Users welcome Notes 7.0 database support

Despite application and messaging data being traditionally siloed, users of IBM's Lotus Notes collaboration suite see benefits in consolidating the two in a DB2 database made possible with the release of version 7.0 last week.

Tennis Australia's IT manager Chris Simpfendorfer said there is potential for messaging and database integration at the organization, which has DB2 for the Australian Open tournament administration systems.

"We need to have a look at the full impact of consolidation," Simpfendorfer said, adding he is keen to get a test server of version 7.0 installed.

Simpfendorfer, who has been using version 7.0 of the Notes client for a month, said he will hold off upgrading the server until he is confident BlackBerry's mobility software is compatible with the release. Tennis Australia has 20 BlackBerry devices for field staff use.

"Version 7.0 is great," he said. "Some things that have always annoyed me have been corrected. For example, if Notes crashes it can be restarted without the need to reboot the computer."

Simpfendorfer has tried the Web client but for now, based on the way it works, still favours the fat client, particularly for regular use.

"Moving towards a Java or browser-based application is the way forward as more companies are writing applications in .Net or Java - it is a positive move," he said. "The difference between the two is becoming less and it's only things like drag and drop that feature in the fat client."

Simpfendorfer said the new version isn't as clunky as its predecessors and there is nothing missing that he would like to see.

"Follow-up is now well positioned under the folders so you can action on e-mails easier, which is really beneficial," he said, adding that he doesn't use the calendar because he has a Palm device and just replicates the data. "There are no significant differences and there just seem to be subtle changes and it is easier to use."

Puma Australia's information systems manager Ben Dallenger also believes DB2 integration is a positive step.

"IBM is starting to make more use of the database features in Notes," Dallenger said. "DB2 integration could certainly be of interest as we use DB2 for ERP and OLAP. This would make interchange of data and applications easier."

Puma is using version 6.5 now, and although Dallenger hasn't looked at version 7.0, one of his staff is looking into the timetable for the company's migration and implementation plans which is driven by Puma International as a company-wide contract.

"The Web mail is available but is very kludgy and arcane," he said. "IBM could make improvements in that area. We already use it for remote access, but it is not at all well architected."

Puma is using mNotes for replication to mobile devices which has been "quite successful".

"I'm not overly keen on BlackBerry which is just another asset to manage," he said. "Some of the mail filtering could be stronger [and] recovery of mail files can be troublesome. Other than that, Notes is a stable platform which is not as prone to viruses as Outlook. Overall we are pretty happy with it."

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