A System for Managing Organizational Knowledge
The greatest asset of any company, large or small, is the body of information and knowledge that enables it to stay in business; to be competitive. Knowledge is the familiarity, awareness, or understanding gained through experience or through the study of facts and information. Information is the material representation of knowledge.
Knowledge flows through and within organizations in a variety of ways. In some it is strictly hierarchical, where knowledge only passes upward through a chain of command. In others, knowledge flows between professionals in a more ad hoc fashion. In all cases, however, knowledge is the lifeblood of the organization.
Data is gathered, analyzed, and then interpreted, creating knowledge. Knowledge is disseminated, aggregated, evaluated, and decisions are made. In today's economy, both service and manufacturing companies alike either survive or fail based upon leadership, upon their ability to execute, and upon key business decisions that they make. These critical decisions are to a great extent driven by the quality and timeliness of the knowledge fed into the decision-making process and to the decision-makers themselves.
The flow of knowlege creates the essential business processes of any organization. Sales, customer service, product development and all other business processes are enabled not just by the flow of traditional transactions, but also by the sharing of knowledge -- how best to win the bid, how best to solve the customer's problem, how best to design the new product. As these processes are speeded or the quality of the decisions enhanced, money is saved and customers are better served. It is here that the flow of knowledge becomes the flow of profit.
A Technical White Paper
Information is worthless if it isn't available to those who need or could use it. If one person is in possession of knowledge about a given subject, and that person either doesn't want to or can't share it with someone else who could use that information, the information has far less value than if it is available to all needy or interested recipients.
Knowledge is a company's most valuable asset
; but the larger a company gets, the more likely it is that knowledge can't be shared with those who could use it to help the company. In order to be useful, a company's knowledge must be stored in such a way that it is readily accessible to those who need it most.
In order to make the best use of the knowledge at its disposal, an organization should develop an information strategy appropriate for the structure and dynamics of the corporation. Such a strategy must take into account where knowledge is generated within the organization and how it flows through the organization. It must also take into account the political nature of the organization, that is, the hierarchical or autonomous nature of decision making.
A critical part of the company's information strategy should be the use of technology in order to implement portions of the strategy. Due to the fact that there is now widespread use of personal computers in both the entry and analysis of raw data (databases, spreadsheets, charting) as well as the on-line handling of interpersonal correspondence (word processors and electronic mail), it is both appropriate and appealing to use PCs as a major component of the information strategy.
Information Strategy versus Database and Messaging Strategies
A new class of system is emerging today to address the need for managing an organization's knowledge. Lotus Notes is the leading example of such a system, although a number of other offerings known as groupware, document management or workflow software are addressing segments of this need as well. These systems have emerged because traditional tools are not designed to support the creation, flow, and tracking of information in direct support of business activities, which is the essence of a knowledge worker's job. Lotus Notes can be viewed as an extension of traditional tools, such as relational databases and messaging systems, with an architecture designed specifically to support the management and sharing of knowledge. Rather than competing with database or messaging systems, Lotus Notes is built to complement and to connect with them.
Traditional database systems have become the backbone of most corporate information systems. They are designed to manage the tabular information generated by business operations such as order processing, inventory control, and payroll management. These applications are data-centric; that is, they are designed to organize information by breaking it into its most basic elements; knowledge and information are gained only by sorting and querying these data elements to support specific decisions. What they cannot do, however, is imbed knowledge in the information itself, or relate it to particular individuals or activities. Furthermore, they are transaction-oriented, and built to reflect the most current state of the data. They are generally not good at reflecting the changing states of information over time. If they are distributed, they require a single-system image so that if a number is debited in one place, it's debited everywhere in a single transaction; in this sense they cannot easily support access by disconnected users.
Traditional electronic mail and messaging systems, on the other hand, are designed for the efficient transmission of messages from one place in an organization to another. They can handle either simple or complex information, and they can deliver it to specfic individuals or applications. However, they generally have no facility for capturing or tracking that information; they simply fulfill their destiny of reliable delivery, much as a telephone system reliably transmits from end-to-end without caring whether there are people or modems communicating with each other.
