Lotus nabs two mega Notes buys

The installed base for Lotus Development Corp.'s messaging and groupware product recently expanded, as two federal agencies began rolling out the software to tens of thousands of users.

The Environmental Protection Agency will deploy Notes to cover 26,000 e-mail addresses, and the Army Battle Command System (ABCS) plans to move 10,000 to 20,000 users to the Defense Message System (DMS) version of Notes running on the Sun Microsystems Inc. Solaris platform. About 18,000 EPA employees as well as several thousand contractors will use the Notes/Domino platform. Some mailboxes will be assigned to equipment, such as conference room systems or equipment used for presentations,that is shared by multiple users said Rick Martin, director of the EPA's Enterprise Technology Services Division. Although some 5,000 EPA workers use Notes, around 19,000 users are equipped with Novell Inc.'s GroupWise e-mail platform, with the remaining users on other packages.

"The migration is going to require some planning and implementation and follow-up,'' said Jerry Slaymaker, senior adviser to the EPA's chief information officer. Slaymaker is heading the EPA's effort to assess the total cost of ownership of its information technology resources.

In an Oct. 14 memo, EPA CIO Al Pesachowitz said the agency chose Notes over GroupWise and Microsoft Corp.'s Exchange because, as the market leader, Notes "provides EPA with the best balance [of] risk, return and cost.''

Slaymaker said the agency already had decided to use Notes as its "strategic platform'' for agencywide administrative applications, adding that continuing to use other systems would have been too costly. The EPA decision to deploy Notes agencywide continues a contract the EPA signed with Lotus in 1996.

Martin said the EPA must finish installing Year 2000-compliant servers and Microsoft Windows 95 desktops throughout the agency before the migration to Notes begins, and users are being asked to wait for the next version of the software. However, he said, "if we've got customers dying to transition [to Notes], we're not going to stop them.''

Meanwhile, the ABCS will deploy the Notes DMS user agent for Solaris to give Solaris users access to DMS' military-grade security along with X.400 messaging and X.500 directory services. The Lotus DMS user agent also can run on Trusted Solaris, which is the more secure version of Sun's operating system.

Col. Robert Raiford, who works with the Army's DMS program, said tactical warfighters will use Notes DMS in the battlefield. "It is optimized for the mobile, disconnected user," he said. Solaris is a key strategic initiative for Lotus, said Keith Attenborough, Lotus' DMS product manager. The company will deliver the DMS Solaris server package next month and the Solaris client in the first half of next year, he said. The company also will port Lotus DMS software to AIX and deliver it in the second half of next year. Lotus sees significant opportunity in its battle with Microsoft for DMS users.

"We don't think the battle for DMS is over," Attenborough said. "We have not given up. We're still pitching; we believe we have value we can add. Lotus is the largest electronic messaging provider in the world, after all. We think we will end up being the vendor of choice. We are looking for the momentum to shift in 1999."

Attenborough is eager to differentiate between Lotus and Microsoft, which is Lotus' main competitor on the DMS contract. "The big difference between Microsoft and Lotus is that Microsoft views messaging as the top of the operating system pyramid, and Lotus views messaging as the bottom of the application stack," he said.

DMS Version 2.0A has been delivered to Lockheed Martin Corp. and will be in interoperability testing soon. It is expected to be available before the end of the year. Meanwhile, Version 2.0B, which has many new security features added, will be available soon.

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