IBM today unveiled a major upgrade to its flagship platform with the launch of Lotus Notes and Domino 7 in an attempt to capitalize on a growing demand for collaboration tools, the company said.
The latest version of the platform, Lotus Domino 7, includes new features and tools designed to improve productivity for IT administrators and corporate application developers, as well as significant new productivity enhancements to help Lotus Notes users work more efficiently.
"The strength and success of Lotus business has never been better," Lotus General Manager Mike Rhodin said in a conference call. He pointed to double-digit growth in the first two quarters of 2005 as prime indicators of its success. "Lotus Notes and Domino are key to the overall growth of the business."
Ken Bisconti, vice president of IBM's Workplace, Portal and Collaboration business, said the version was born in response to IBM customers' call for more than just e-mail for their collaboration needs.
"As a result, IBM has evolved Lotus Notes and Domino forward as an extensive platform built to meet the business objectives of a wide variety of corporate communities, including end users, IT administrators, application developers and the CFO's office," he said.
The updates include more than 100 new collaboration features and tools designed to improve productivity, as well as to meet new and expanding needs. Among the new features are what IBM calls "visual indicators" for message management. These visual indicators help users organize and manage the e-mail in-box by highlighting high-priority messages and differentiating between group e-mails and messages targeted for specific users, according to Rhodin.
In addition, memory functions save and return to open documents and applications during shutdown and restart modes, providing users mobility without worrying about losing data or hindering productivity, according to Big Blue.
Rhodin also pointed out that instant messaging and presence technology, integrated in the Lotus Notes client, was expanded across the platform, including calendar items, facilitating productivity and responsiveness by instantly connecting users with experts and key contacts.
Jim Tieri, director of information technology at Holland Company, a railway manufacturing company based in Illinois, said he had seen glimpses of version 7 but had not yet tried it.
"When considering a new platform to replace our aging Microsoft Exchange 5.5 environment, one of the most important elements was the long-term viability of the product," Tieri said in a statement. "We were planning on creating applications utilizing the new platform, and didn't want to have to rewrite the apps every two years while keeping current with upgrades. Lotus Notes keeps us out of the 'rip and replace' mentality."
During the conference call, Tieri said he wasn't sure when his company intended to upgrade from Lotus 6.5, but expected to work with IBM integrating the system.
"The key thing for our users is to be productive offline," Tieri said, noting that more than 80 percent of his 300-person work-force do much of their job remotely. He also said he was looking for a platform that is more than just e-mail.
"We still run on Notes and will continue to do so with the proliferation of viruses and all the nasties running around the world today," he said.
"Today, tens of thousands of customers are relying on Lotus Notes and Domino to help drive their overall business, so we've built Lotus Notes and Domino 7 with capabilities that can increase productivity from the organizational level down to individual knowledge workers." Bisconti said in a statement.
IBM said it is helping customers plan their software purchases and deployments by delivering new versions of Lotus Notes and Domino every 12 to18 months and by making it easier for customers to upgrade to new versions. Bisconti said that, since the fall of 2002, with 120 million Notes seats sold, the product roadmap and consistent delivery of new Lotus Notes and Domino technology have resulted in more than 90 percent of customers working on the most recent version of the product.
"That is an unprecedented rate of adoption in the software industry," he said.
Lotus Domino 7 also includes new tools for application developers. According to IBM, customer feedback suggests that more than 65 percent of IBM customers are building as many or more Lotus Domino-based applications this year than one year ago.
New IT administration tools can increase performance and scalability while helping to lower costs. Through internal benchmarking, IBM projects that this release will allow many customers to run up to 50 percent more users per server, requiring up to 25 percent less CPU capacity for the same workload, the company said.
Lotus Domino server software starts at $1145 per CPU, while IBM Lotus Notes software starts at $101 per client. IBM Lotus Domino Web Access 7, IBM's Web-based messaging client, starts at $70 per client.
This article was originally published on internetnews.com.