For most organizations, it is extremely important that robust and scalable strategies for both databases and messaging be developed. In addition, it is important for any organization that values knowledge as a corporate asset to develop a strategy for managing and disseminating that knowledge.
Specifically, an organization's knowledge system should be:
Extremely open, and designed to easily incorporate knowledge-based documents, including those generated by existing information tools within the organization. The documents created in the day-to-day activity of an organization should be managed for the same shared access and security as the transactional data about operations. Spreadsheets, charts, presentations, and word processing documents should be easily stored within the information repository.
Topology-independent, including support for occasionally connected
users. This means that a company 's knowledge system must be able, simply and consistently, to include many geographically-dispersed sites as well as home, laptop, and notebook computers that are increasingly used by mobile professionals.
Designed to support both the sending
models of user collaboration represented by traditional messaging and database systems. This means that for any piece of information in the system, be it a spreadsheet, word processing document, or quick note to someone, the system should support the efficient and reliable transmission of that information to another user, as well as
the storage of the information in a place where it can be organized for efficient and secure access by other interested parties. The information then becomes a knowledge repository.
A corporation's knowledge system should be built upon secure, scalable software that is designed explicitly for that purpose. Lotus Notes is designed according to these "knowledge-based" principles, and is therefore a true knowledge system. A robust system such as that found in Lotus Notes can augment your existing database and messaging strategies. It also has the capability of connecting to both your database and messaging systems, allowing for the smooth integration of three systems that are designed for complementary co-existence.
Information System versus Information-Handling Tools
When evaluating technologies upon which to base a corporate knowledge strategy, you should be careful to understand the difference between the back-end
information storage system and front-end
tools that act upon the information itself.
A back-end information storage system can be thought of as the infrastructure
that stores and disseminates information throughout your organization; from your notebooks to your desktops, from your corporate headquarters to your regional offices. It's the "middleware" that works in conjunction with your operating systems and networking software in order to manage the distribution of knowledge , and also ensure the security of the system.
When developing an information strategy for your company, it is important to choose a robust back-end system that can be deployed throughout your organization, for consistency and ease of management. It is equally important to choose a back-end that has an open architecture, one that is endorsed by a number of providers of third-party front-end tools as well as providers of third-party back-end extensions.
A front-end information handling tool allows the user to enter information into the system, retrieve information, or analyze what's there. Examples of such tools include traditional word processors, spreadsheets, or multimedia tools that handle images, voice and video. Other examples of information handling tools are found in application development systems that enable a designer to create forms
through which users enter and view information, and views
through which the user can generate information summaries.
Other front-end tools are built to emulate work processes, for example routing of forms for approval or corporate procedures to accomplish a specific task. One common work process is scheduling a meeting. Other, more elaborate processes can be built using work flow process design
front-end tools that enable a user to graphically describe a work process while instructing the computer how to emulate it.
Lotus Notes has both a back-end information storage system, called Notes Services, and a set of application tools. A set of Notes APIs connects the two. Since these APIs are published, the Notes Services can be used, not only by the Notes user interface, but by other tools and applications as well.
An open information system, Lotus Notes will enable end-users within your company to choose tools that are most appropriate to the task that they're attempting to solve, while still having the information stored in a manner that it's potentially accessible to others across your organization.
Choosing a Vendor
When considering information handling tools, perhaps the most important issue is that of user choice: if the user isn't satisfied with the choice of a tool, it is unlikely that s/he will use it often or be productive. Front-end tools should be available from a number of vendors in order to promote user choice and choice of the most appropriate tool for the task to be solved.
But what about the back-end? Unlike the front-end, where user interaction is the principal issue, the back-end should be chosen based upon factors such as scalability, security, distributed manageability, and openness. It's highly desirable to standardize on a single back-end information storage repository for your entire company so that all users will have access to the information in a consistent, secure, reliable manner, and so that training and support requirements are minimized for your organization.
