SAN MATEO (01/28/2000) - LINUX CONTINUES to pick up steam with cost-conscious IT administrators, but the availability of Linux-based applications will play a consequential role in determining its long-range potency as a viable deployment platform.
Breathing life into groupware efficacy for Linux is industry leader Lotus Development Corp. With the release of Domino R5 Server for Linux, Lotus brings messaging infrastructure and Web application deployment to Linux that was previously only available for more costly operating systems. Because Domino R5 is compatible with Domino on different platforms, it becomes a perfect solution for mid-to large-size IT shops currently running Domino or Lotus Notes to integrate low-cost load balancing and redundancy with a centralized point of management.
Domino for Linux packs the same solid feature set offered in the heavyweight OS versions, such as transaction logging for seamless fail-over recovery, improved Internet messaging protocols, and LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) and security support.
On the downside, especially for smaller companies, Domino R5 falls short of integrating client-side tools for administration, application development, or Notes, all of which are available for the Microsoft Windows platform.
Domino for Linux offers three server configurations to meet your deployment needs. The Mail Server and Application Server can be purchased separately or together in an Enterprise bundle that offers bolstered support for server clustering (up to eight) and a greater number of CPUs.
Domino could benefit from improved installation instruction. I found the documentation sketchy, and the absence of even an initial Readme file might leave some newcomers stumped. Out of Lotusphere has come word that this issue will be addressed in short order.
Once over that hurdle, however, the setup ran cleanly from a shell install routine, providing both a prescripted and an interactive approach to customizable server installation. Domino started its HTTP Web services to simplify setup with a browser-based configuration screen rather than relying solely on a command line.
The Mail Server provided a well-integrated set of tools that will improve end-user productivity, including e-mail, scheduling, a calendar, and newsgroups. Domino R5 improves support for Internet messaging services and Web application protocols by including IMAP4 (Internet Messaging Access Protocol 4), SMTP, POP3, SMIME (Secure MIME), as well as native LDAP integration and security features for X.509 certificates and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) transactions.
Despite the absence of a Linux Notes client, the Mail Server is accessible through a variety of mail clients, including Netscape Mail, Microsoft Outlook, Eudora, and even Notes versions running on other platforms.
The Web Application Server boasts an impressive array of back-end resource connectors -- Domino Enterprise Connection Services, or DECS -- that will allow businesses to better leverage enterprise data and resources for improved collaborative capabilities across the enterprise. DECS can access databases, such as Oracle, Sybase, DB2, SAP, EDA/SQL, or any ODBC-compliant base. DECS further provides support for advanced transaction system processing and ERP (enterprise resource planning) application integration, with IIOP (Internet Inter-ORB Protocol) for browser-based CORBA implementations.
The Web-based administrator tool offers access for managing the server's comprehensive feature set. Although this Java-based tool offers a somewhat sluggish performance compared with the Windows-based Administrator client, it provides everything you need to keep your Domino installation running smoothly.
I was impressed by the ease and flexibility of Domino R5's administrative and monitoring capabilities. Everything from security and new user setup to disk quotas can be transacted from the console, even across different platforms, servers, and domains. I could perform database and server maintenance without ever taking the server offline.
Although Domino is slated to support additional commercial Linux releases, such as SuSE and TurboLinux, currently only Caldera and Red Hat Software have been given the Lotus seal of approval.
Without real competitors on the Linux platform, Domino R5 is the most cost-effective solution for implementing new messaging and Web application deployments, as well as for building redundancy into existing heterogeneous installations. To begin reaping immediate benefits from quick deployment of a flexible end-user messaging solution, without draining the corporate coffers in the process, I would recommend Domino R5 for Linux.
James R. Borck (email@example.com) appears frequently in InfoWorld and is Director of IS for Industrial Art & Science, in Connecticut.
THE BOTTOM LINE: VERY GOOD
Domino R5 Server for Linux
Summary: Domino R5 needs better installation instruction, but it is quick to configure, deploy, and learn. With great scalability, fail-over transactional integrity, and improved Internet protocol support, Domino R5 is a solid groupware solution.
Business Case: This release gives IT shops a Linux-based groupware solution that is economical to deploy. It lacks the native client-side tools for administering or developing applications, but it provides reliable mail and application server capabilities.
+ Low-cost infrastructure investment
+ Easy to install and configure
+ Centralized administration
- No Notes Client
- Web-based administration only
Cost: Domino Mail Server, $695; Domino Web Application Server, $1,795; Domino R5 Enterprise Server, $4,995Platform(s): Red Hat Linux 6.0+, Caldera OpenLinux 2.2+Lotus Development Corp., Cambridge, Mass.; (800) 465-6887; www.lotus.com