Can Lotus Notes/Domino and Microsoft SharePoint play nice together?


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As companies transition from employing Generation X to Generation Y workers, use of collaboration software such as Lotus Quickr and Microsoft SharePoint is beginning to gain steam for project and document management. For enterprises that rely solely on Lotus Notes/Domino and Lotus Quickr, the ability for individuals to share information is relatively straightforward and seamless. But even in Domino shops, new applications are cropping up virally that administrators must deal with. Windows SharePoint Server (WSS) 2003 is one such example.

Because Microsoft Office 2003 has WSS built in, a department or group often creates a SharePoint site because they had access to the technology. When this occurs, Notes/Domino administrators must decide which is more important: maintaining a single platform enterprise or finding a coexistence strategy.

"The coexistence strategy comes into play if there's a heavy-duty influencer who insists on using SharePoint."

"The coexistence strategy comes into play if, for whatever reason, it's too difficult to rebuild or there's a heavy-duty influencer who has some political swing and insists on using SharePoint," said Bill Pray, an analyst for the Burton Group. There also might be some value to the SharePoint implementation that makes it difficult for an organization to standardize on a single platform.

Lotus Notes/Domino and MOSS 2007

Bringing Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS 2007) into a Notes organization is a conscious decision, rather than one that happens virally via Microsoft Office. In fact, some organizations have chosen to implement MOSS 2007 instead of Quickr. From a collaboration standpoint, "SharePoint architecture and functionality is better," said Adwait Ullal, an enterprise architect with AumSoft Consultants. AumSoft is currently working with a client in the financial market that uses Lotus Notes for its email and MOSS 2007 for enterprise collaboration.

Although some companies run both Lotus Notes and MOSS 2007 peacefully within their environments without integration, AumSoft's client is currently using Notes and SharePoint separately. "There were no use cases or scenarios where integration between email and collaboration was necessary," noted Ullal.

In other instances, integrating Lotus Notes and Microsoft SharePoint can help create a seamless flow for file-sharing and document repository/management. Conversely, organizations using both without integrating can struggle with several incompatibility issues related to document sharing and calendars, contacts and paths.

Since there's no way to easily share documents from SharePoint to Notes or Sametime, users must copy and paste documents from one to the other. Another issue is that calendars, contacts and paths in Lotus Notes have no relation to a user's calendars, contacts and paths in the SharePoint workspace. Not only do these issues create additional steps for users, but they also diminish the effectiveness and ultimate reason for using any document management solution.

Choosing between a third-party tool or development time

There are basically two ways to get Lotus Notes/Domino and Microsoft SharePoint to play nice in order to reap the full benefits of collaboration: Use a third-party tool or turn to your developer. "If you do it on your own, you're going to invest significant development time," said Pray. "If you have good developers that are skilled in .NET, you can do it." IBM's article on Integrating Lotus Notes/Domino data with Microsoft SharePoint Services can offer some help.

Third-party integration tools, such as Mainsoft Corp.'s SharePoint Integrator for Lotus Notes/Domino, Quest Software Inc.'s Notes Integrator for SharePoint and the Longitude Notes Connector from BA–Insight.net connect MOSS 2007 with Lotus Notes/Domino.

Boca Raton, Fla.-based Champion Software Group tested both MOSS 2007 and Quickr before deciding on MOSS 2007 for its collaboration software. But because the company was already heavily invested in Sametime, it needed something that could integrate Lotus Notes and Sametime with MOSS, noted Bill Phelps, Champion Solution Group's chief technology officer.

The company plans to deploy Mainsoft's SharePoint Integrator for Lotus Notes to take advantage of functionality that lets users initiate a Sametime chat with a SharePoint document creator or other people listed in SharePoint document fields. Users can also drop and drag document links into Sametime instant messaging (IM) windows. In addition, the tool allows users to open SharePoint document libraries via a Notes sidebar.

If your Lotus Notes/Domino shop has just a few WSS 2003 sites that have cropped up virally, full-on integration may not make sense, Pray said. Small SharePoint implementations can remain in existence or easily be rebuilt in Lotus Quickr if it's selected as the collaboration software of choice. But it's difficult to move data and recreate spaces for several users from SharePoint to Quickr, he added, so be sure you know what collaboration software you need before you decide that a full Lotus Notes/MOSS 2007 integration strategy is the best for you.

Michelle Boisvert is the Features Editor for SearchDomino.com and SearchExchange.com.

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This was first published in December 2008

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