If you use multiple types of computers within your organization, this means that the back-end system should support the use of Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, IBM OS/2, or UNIX front-ends (or clients) for individual users. Use of the back-end system should be seamless across these environments, because when collaborating with others, a user should not be troubled with format conversions, naming conventions, or differences in security models.
Some operating system vendors may have robust storage systems that operate well within their particular operating environment, but choosing them will potentially restrict your choice of new hardware, operating environments, or applications as technology changes from one generation to the next. What is needed, ideally, is a back-end system that is not tied to one particular operating environment but instead takes advantage of the network and operating system environment you already have in place.
Operating systems are good and appropriate for controlling hardware such as disk drives and network cards, and are excellent for establishing inter-application graphical user interface standards and services on a given platform, but operating systems cannot excel at cross-vendor support because by their very nature they're proprietary. It is never in an operating system vendor's strategic interests to embrace the use of a competitor's operating system! In order to obtain a truly open, vendor-independent solution, you must rely upon a vendor without an interest in a particular hardware or operating system platform.
Some OS vendors have now begun to bundle
end-user applications, tools, and even network and information system services with the operating system itself. While such moves appear to add value, they actually derail your ability to develop a corporate standard for an open information strategy. When investing in these one-size-fits-all, "integrated" products, remember that you are first and foremost buying an operating system and graphical user environment for your computer. The tools that you employ, on the front-end and back-end, to meet the goals of your information strategy should not be tied to a single operating system. They should be open and flexible, so that they can be used on a wide variety of platforms and operating systems.
Evolutionary Deployment: Think Globally, Act Locally
For all of the reasons mentioned earlier, it's extremely advantageous for an organization to develop a corporate information strategy to protect its knowledge assets and make information accessible to all who need it.
However, users and departments may find it distasteful when a central organizational entity such as an IS group attempts to dictate their hardware, operating environment, or application choices. Furthermore, successful attempts to centrally deploy applications are rare because in order to do so, strong internal support and widespread consensus is required.
A more effective corporate information strategy is based upon the Think Globally, Act Locally
paradigm. In short, centralized corporate IS groups should concentrate on setting strategies that involve back-end infrastructure deployment. This involves standardizing on and deploying such things as network cabling, network file and print servers, routers and bridges, network management services, and the corporate information service backbone.
As much as possible, departments or even individual end-users should be given the choice of applications, operating environment, or even platform . The advantages of local choice
are many, including the fact that, in many cases, it is more appropriate for one department to be running certain applications on a Macintosh and another department to be running other applications on a Sun Workstation.
If a platform-independent, open information system such as Lotus Notes is adopted, users and departments can select from a variety of available tools in the operating environment of their choice.
Lotus Notes: Design Goals
Lotus Notes is an open platform for sharing knowledge and building workgroup applications. The product was first deployed in 1989, notable because age brings with it product maturity and stability, as well as a better understanding of customer requirements.
The design goals for Notes are based on several guiding principles which have driven its development since the product's first release. Since Notes is comprised of both a system services component and an application component, it is necessary to address the two sets of product design goals independently. The product as a whole, however, is a highly integrated combination of services supporting application features and functions.
Addressing Customer Requirements
Lotus Notes was built to address a set of customer requirements that no other product or product category has
been able to address. Several of Notes' core technologies, such as its robust security system, replication, cross-platform architecture, and object store, were designed specifically to support the unique information needs of professionals in today's, and tomorrow's, organizations.
Needed: A Knowledge-based Information Storage System
Information professionals who are responsible for developing and managing an organization's information strategy need the assurance that a knowledge-based system will easily and comfortably co-exist with their existing database and/or messaging systems, networks, and hardware platforms. They require a system designed to support the collaborative processes of knowledge professionals, in a way that databases and messaging systems cannot. The system should offer flexibilty and choice for users, without placing undue management burdens on administrators. And, given the proprietary nature of many knowledge professionals' work, system security must be able to control both the access to and integrity of information. The Lotus Notes Services environment was designed with all of these needs in mind.
