BOSTON -- On day one of the Admin2002 Lotus Notes and Domino administrators' conference, one of Lotus' top executives expressed enthusiasm and confidence in its latest software, but Domino some admins were hesitant to share in Lotus' exuberance.
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Scott Cooper, vice president of Lotus solutions and software for the Cambridge, Mass.-based IBM unit, officially kicked off the three-day event by not only highlighting several of Lotus' recent achievements in his keynote address, especially its upcoming release of Notes and Domino 6, but by also pledging that Lotus has not repeated the mistakes it made when it released Domino R5.
"(Domino) 5.0 wasn't deployable on a large scale," Cooper said. "On R5, we swung at a pitch and missed," he added, referencing the difficulty many administrators encountered while implementing R5 due to various bugs that plagued its initial releases.
Despite Cooper's assurance that Domino 6 will be scalable and lack R5's flaws, some of the 1,200 administrators who attended the annual event, which was sponsered by the Notes and Domino technical journal The View, expressed reluctance about embracing a new and unproven Domino release.
Jeremy Archer, a Notes and Domino administrator with the National Basketball Association in New York, said he is somewhat interested in version 6, but his company implemented R5 less than a year ago and is still working on R5 projects.
"We're bringing up an SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) gateway to blacklist certain e-mails," said Archer, which he said will hopefully cut down on unwanted spam e-mail. "Everyone likes to send e-mail to email@example.com, but it doesn't exist!"
Archer, who once worked for Lotus, said it is difficult to roll out a new version of Domino in a standard environment until the fourth or fifth release, by which time most of the bugs have been ironed out.
"From working there, I've come to learn the marketing hype can go way beyond what the technical feasibility is of rolling some of these new products out," Archer said.
Steve Jenkins, the Notes manager for the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston, plans to migrate his 12,000 end users from R4 to R5 in the next few months. He considered going directly from R4 to Domino 6, but he said the process was too daunting.
"Going from four to six seemed like it was too big of a gap," Jenkins said. "Plus, six is still in beta, and we're very leery of that."
Jenkins was also worried that his R4 environment wasn't pristine enough for Domino 6 because his infrastructure once supported 28 different messaging systems. He said it took five years to collapse them all and consolidate his user base on R4.
Jenkins added that he may be interested in Domino 6 at some point if it allows him to reduce his total cost of ownership by eliminating other applications, but he does not yet have a feel for that because the product is too new.
Marco Formigal, a messaging systems manager who asked SearchDomino to withhold his company's name, said his firm would not upgrade to Domino 6 for at least a year.
"Even though (Lotus) says it is supposed to be much more stable than R5, we want to see what happens," especially regarding the frequency of follow-up releases, Formigal said.
His company currently runs Domino R5.08. After a dreadful experience implementing R5.03, he said he is reluctant to abandon what has proven to be the most stable R5 release so far.
Despite much hesitance to move to Domino 6, attendees were still interested in learning about its new features at the conference.
Kim Claiborne, a Washington D.C.-based computing specialist who works for a federal government agency, said she is interested in learning about Domino 6 during the conference.
Claiborne said ideally Domino 6 will reduce the number of tedious steps R5 requires in order to support users, and said she hopes the new release will enhance centralization in the admin client. She said she expects to upgrade to Domino 6 approximately 12 to 18 months from now.
Yuri Romero, information systems director with L&E Packaging in Greensboro, N.C., said the biggest question about R6 for him is cost. He questioned whether a company with less than $60 million in annual revenue could afford an upgrade to Domino 6.
Romero said his company is currently running Domino R5 and uses it for messaging and workflow. He said in the future he hopes to implement Lotus' Sametime instant messaging product using Domino 6.
"People don't like change that much," said Mark Muklebust, a Notes and Domino administrator with IBM who is based in Boulder, Colo.
Muklebust said Domino 6 uptake would likely be slow because that has been the pattern previous Domino releases have followed, and he sees nothing that would indicate a change.
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