Lotus blooms with new built-in wireless functions

In an effort to make its mobile access products easier to implement, IBM Corp. will combine many erstwhile disparate wireless functions in its next release of Lotus Domino, the company’s messaging platform.

Domino Release 6 (R6), due out in September, will ship with Domino Everyplace built into the box. Everyplace blends myriad mobile actions, such as wireless e-mail synchronization with Lotus Notes, an e-mail program, and mobile access to corporate applications.

Everyplace on Domino R6 combines the functions of previously separate IBM applications. Everyplace for Mail, the first program to ship with R6 this fall, provides wireless synchronization between PDAs and personal information stored on Domino servers, such as e-mail and calendars. Everyplace SMS gives short messaging service-enabled devices access to similar information, while Everyplace for Applications – due next January – offers mobile access to corporate applications.

According to Mike Diplock with IBM Canada Ltd. the aim of combining wireless functions is two-fold. For one thing, IBM hopes to make life that much easier for mobile workers – people who need access to ever-changing e-mail accounts and personal calendars while travelling. But IBM also wanted to streamline its mobile access products to make life less stressful for IT managers.

“We wanted our customers to be able to manage and administrate the environment from a common facility,” Diplock said. “We didn’t want them to think of mobile and wireless access as some sort of separate add-on that they had to build and administer separately.”

To that end, IT managers will be able to control both mobile and traditional desk-bound employee access to e-mail, calendars and applications from one screen.

Alister Sutherland, an analyst with IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, said IBM is on the right track with integrated administration features.

“It will alleviate some management overhead,” he said, adding that the messaging market is saturated so any ease-of-use endeavour might help vendors like IBM gain further market share.

Ironically, IBM did not build wireless administration functionality into Domino R6. If you want to change user settings, you have to be in the office. But Roger Bell, senior technical sales specialist with IBM Canada, said it wouldn’t be difficult for programmers to build wireless administration applications. “It’s a matter of making the application into a WAP application, which means changing the layout of the program to be used with a WAP browser.”

Everyplace for Domino R6 is backwards compatible with Domino R5 platforms, Diplock said. An IBM representative said pricing would not be available until Q3 2002. For more information, consult IBM’s Web site at www.ibm.com.