Needed: An Open and Accessible Framework for Building Workgroup Applications
Every workgroup is different, and a workgroup product must be flexible enough to accomodate those differences. At the same time, however, people who are members of several workgroups need some consistency of approach in organizing their work. A workgroup application development environment must therefore provide a practical framework for organizing shared information. And, since much of the information that professionals use is stored in various desktop applications such as spreadsheets, word processors or databases, workgroup applications must be able to accomodate this full range of tools. Whether group members prefer Macintosh, Windows, OS/2 or UNIX on their desktop, they should still be able to gain access to the shared knowledge base. And the applications themselves should be easy to use, easy to create and customize, and easy to deploy. The Lotus Notes front-end was designed with all of these needs in mind.
Lotus Notes: A Knowledge-based Information Storage System
Network operating systems (such as Novell's NetWare, Banyan Vines, IBM LAN Server, and Microsoft LAN Manager), running on network file servers, have existed for ten years, providing shared file services, shared print services, and shared application program files to users of local area networks. At the same time, database servers have provided shared access to structured data through front-end query tools. Lotus Notes goes beyond traditional network operating systems and database servers, and provides an Information Server for shared access to corporate knowledge. Notes Services works in conjunction with traditional network operating systems, supporting their transport protocols for access to shared files and printers. But the Notes server is a parallel set of services, designed for the purpose of collecting, storing, organizing, retrieving, sending, and sharing "knowledge" in the form of documents and application Objects.
1. Lotus Notes Fits Your Existing Technology Infrastructure
Heterogeneous Client/Server Architecture
The Notes back-end is implemented as a modular, client/server system with support for many operating environments, giving you the freedom to choose your vendors based upon factors such as hardware scalability, price, and support. There are four principal components that make up Notes Services:
The Notes Object Store, where information is stored for shared access among multiple users and where the security of that information is controlled.
Notes Messaging and Directory Services, which enable it to route information between users and/or databases, as well as connecting to a range of gateways to other mail systems.
Notes Network Drivers, which enable Notes Services to use industry-standard network and transport-layer protocols developed and provided by the major network operating system vendors, including Novell, Banyan, IBM, Microsoft and Apple. Network drivers are available for a wide variety of network transports, such as NETBIOS, Novell IPX/SPX, Banyan Vines, TCP/IP, IBM APPC, X.25, AppleTalk, and X.PC for remote dial-in support.
Application Program Interfaces that developers use to access the information storage and retrieval services. The same APIs are used to access information both on the local workstation and on remote servers. Also, the same APIs will be available on many computing platforms such as OS/2, Windows, and UNIX. Using these APIs, both Lotus and third-party developers have been able to create a series of Companion Products and Notes Add-on products that leverage Notes Services while also providing additional application capabilities.
Embracing Open Standards
Lotus defines openness to mean the ease with which customers can connect Notes to their existing infrastructure. Support for established standards offers the ability to move data and information into and out of Notes using standard formats and protocols instead of using the Notes API. Notes supports a range of industry standards
X.400 As an optional component, Notes supports an X.400 message router, which is implemented at a peer level to the native Notes message router.
VIM Lotus was a founding member of the Vendor Independent Messaging group, and Notes provides a set of VIM-compliant messaging APIs. In addition, Lotus continues to work with the VIM group and the XAPIA (API committee of the X.400 standards organization) toward agreement on common messaging APIs across a heterogeneous suite of platforms.
X.500 Notes supports full X.500-compliant hierarchical naming as its native means of identifying users within the system. This makes it very straightforward to directly interconnect with other corporations, and avoids name conflict headaches as your company grows. In addition, Lotus is working with several vendors of X.500-compliant directory services to ensure Notes interoperability with customers' X.500 directory systems.
Security Standards: Authentication
X.509 Notes is an industry leader in the usage of public key/private key cryptography in the areas of authentication and messaging and is working with other vendors to provide interoperable X.509-compliant certificates, thus making it easier to securely manage large user communities.
Security Standards: Encryption
RSA Lotus was one of the earliest licensees of the RSA Public Key Cryptosystem, developed at MIT and licensed by Public Key Partners/RSA, Inc., and continues to utilize this powerful, open set of services in all aspects of Notes security.
