Package Targets Exchange

IBM's iNotes access software consolidates Microsoft mail platform on fewer servers, adds Domino functions

IBM is after Microsoft Corp.s Outlook and Exchange installed base.

The Armonk, N.Y., computer company last week rolled out a package that will enable users of the Microsoft messaging software to consolidate operations on fewer servers using a groupware platform from its Lotus Development Corp. subsidiary.

Lotus Domino iNotes Access for Microsoft Outlook, unveiled at IBMs Partner World show in Atlanta, is a connector that allows users to consolidate Exchange servers onto one IBM eServer iSeries Dedicated Server for Domino without changing the look and feel of their Outlook clients.

In addition to providing more functionality through Domino, the package should decrease the need to hire IT personnel to manage server farms since IT organizations typically run one Exchange application on one server, IBM officials said. iSeries provides the capability to run multiple iterations of a mail server and to balance the performance between mail servers. It also enables IT managers to bring down and maintain a single mail server without affecting other mail servers.

Outlook users gain access to Domino features, including automatic replication of data on mobile devices; Domino messaging; full-text search capability; offline services; and support for Internet standards such as SMTP, Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension and HTML.

IBM is looking to tap an estimated 50 million Outlook users worldwide.

Microsoft customers typically have five or more Exchange servers, with some large enterprises having hundreds, according to industry estimates provided by IBM. Each Exchange server handles between 100 and 600 clients.

However, IBMs eServer iSeries Dedicated Server for Domino can handle from 1,000 to 10,000 e-mail and calendar users, officials said.

Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., is skeptical that IBM can host the software on Domino without Outlook users losing some functionality because Exchange uses storage groups and multiple databases. But the appeal to users is obvious.

"When you reduce the number of servers, you reduce the number of technical expertise staff," said Bill Stapelfeldt, director of technology at Bayshore National Bank, in La Porte, Texas.

"If you accomplish the same thing with less hardware, then youre in a better position, or youll make IT management much easier," Stapelfeldt said.

One Exchange user has already decided he wants to implement the connector, although he hasnt yet persuaded his bosses to go along.

"I tend to be bleeding-edge, but they tend to be more cautious," said Sam Avera, a technical architect in the Washington Department of Social and Health Services, in Olympia. "But I dont see how they could think this is a bad deal, I really dont."