Lotus Development Corp., joining a growing legion of software companies trying to expand their market share to small-business customers, released the long-awaited iNotes Web Access product this month.
The product, which had been announced in October and expected to ship early this year, is a Web browser client providing access to the messaging and collaborative applications of the Lotus Domino server. It includes the Domino replication/synchronization engine, which allows for offline use, and Lotus Sametime, for instant messaging. Because of its ease of deployment, centralized management and minimal user training costs, iNotes Web Access is aimed at smaller enterprises with limited IT resources.
"We think many smaller companies will look at lower-end mail," Lotus CEO Al Zollar said at a Lotus Sametime chat with reporters last month. "Our iNotes Web Access product will give us greater alternatives here."
The product is suitable for companies looking to offer Web access to Domino messaging systems or extend messaging services to new users. Lotus will also target messaging application service providers and Internet service providers.
Enterprises seeking a full-featured version of Notes deployed via the Web may be disappointed. Wachovia Corp., in Winston-Salem, N.C., said it hoped iNotes Web Access could save it deployment costs over the standard Notes client. But most of the banks 13,000 Notes users needed features such as OLE and calendar sharing that iNotes Web Access didnt provide. "If youre using Notes just for e-mail and calendaring, iNotes Web Access is a good choice," said Steve Holman, assistant vice president for Internet architectures at Wachovia. "But if youre using more full-featured applications for workflow and collaboration, you need the full client."
Still, Holman said, iNotes Web Access is an improvement over Lotus R5 Webmail, since it isnt slowed by Java applets. He said the company was able to extend mobile and home Notes access to employees—which many wanted—without the cost of issuing laptops or installing client software.
Lotus, of Cambridge, Mass., will find competition in the space. Microsoft Corp. has beaten it to the punch with the release of Exchange 2000 Outlook Web Access last October. In addition, Ipswitch Inc. and Sendmail Inc. released messaging products designed for small to midsize businesses late last month.
Ipswitch, of Lexington, Mass., released Version 7.0 of its iMail product, adding Web calendaring, Secure Sockets Layer encryption support, spell checking, real-time usage statistics and localization to what had been more of a bare-bones e-mail server targeted at companies that cant afford full-fledged groupware systems.
Meanwhile, Web-based messaging pioneer Sendmail, of Emeryville, Calif., announced last month that its Sendmail Mobile Message Server is now available on Windows NT and Windows 2000. Previously, the product supported only Unix.