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Tools blossoming for Lotus Notes

Several systems management providers today embraced Lotus Notes through plans to extend their tools to help administrators manage Notes servers.

Several big name systems management providers today embraced Lotus Notes through plans to extend their tools to help administrators manage Notes servers.

BMC Software, Cabletron, Candle, Computer Associates, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Sun Microsystems, and Tivoli Systems will support Notes management architecture in a move that could give the product a market edge, according to Lotus. However, no timetable for inclusion of the Notes support into the management tools was announced.

The management tool makers will work closely with Lotus to tie Notes features into existing systems management capabilities including event management, threshold monitoring, and software distribution. Administrators will be able to integrate the new systems with the Notes tools that they already have.

The announcement, timed to coincide with the industry's Networld+Interop networking show in Atlanta, marks Lotus's latest assault on key competitor Microsoft and its Exchange.

"This is Lotus's attempt to one-up Microsoft," said Joyce Graff, an analyst with the Gartner Group. While Microsoft has come under frequent fire for producing products exclusive to the Windows NT environment, Lotus is taking a markedly different approach. Today's announcement will make Notes more attractive to users, especially those using the Hewlett-Packard and Tivoli systems, she said.

"People frequently want to plug new products [into] what they already have," said Graff, indicating that the strategy should help sales once the updated tools with Notes support hit the street.

While Microsoft Exchange 4.5 and Novell GroupWise 5 will make it to market first, Graff said she expects market share to remain more or less the same.

"GroupWise will stay firmly planted in third place," sustained mostly by loyal users of the company's NetWare network operating system, she said. Microsoft and Lotus "are running a vigorous horse race that will continue through the end of the century."

The next generation of Notes 4.5 is currently in beta and will ship in the fourth quarter, according to the company. The product will be pre-released in widespread customer distribution next week.

Lotus also said an update of its interactive Web application server Domino 1.5 is in beta testing and may be downloaded from the Domino web site. The new version is faster and boasts enhanced Web application development. The tool bring Notes' calendaring and scheduling to Web clients. It adds ActiveX support so that users may initiate server agents and attach files to pages and forms. Extended Web Server application supports allow for hosting several sites at once on a single server. Security has also been tightened, adding client authentication and file system access capabilities. Domino 1.5 will ship with Notes 4.5 in the forth quarter, the company said.

Lotus also plans to enhance Internet-based Notes management to support Sun Microsystems' Java Management API and is building Java applets to enable Notes and Domino administration from standard Web browsers or the Java Management Framework, in an effort to address its corporate intranet clients.