Compound Document Standards
Currently in the PC world each application manages its own document structure and accessing it requires understanding proprietary file formats. Lotus is collaborating with many leading developers in the PC industry to define a robust, cross-platform compound document architecture. This format will expose a document's structure separately from its content, giving developers a "schema" to the contents of a document for easier programmatic access. Notes will embrace this standard as soon as its release schedule allows.
Database Connectivity Standards
Notes will support connectivity to relational databases by enabling SQL calls through Datalens or ODBC (the Windows Open Database Connectivity interface) drivers when using field-level lookups to external databases. Notes will also support ODBC as a data source provider, enabling developers to use SQL for simple operations for batch migration of data into and out of Notes databases. ODBC-compliant Windows database tools and utilities will also work with the Notes server. Lotus will also supply DataLens drivers to selected non-SQL databases.
OSF, OMG Lotus is a member of both the Open Software Foundation and the Object Management Group, and is pursuing aspects of integration between these systems and Notes base technologies.
Openness at all Levels
Notes is designed in such a manner that for each of its base services, an interface is provided to enable a third-party vendor (or customer) to augment or replace components on an as-needed basis. This openness extends through every layer of Notes, on both the front-end and the back-end, providing a broad range of options for connecting Notes into other existing systems. Notes Services include:.
Network Transport Drivers
. Notes can be configured to use a variety of different drivers, including TymNet's X.PC, Banyan's Vines, Apple's AppleTalk, IBM/Microsoft NETBIOS, Novell's IPX/SPX, TCP/IP, X.25, and IBM's APPC.
Directory Service Gateways
, currently available for cc:Mail, VinesMail, and SoftSwitch, which allow the bi-directional synchronization of user directories between Notes and other systems.
, currently available for cc:Mail, VAXmail, VinesMail, MHS, FAX, SMTP, PROFS and many others via SoftSwitch.
Installable Information Gateways
, currently available for all major public News Wires and Information Services, which permit the bi-directional transfer of information between Notes and other external data feeds or information systems.
Installable Full Text Drivers
, currently available for Verity's Topic, enables Notes content indexing to be performed using a variety of indexing technologies.
It is in the best interests of Lotus and its customers to remain platform-neutral and offer Notes as a platform-independent knowledge system. However, Notes also makes good and appropriate use of any given operating system's infrastructure. As various operating system and network vendors build messaging or directory capabilities into their offerings, as Apple has done with OCE and Microsoft has done with MAPI, Notes will directly interface with those services on a given platform.
Similarly, if the OS or NOS vendor provides standard network transport services such as IPX/SPX, NetBIOS, NetBEUI, AppleTalk, or TCP/IP, Notes is designed to utilize these native services as well. By utilizing vendors' open interfaces, Notes becomes an integral part of the whole system rather than an island unto itself.
2. Lotus Notes Supports Knowledge-based Work
Rich Storage and Retrieval Capabilities
The basic unit of storage in Notes is the Document
. Documents have extremely flexible structure, and can be tagged with Properties
such as Client, Region, Subject, and so on. Documents can also have any number of Attachments
or Embedded Objects
, which are associated files belonging to other applications. Notes has a compound document architecture, which means that it can handle multiple data types, including text, images, graphics, voice and video.
Related collections of documents are stored in Databases
, where they can be indexed and retrieved by any of the documents' properties, or by the actual contents
of the document due to the fact that Notes includes full-text indexing.
Hierarchical Object Store
The Object Store is the core of the Notes Services component. Object containment in Notes is strictly hierarchical. The Notes universe consists of arbitrary networks of Servers
. Within a server, there is a set of individual Databases
. Within a given database, there is a set of Documents
. Within a document, there is a set of Fields (otherwise known as Properties)
, each of which is represented as a Name, Type, and Value
A Notes database can be designed to have a wide variety of Views. A View is defined as a set of selection and sorting rules that are, in effect, a stored query
of the database with associated indexes to provide for quick access. This index is quite sophisticated, being hierarchical and supporting the Expand and Collapse user-interface techniques for easy browsing in a graphical environment
Another important aspect of the object storage system is the ability to content-index the documents within a database. Either on demand or in the background, a process incrementally indexes the words found in a database's objects. At some later point, a query can be issued to one or more databases, resulting in a relevance-ranked list of matches that satisfy the query.
