RealTime IT News

Intranet Vendors Upbeat About Indian Market

The onset of the Internet and hence that of the Internet cultures has sent technology enthusiasts and software developers into paroxysms of delight.

For some time now, everyone has been extolling the virtues of networking and networked computing and the Wonder World of the Web.

But it has also set leaders like Microsoft changing tack, and even its rivals--Lotus and Novell rethinking survival tactics.

Lotus, for one, did have a dream-run with Lotus Notes, a groupware solution, in the early '90s.

Then up popped the Internet and the intranet which seemed to make so much sense for the Indian market-- with its huge geography that necessitated intra-company networking and the potential for using Web technologies; all independent of a public network like the Internet.

According to a senior official at Lotus Corp India, "The intranet is merely an opportunity. We had been successful in performing the functions of the now-called Intranet much before its conception."

"It was merely that we were doing it in a proprietary fashion. Once customers felt the need for HTML, we 'Internetised' our products."

"Now, the user is transparent to the type of document that he stores or retrieves from the Domino server. It could be a HTML image or a Notes document. All are equally compatible."

Despite all the tinkering that had gone into Lotus Notes and the server software, the official maintains, "We needed to complement the Intranet, but the real strength lay in retaining all the initial functions of Notes. For instance, the replication of databases takes place in periodic intervals."

"Unlike other groupware technologies, Lotus Notes actually updates only the changes that have taken place and not the whole database itself."

"Lotus was smart enough to recognize the change in the environment and bring forth structural changes," said A. Sundareshan of Microland (a Lotus distributor), "In the battle between the Web and groupware technologies, the customer would gain by using groupware like Notes if his requirements include messaging, replication and workflow facilities. Otherwise, if publishing is the primary function, then the Web is the ideal choice."

The race continues. The Web has brought in collaborative elements available in traditional groupware technologies. How this will wash down with the Indian corporates remains to be seen.

The sentiment is echoed by a Notes user. G. Raman, senior manager, corporate information systems at (ABB) Asea Brown Boveri, says, "ABB internationally has placed its bet on Lotus Notes. Ditto for India."

Adds Raman, "What we find particularly useful is that we can store documents as databases and not as merely attachment to mail messages. So, if my colleagues in the US, Germany and Australia wish to interact with me on the content of a particular document, then over a period of time, we keep making changes to the document in database form on a 24 hour schedule."

Novell has also showed a healthy growth in the groupware market.

Onward Novell India--the joint venture between Onward Technologies and Novell Inc--is upbeat about the market in India.

According to an official, "In addition to introducing Intranetware--a sequel to Netware 4.11--we consider the Novell Directory Services (NDS) as a cornerstone of Novell's Intranet strategy. We are pursuing the leadership position in the Intranet arena with an aim to making the NDS the defacto standard."

As intranets encourage the sharing of information across a corporation--and beyond its bounds--collaborative applications become the technology that drives a real business return on an investment.