LOTUSPHERE - IT leaders find answers to problems

Among the 5,000 attendees from around the world at this week's IBM Lotusphere 2003 conference were IT leaders from six different user companies on separate but similar missions: to turn up answers to questions about improving their Lotus Notes and Domino operations.

Their needs are varied, from simplifying administration and systems management to solving unique problems that affect only their own business. But rather than seeking specialized answers from IBM Lotus, the fixes they sought were often found out on the exhibit hall floor, in the booths of smaller niche companies that build targeted add-ons for Notes and Domino.

James Greene, senior Lotus Notes infrastructure analyst at Duke Energy Corp., in Charlotte, N.C., was looking to solve the problem of e-mail storage in his company's IT systems, e-mails which are eating up massive amounts of storage space. One possibility is an idea he saw from PKWare Inc. in Brown Deer, Wis., which offers its PKZip Professional Edition 6.0, featuring integration with Notes.

The product automatically compresses and encrypts attachments using Notes, something that would reduce Duke Energy's e-mail storage needs and add desired e-mail security for the 25,000 Notes users and 5,000 Microsoft Exchange users Greene supports. "It seems that maybe using the attachment feature [to compress the file size], encrypting it and then sending it out may be the solution," Greene said. "I think it would help us out tremendously."

Pamela MacKinnon, lead application analyst at High Liner Foods Inc. in Nova Scotia, Canada, was looking for ways to expand workflow applications her company has begun using in the past 18 months. After trying workflow processes for performance management, new hiring and other areas, High Liner is now considering expanding its use for better efficiencies, she said. One product, ProcessIt from Teamwork Solutions in Columbus, Ohio, gave MacKinnon some ideas on building workflow applications inside Notes. And while the use of new applications is possible, she said, other options are also available.

"There may be other tools that would let us do it faster and more efficiently," she said.

Michael Bulis, program manager for industrial manufacturer Ingersoll-Rand Co., in Woodcliffe, N.J., wanted knowledge management improvements for Notes and Domino and was looking to cut maintenance costs by getting out of client-based applications. He was also looking at List Server for Domino 3.x products offered by Bright Ideas Software Inc. in Edison, N.J., which would allow him to streamline how users send out e-mail to multiple recipients.

Presently, some users send out broadcast e-mails that devour costly bandwidth. Instead, he'd like to set up listserves, which would reduce storage and message distribution needs. The changes, which Bulis wants to implement during the next five years, will affect about 25,000 users worldwide.

"I'm here to see what the future brings," he said. "Some of it is vaporware, but generally, half of vaporware makes it to reality, and if enough people [are interested in it], it will make it."

Nicholas Behrmann, global messaging manager at General Motors Corp., was perusing administration and management tools for Notes and Domino to help reduce costs and improve service.

Part of his mission was to look over tools being offered by smaller IT vendors that could be used by GM's outsourcing provider, Electronic Data Systems Inc. "I'd rather have them purchase a tool set, rather than reinvent the wheel," Behrmann said. Among the tools he checked out: Offerings from AedifiComm BV in the Netherlands, which sells a WorkplaceControl for Notes package.

Perry Hiltz, Lotus administrator at chemical company Henkel Corp. in Gulph Mills, Pa., has been looking to consolidate domains for Notes to reduce the complexity of his systems. One solution: the Common Migration Tool for Notes Domains package from BinaryTree Inc. in New York. Hiltz had learned about the package before attending the show.

"This basically does everything we've been doing in a manual way," he said. "It's a definitive solution for us" that allows Hiltz to conduct migration processes from his desk, without costly travel. Though it would cost $50,000 to deploy, the long-term savings would result in a payback, he said.

Then there was Joe Sise, Notes administrator at the Brunswick Boat Group in Knoxville, Tenn., who was looking at Notes management tools offered by DYS Analytics in Wellesley, Mass., and researching spam fixes for his 3,500 users.

"It's an increasing problem," he said. "We've tried to filter it to the best of our abilities. But it's like sand in your hand. You get some of it, but most of it falls through."

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