The Notes object storage system has a small, concise Application Programming Interface with which the application developer (using Notes application tools or C-code) can not only store and retrieve objects, but can also cause the system to send
an object to designated recipients or to share
an object with others.
Sending and Sharing Models of Object Transport
Notes services support two independent mechanisms that are used to transport objects from place-to-place in a network of workstations and servers: messages are routed and Notes databases are replicated between two Notes servers.
Routing is the process of taking an object given by a Sender and moving it to a Recipient's database. While principally used by electronic mail applications, it is also frequently used between communicating programs.
The routing process is optimized for end-to-end efficiency of transfer, utilizing techniques such as outbound message prioritization, dynamic adaptive route selection based upon link cost, and multiple concurrent transfers to different routes.
Associated with routing is the notion of delivery failure
, which means that any given sender can be notified if the delivery was not possible due to one of a number of reasons.
Replication is the process of keeping multiple copies
of a database in synchronization with each other. There is no necessary "master" or "slave" in replication, but rather changes are made to any copy of a database and the replicator
is responsible for bidirectionally adding, deleting, or updating documents amongst all replicas
of the database, constrained by the access rights assigned to each database.
The replication process is optimized for broad dissemination of information shared among many individuals (as opposed to Routing, which is optimized for the Originator/Recipient model). Replication supports virtually any topology and is the centerpiece of the occasionally-connected usage model.
The Notes replicator supports both full and partial replication, has a tunable level of consistency based upon frequency of replications, and enables a user or program to detect and resolve the conflict caused by multiple concurrent updates that occur on different servers.
Notes basic architecture is designed to smoothly handle the occasionally-connected
usage model, which means that you can construct an information system that simply, consistently supports a topology consisting of many geographically-dispersed sites as well as home, laptop, and notebook computers that are increasingly used by mobile professionals.
Notes servers may be connected to each other in a variety of ways, both because of the flexibility in choice of communication transports (e.g., over LAN, dial-up lines, or bridged/routed WANs) and because of the basic replicated
nature of the object storage system. Each organization may choose to interconnect in the way that makes most sense to match its information strategy.
A company that already has a huge investment in a corporate WAN with many bridges and routers will choose to have servers connect with each other directly over the existing WAN. Another, with a huge investment in an SNA backbone might choose a more hierarchical server topology utilizing APPC interconnections. Still another might choose to interconnect servers with modems, or another might choose to install dedicated 56KB or T1 lines between critical servers.
Notes servers can be configured to communicate with one another in a peer-to-peer, hub-and-spoke,
or even purely ad hoc
topology. Due to the flexible nature of Notes, topology planning can be independent of application or information strategy planning, thus simplifying deployment within a large organization.
Also, because of the peer
nature of the Notes architecture, interconnection of servers to other servers or users to servers is treated identically, which is why it's so easy and natural for mobile users to use a modem to connect their computers "into the system". Notes is designed from the ground-up for occasionally-connected communications, whether the entity communicating is a user or another server.
3. Lotus Notes Offers User Choice
In order to ensure freedom of choice for the customer, Lotus Notes is implemented on a wide variety of base Operating Systems such as DOS/Windows, OS/2, Macintosh, and UNIX. Object services offered to applications are implemented in such a manner that applications need not be aware of which operating system services are being used. The issue of vendor interoperability is dealt with by Notes, not the application.
Notes is implemented as a modular, client/server system with support for many operating environments both on the client and server sides., In addition to giving you choice, client/server architecture is inherently more secure and efficient than are file-sharing
architectures. Access to the data is controlled by the server at a very fine level of granularity, which then requires smaller amounts of data to be passed between the user's workstation and the remote server.
