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How can users roam between sites and access their IDs and desktop files with a local Notes install?

My company runs Lotus Notes from a network node install because users can roam between sites and access their ID and desktop files. I would like to run the Lotus Notes client locally. Do you have any suggestions on how the roaming ability can be enabled with a local Notes install? I am also concerned with the backup of critical Lotus Notes client files. Since the files are on a server today, they get backed up centrally. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.
The Lotus Notes roaming feature performs the operations you are presently using via a Node Install.

In a network node install, the Notes clients are configured so that the Notes Data directory typically points to the users home or profile drive stored on a server. The Notes software is configured the same on each workstation so that the Notes client expects the data directory to be something like "P:Data." This means that irrespective of who logs into the workstation, the Notes client will always look to that login's P:Data directory to retrieve files like the ID, Address Book, Bookmark database, Journal, etc.

There are several differences between the Notes native roaming feature and running Notes via a network:

  1. Configuring Notes users
  2. Storage of Notes client files/backup operations
  3. Notes client configuration
  4. Network traffic requirements
To describe these operations:
  1. Configuring Notes users
    Network node: Each user is created as a standard user. Users' Person documents in the Domino directory, mail databases and ID files are created during registration. Address Books, Bookmark databases and other user specific files (cache, desktop, headlines, log, etc.) are created during the client configuration on the workstation and will be stored in the profile path.

    Roaming user: Many of the client files are created during registration, the Address Book and Bookmarks are created on the Domino server, typically in the Roaming directory configured by the Domino administrator. This type of user is activated simply by clicking the "User can roam" option in the user registration dialog box.

  2. Storage of client files/backup operations
    In the Notes Network Node install, client files are all stored on the FILE server, usually in the users Home/Profile network share. Since these files are located on a file server, rather than the client workstation, it is possible to back up these files during a normal scheduled backup regime.

    In a Roaming Install, Notes client files are stored inside the DOMINO server's data directory, typically in the "Roaming" directory configured by the administrator. Backing up these files then becomes part of the normal Domino server backup regime.

  3. Notes client configuration
    The biggest difference between the Notes Roaming option and Network Node option is the way the Notes client is configured.

    Network node: Notes client is set up once for each user, irrespective of which machine the user accesses Lotus Notes through. All files are stored on the Network File server.

    Roaming user: Notes client files are stored on the Domino Server. The first time a user starts Lotus Notes on a client workstation, the client will run the "roaming setup," which asks the user to enter their Domino Server name, their user name, their user password. Once authenticated, the client files are replicated to the local workstation. Depending on the "clean up" options set by the Domino administrator for roaming users, if the user never accesses another workstation, they will not see this process again. Replication normally occurs on a schedule, and at Notes client shutdown to ensure that the users local changes are updated on the server in case they use a different workstation to access Notes.

  4. Network traffic requirements
    Possibly the main reason you would switch from Network Node to Notes Roaming.

    When the Notes client runs from the network, all "local" operations (address book lookups, for example) are actually performed across your network, increasing network traffic and utilization.

    When Notes roaming is implemented, besides the initial configuration and periodic replication (which, remember, is only exchanging changes/updates, etc.), all "local" operations are performed on the client workstation, thus your overall network load is dramatically decreased.

Network installs were originally implemented to allow users to transparently move from machine to machine and have their notes client configuration follow them. Since their client files were then server-based, rather than workstation-based, backups of users local data was made easier to manage by their administrators.

The Notes Roaming feature has the slight disadvantage that moving to a new workstation is not as transparent as using Network Profile paths to store local configuration files. Users do require (minimal) training so that they are aware of their roaming server's name during configuration on a new workstation; however, the network, response and redundancy (i.e., storing client configuration files locally removes another "point of failure") benefits provided by this installation make it worth the move.

Points to remember while changing configuration:

  1. Prepare your users for the change by notifying them about the pending "upgrade notification."

  2. Static users are transformed into roaming users via the Domino administrator using the "Roaming" tool from the "people" view of the "People and Groups" tab.

  3. Give the users time to respond to the upgrade request, so that their Domino directory person documents are modified successfully.

  4. The Notes roaming feature relies on the Notes client software being installed with the "multi-user" option selected during setup.

  5. Turn scheduled replication "on" for the workstations so that even if a user does not replicate at shutdown, most -- if not all -- changes during the session will be synchronized with their roaming server.
I am now using "Roaming" as a standard configuration option when installing most new clients and have already moved many existing clients to a roaming setup. I doesn't matter if the users are on "static" workstations, the roaming feature now enables me to create server-based backups of important files (Address book, Bookmarks, IDs, etc.) without having to worry about some sort of network configuration -- "Operating system policies" or "login/off scripts" -- to handle the transfer of local databases and config files to the server.

Thoroughly recommended.

This was first published in April 2006

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