Microsoft Corp. and IBMs Lotus Software division are each touting reductions in the total cost of ownership of corporate messaging systems as the primary benefit for upgrading to their respective messaging platforms.
Microsoft, at its Exchange Conference in Anaheim, Calif., this week, will unveil more information about the next version of its Exchange messaging software, much of which will center on reducing TCO.
Separately, Lotus last week began shipping Version 6 of its Notes and Domino corporate messaging platform, which offers new support for server consolidation and new tools for policy-based administration and automated upgrades.
On the usability side, Version 6 adds support for color-coding incoming messages for better in-box management and shared calendaring and scheduling, said officials at an event at Lotus headquarters here last week. The upgrade also adds native anti-spam tools as well as improved mail archiving and journaling capabilities.
There is better integration with the other Lotus products, as well as IBM products such as WebSphere Application Server, Tivoli management software and the DB2 database. Domino 6 also has improved support for Microsofts Active Directory and for open standards such as Java 2 Enterprise Edition and XML.
Meanwhile, the Exchange upgrade, code-named Titanium and expected to ship in mid-2003, will feature support for shadow backups—keeping messages, calendar items and other Exchange data stored locally with periodic server synchronizations. Enhanced Messaging API support provides better data compression, which results in fewer bytes of data being exchanged between the Outlook client and Exchange Server.
Both of these improvements will boost server consolidation, Microsoft officials said. The Redmond, Wash., company expects its Titanium deployment will reduce the number of Exchange mailbox servers it uses from 110 to around 20.
Security enhancements in Titanium will include Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension signing and encrypting for Outlook. The server will block spam "beacons" embedded in e-mail messages that send replies automatically to identify an account as active.
Keith Glass, an independent IT consultant in Manassas, Va., who recently upgraded a client site to Exchange 2000, was skeptical of Microsofts claims of future security improvements.
"Considering that its been Microsoft code at the core of the vast majority of security incidents, any improvement is welcome," said Glass. "Question is, will it be sufficient? As for Outlook, the less said of the premier virus vector on the Net, the better. Unless it ships and installs locked down, and only by definite and positive action by the user to allow active content in e-mail, its a clear and present danger to any network."
Outlook upgrades will include condensed message retrieval from dial-up connections for faster performance and HTTP tunneling for remote procedure calls. Titanium will support eight-node clustering for improved reliability and availability. Most IT shops using Exchange Advanced Server have two-node clustering, Microsoft officials said, although Exchange Data Center Server supports four-node clustering.
Diane Poremsky, president of CDOLive LLC, a Microsoft messaging and collaboration consultancy in Johnson City, Tenn., did not see the value in the enhanced clustering.
"I think everything except clustering will be a hit, assuming it all works as planned," Poremsky said, noting that Microsoft has removed planned features in midbeta before.