. this is a big one.  Everytime Microsoft releases a new version, there isn’t a way to do an in-place upgrade.  First, you have to upgrade Active Directory.  Then, install new servers, and plan a migration.  Domino, most of the time, you can just do an in-place upgrade.
  • Platform – This is easy.  What platform do you think Exchange needs?  Domino/Lotus runs on AS400, Linux, Mac, and Windows.
  • Licensing – No need to expand.  Anything to get out of the Microsoft Licensing nightmare.  One user license is all you need for Lotus.  You can install the server as much as you want, to support the user licenses.
  • Chat – Built-in to Lotus, available if you want.


I’m not going to go more into it.  There are alot of features that I like about the new version of Lotus, but the list can just go on and on.  Check it out for yourself.


For those that refuse to check it out, simply because of past experience, you are allowing your pride and stubborness to prevent you from really seeing the greatness of Lotus.


Do I think it is for everyone?  No, certainly not.  But I do want those that hate Lotus to give it a chance.  If you still hate it, no problem.  But, stop saying Lotus is the worse thing in the world, without giving the new version a chance.


Are there things that I still think they can enhance?  Absolutely.  Probably my biggest rant, is the caching of read/unread status.  Sharing multiple mailboxes is a huge headache because of this.





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