With Version 7 of the Lotus Domino server and Notes client, IBM continues to make the case for an integrated collaboration and application platform. Released in the second half of last year, IBM Lotus Notes and Domino 7 is available through six different licensing options, each offering its own set of messaging, collaboration and database application capabilities. The Enterprise Server edition, which eWEEK Labs tested, costs $3,705 per processor.IBM also offers per-user pricing for smaller organizations, with the $96-per-user Messaging Express and the $133-per-user Collaboration Express. Collaboration Express allows organizations to run messaging and collaboration features, as well as database applications, while Messaging Express provides messaging, calendar and scheduling applications.Domino compares favorably in price with its two closest competitors: Novell Inc.s GroupWise 7.0, which costs $130 per user, and Microsoft Corp.s Exchange 2003, which costs $3,999 per server for the Enterprise Edition and $67 per user. Most of the major improvements in this release of Lotus Notes and Domino affect administrators and developers. However, IBM has made a number of improvements for end users as well, making Version 7 an excellent upgrade for existing Notes and Domino shops. For companies looking for a messaging solution, Notes and Domino is the most flexible one available. Not only does Domino run on a wide range of operating systems and server hardware, but it also provides a platform for delivering database-driven applications, e-mail and group calendaring, scheduling, and instant messaging. Furthermore, the integration between the Notes client and IBMs IM and Web conferencing application, Lotus Sametime 7, is very well done. More effective management Domino is now less costly to manage because of improvements IBM has made to the servers unified, domainwide administration and policy-based management, as well as to the Notes clients remote update capability. Click here to read reviews of four groupware servers that support a wide range of OS, Web and desktop-client options. During tests, eWEEK Labs could manage an entire group of Domino servers using the Domino Administrator client through domain monitoring. The Administrator client allowed us to create a unified administration database for multiple servers on a single server. We also could monitor databases on a domainwide basis so that we could view database access across replicas of databases on other servers. Domain monitoring also allows administrators to create probes that check database ACL (access control list) security across multiple databases. Domino now supports private whitelists and blacklists, as well as DNS (Domain Name System) whitelists, to help companies manage spam. While we believe companies should dedicate most of the messaging security efforts at the network perimeter, these new features give companies a way to easily add another layer of protection at the server level. Dominos ability to manage Notes client updates and policies makes it unique in the way the entire client/server architecture can be managed without the need for third-party tools. IBM introduced remote client updates and policies in Version 6; in Version 7, IBM has made some enhancements that bring the tool up to par with dedicated third-party applications. For example, with Version 7 we could set thresholds to limit the number of client downloads from a single server. We also could set up failover servers and take advantage of clustering. Domino now supports user-modifiable policies. This allows administrators to create and manage Notes and Domino Web Access client policies from the server but still give users the ability to customize the client to their work preferences. Next Page: Broad client support.