Product Review: Dedicated AS/400 for Domino

Corporations today are struggling with the ever-growing hardware and support requirements of e-mail and collaborative applications. Although more powerful collaboration is increasing productivity, it often requires building a server farm to handle such demands. Fortunately, IBM has not only delivered state-of-the-art groupware tools with Lotus Development's Domino for the AS/400, Release 5.0.1, but the company has also eliminated the need for a server farm.

The new Domino release delivers a slew of new features and enhancements for not only the clients but also for the Designer utility and the server. The basic client has been updated mainly to support viewing of Microsoft Office 2000 documents, whereas the administration client received many notable additions. The most interesting is an Enhanced Internet Address Tool, which allows administrators to set the Internet addresses of multiple users simply by selecting them from the directory. The Designer has been updated with ease of use in mind. Aside from the the four Java applets (Editor, View, Outline, and Action Bar) having been recompiled with Java Development Kit 1.1.6, making them smaller and faster, the Editor applet now lets you cut, copy, and paste text from outside the applet.

From the server side of things, 56-bit encryption is now supported, as is the 56-bit DES encryption for international licenses of the Web server. Additionally, with a new API, administrators can now determine the state of a logged database or backup. And lest we forget security, a new feature has been added for importing Netscape Internet certificates into the Notes identification file.

Although the new features of Domino are something to marvel at, Domino gets even better on the AS/400. The limit of subsystem servers has been raised, so you can now operate up to 30 separate Domino servers on the same machine. Couple this with the fact that each runs independently -- allowing you to perform maintenance on one server without affecting the others -- and you have an administrator's dream. Further, Domino for the AS/400 includes "watchdog" jobs that monitor each subsystem for outages. Should a problem occur, the watchdog will restart the server.

If you're already considering a move to Domino on the AS/400 due to its proven availability, scalability, and reliability, then this new combination could prove irresistible. IBM has gone one step further and provided a hardware model specifically for the application. Built on the existing Northstar technology of the AS/400e Model 170 servers, the Dedicated Server for Domino offers a better price-performance ratio than other AS/400e Model 170 servers by devoting most of its processing power to Domino.

I tested Domino for the AS/400 on a Model 2708 Dedicated Domino Server. Beginning on the AS/400, I started up all the necessary TCP/IP servers as well as the Domino HTTP server through which I would configure the system by browser. I also had the option to do the setup from the familiar green screen command line.

Next, I fired up the Operations Navigator, a graphical desktop tool that lets you perform virtually every task on the machine using a Microsoft Windows-like interface.

After creating a shared drive from my AS/400 to my PC, I installed the necessary Operations Navigator plug-in for Domino and began my configuration. By simply performing a right mouse-click on the Domino entry under the Server section, I was prompted to create a new Domino server via a six-page browser-based method. To test the subsystem partitioning, I chose to create multiple servers, each as different domains, and was able to accomplish this easily by choosing to create a new partition under the Advanced Services section of the form. Additionally, if I had wanted to enable news readers via Network News Transfer Protocol, or DECS for providing access to non-Notes data, all I needed to do was select the News Readers option.

Although I found the flow of entry to be simple enough using the browser-based approach, some pages required scrolling back to the top to proceed to the next step.

Moving my attention back to the Operations Navigator, I was pleased to find that I could start and stop the servers, add applications, and even perform server administration without much effort, via a simple right mouse-click on each partitioned server. Finally, firing up my Notes client, I was able to put my fears to rest by exercising all of the functions known to groupware users including mail, calendar, and to-do lists, to name a few.

So, whether you're looking at the AS/400 for a Dedicated Domino Server, or just as a more reliable platform on which to base your groupware, I would strongly recommend looking at both the Dedicated Domino Server and this new release of Domino for the AS/400. Both will save your company money by easing administration, as well as less by ensuring less downtime.

Tim Fielden is a senior technology analyst at InfoWorld. Send him e-mail at tim_fielden@infoworld.com.

THE BOTTOM LINE: EXCELLENT

Lotus Domino for AS/400, Release 5.0.1

Summary: Companies looking to provide reliable and scalable groupware functionality should definitely consider both the Dedicated Domino Server and this newest release of Domino for the AS/400.

Business Case: The AS/400 provides the reliability that groupware requires. The capability to handle 30 separate servers on one machine and simple browser-based administration make it an excellent investment.

Pros:

+ Easy administration and configuration

+ Additional functionality not found on other platform implementations+ Lower administration costs+ Capability to partition servers on same machineCons:

- Need to scroll to top of page during browser-based configurationCost: Hardware: starts at $11,000. Software: IBM Licensed Program Product, $1,865Platform(s): OS/400 V4R4 (Dedicated Domino Server), OS/400 V4R2 or higher (Standard AS/400s)IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y.; (800) 426-3333 www.as400.ibm.com/domino

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