The onset of the Internet and hence that of the Internet cultures has sent technology enthusiasts and software developers into paroxysms of
For some time now, everyone has been extolling the virtues of
networking and networked computing and the Wonder World of the Web.
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
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
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
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.