Lotusphere 2006: Users scour the show for answers, tools

It's the best place for information to solve Notes/Domino problems, they say

ORLANDO -- Many of the 6,000 or so attendees at this week's Lotusphere 2006 are facing a raft of vexing IT concerns as they try to decide how best to bolster security, comply with regulations, archive e-mail, implement useful administrative tools and secure sales force automation help.

That makes the 13th annual Lotusphere conference, which ends tomorrow, a one-stop shop when it comes to finding solutions to the IT issues involved in their Lotus Notes and Domino deployments.

John Tincher, a Notes administrator at Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Flint Ink, a division of printing ink maker Flint Group of Luxembourg, said he is here to find consolidation help, now that his company has merged with two other ink companies. Flint Ink has some 2,500 Notes users in the U.S. on Versions 5 to 6.54 of the software, while the newly acquired companies have about the same number of users on Version 4.6 in Europe, he said. The U.S. operation runs Lotus Domino server, while the European operations run everything from Domino to Microsoft Exchange to Open-Xchange server applications.

As a result, Tincher is trying to figure out how best to marry those disparate e-mail systems so they work well together. "It's more complicated than we first thought," he said. "Fortunately, there are some individuals in Europe who are doing the brunt of that work."

Tincher was also looking at the upcoming release of Notes 7. "We just want to get everybody on one platform before going to the next version," he said. "It'd be nice to have everyone on Version 6.5 before going to Version 7."

He particularly liked a feature in Notes 7 that allows an e-mail to be pulled back after it has been sent to another Notes/Domino system. "That's a good feature that they're finally adding," Tincher said.

Larry Lovstad, an application developer at Pharmacists Mutual Cos., an Algona, Iowa-based insurance firm, said one of his primary goals at Lotusphere is to find security tools that will strengthen his IT systems when incorporating additional Web services applications.

"We're just trying to take a pulse on just how safe we are," Lovstad said. "We're looking for some answers" for the company's 250 users, who are running Notes and Domino Versions 6.02. Later this year, the company plans to move to Notes 7, he said, so he is also scouring the conference for development ideas on how to connect the new applications to back-end systems.

Cary Thomas, a Notes and Web administrator at Houston-based Enbridge Energy Co., said he has been searching out security, regulatory compliance and e-mail archiving applications to add to the company's Notes/Domino system for his 1,600 users. He, too, is checking into the new features in Notes and Domino 7.

"I've been impressed by the Version 7 server, the improved performance," Thomas said. "They're saying it provides 25% better CPU utilization over Version 6.5, and if that's true, it's very significant."

Barbara Hayes, a systems team leader for bedding manufacturer Sealy Inc. in Trinity, N.C., said she is looking to evaluate sales force automation software that her company can integrate into its Notes/Domino systems for the company's 1,500 users. Hayes is also eyeing a possible upgrade to Notes 7 from Version 6.5, and he hopes to gather information on what that would mean for Sealy. "I'm checking out what to look for, what are the new features, and what are the gotchas," Hayes said.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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