Lotusphere 2007: Plenty of apps to make life easier for admins

If a program isn't built into Notes/Domino, there's likely a vendor out there to fill the niche

ORLANDO -- Like many huge enterprise applications, IBM's broad Lotus Notes collaboration suite doesn't include every IT tool or feature needed by every worker in every business. That's where third-party vendors come in to fill the gaps and provide the features and tools that were left out.

At the 14th annual Lotusphere conference, dozens of vendors filled the show's exhibit area, where the approximately 7,000 attendees could find ideas on how to solve their companies' IT problems.

The following were among the add-on products at the show:

TitanWEB ViewsFeed from Kryos Systems Ltd. allows Domino administrators to take their content from any standard Domino application and plug it into Web portal applications, where it will be readily available for users.

ViewsFeed makes it easier to put the data into a portal without having to change or relocate the original Domino information, whether it's from Domino's DocLib, Team Calendar or other applications, said Trevor Nimegeers, president and CEO of the Calgary, Alberta-based vendor.

"Many customer implementations have failed because of that," Nimegeers said. The problem has been that other portal tools are too complex, resulting in user pages that contain too much technical detail and nonintuitive labels, which makes them difficult for users to understand and use, Nimegeers said. "When you deploy a portal ... if you don't make it simple and intuitive, people won't use it," he said.

Essential Data Miner, from RPR Wyatt Inc., is an application released this week that allows systems administrators to better use the Domino log files that result from continued operation of the software.

Jim Engle, vice president and general manager of the Phoenix-based company, said the product allows administrators to get an abstract of information from Lotus .NSF files or logs to more easily find problems that are slowing the system or causing other difficulties.

Instead of being buried in intricate, hard-to-decipher Notes and Domino log files, the needed data is transformed into formats that administrators can make sense of, Engle said. Also built in is the ability to turn the results into charts and graphs so that business executives can see graphical illustrations of how the IT problems are affecting the business.

AXS-Link for Lotus Notes is a policy-driven archiving application for Notes that allows companies to automatically archive critical business documents for corporate compliance and other needs. The work is processed within an application that uses an interface that looks just like a Notes page.

For IT administrators, that means the application is easier to use and configure because they don't have to learn another proprietary interface to do their work, said Gregory Gibel, a senior compliance solutions architect at Rutherford, N.J.-based AXS-One Inc. "We want to make the Notes people as comfortable as possible," Gibel said. "This is what Notes people are used to, and it makes it very easy for them to navigate." The software archives the information to a wide range of file systems on hardware storage devices, which provide faster search and retrieval compared with databases, he said.

Emoze Ltd. unveiled the new capability of its Emoze push e-mail software to support Notes and Domino servers, providing users of almost any text-capable mobile phone and other devices to receive e-mail using Notes/Domino infrastructures.

The secure system will allow users to send and receive e-mail, even if they are not Web-enabled devices, said Caron Tal, a spokeswoman for the Raanana, Israel-based vendor. The software is currently offered for free, but users must have a data plan with their device's service provider, Tal said. Users also must install a free application on their PCs to enable the service.

The service supports other popular e-mail applications, including Microsoft Exchange and Outlook, Outlook Web-Access, POP3, Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail, as well as mobile operating systems from Symbian and Windows Mobile.

At least one offering at the show was not a product at all. Rather, OpenNTF.org is an open-source community Web site where Lotus Notes and Domino administrators and developers can get help, find useful open-source applications and leverage the expertise of fellow IT workers to improve their Notes/Domino systems.

Bruce Elgort, co-founder of the online community, said the site offers developers and administrators more than 150 free applications, as well as useful Notes/Domino templates. Among the sample applications available for download are DominoWiki, for the creation of user Wikis in Domino, an improved and more customizable help desk application called !!HELP!!, and a blogging template called BlogSphere V3.

A program to make it easier for users to do mass mailings via e-mail using Notes and Microsoft Word documents, called LetterEngine, is also available, along with Domino YUI, which allows Notes/Domino applications to implement the Yahoo user interface into Domino applications.

The free site was started about five years ago and receives about 2,500 visits daily, along with 500 to 1,000 downloads per day, Elgort said.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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