Customers will be able to mix and match clients and servers, with any client able to operate with any server. Clients are or will soon be available on Windows, IBM OS/2 Version 1.x and 2.x, Macintosh System 6 and 7, and various UNIX implementations of both Open Look and Motif such as those provided by Sun (Solaris 1 and 2), IBM (AIX), SCO (Open Desktop), and HP-UX. Servers will be available on all of the above with the exception of the Macintosh, and also will be available as a Netware Loadable Module (NLM) for Novell's NetWare network operating system.
4. Lotus Notes Provides Ease of Management
The Notes server was designed with scalability in mind. As many customers have learned the hard way, scalability is something that cannot simply be stated
by a vendor, but rather it must be demonstrated
to a prospective customer by example. While many systems appear to scale well in a vendors' own laboratories, they cannot be practically managed as they grow in real-life usage scenarios. Due to the fact that it has been deployed in large Fortune 500 organizations since 1989, Lotus Notes can clearly demonstrate its real-life scalability.
In the next year, Notes will further improve its scalability by supporting a range of servers, targetting as few as 10 users at the low-end as well as hundreds of users when running on powerful multiprocessor systems at the high-end.
In a system consisting of potentially hundreds of Notes servers scattered amongst dozens of geographic sites, it would be impossible to have a network administrator
assigned to every server. For this reason, Notes was designed to be manageable in a distributed fashion, that is, allowing any server to be managed and configured remotely.
Notes servers actively generate alerts
that can be fed to network administrators through electronic mail, alerts indicating such things as low disk space, failed network connections, or communication bottlenecks. Lotus and other third parties are working to connect Notes alerts to other network monitoring and management systems such as NetWare Management System and Simple Network Management Protocal (SNMP).
Available on every Notes server is a set of tools that enables the server to exchange messages with cc:Mail Post Offices, thus retaining cc:Mail customers' investments in messaging infrastructure. Because both cc:Mail and Notes are Lotus products, you can expect that integration between them is and will continue to be as smooth as possible. (see white paper entitiled Lotus Communications Products: Complementary Architectures for Workgroup Computing,
for more detail).
5. Lotus Notes Provides a Secure Infrastructure
Lotus Notes was developed from the outset as a secure system. Done in a manner that works across vendors' operating environments
, Notes utilizes technology licensed from RSA, Data Security, Inc., the industry leader in cryptographic algorithms and services. Notes provides four classes of security:
Authentication, which securely identifies users using the industry-standard X.500 hierarchical naming syntax. Authentication in Notes is bi-directional, that is, servers authenticate the identity of users and users authenticate the identity of servers. Authentication is used whenever a user and a server, or two servers, are communicating with each other .
Digital Signatures, which provide users the absolute guarantee that a given message is from who it says it's from, essentially a user-to-user form of authentication. In addition, this technology enables the computer to notarize all or a portion of a message, thus making the guarantee to its recipient that the message has neither been forged nor altered in transit.
Access Control, which provides the ability to grant or deny access to shared databases, documents, views, forms, and fields. Server access can also be controlled for individual users by either allowing or denying access to specific Notes servers within the organization. For example, organizational blacklists could be set up for all servers containing a list of terminated employees or contractors, or specific access lists could be set up for high-security servers such as a legal department.
Encryption, which involves ciphering or scrambling information so that even if it were accessed by the wrong individuals, it couldn't be understood. Encryption is available at three levels in the system., At the message level, individual messages can be encrypted for one or more intended recipients; At the network level, encryption prevents someone from promiscuously "sniffing" (tapping into) traffic on a LAN or dial-in line, because they won't see anything intelligible; at the field level, databases can be designed to encrypt document fields so that only specified users can read them.
The security in Notes works across vendor platforms, so it is managed and dealt with in the same way regardless of which operating system you choose to use. It works with any topology that you choose, so that occasionally-connected users or LANs are managed the same way as a single server or LAN.
Lastly, there are no back-doors into the system
. Because of its fundamental design, neither Lotus nor any hacker, foreign or domestic government agency, or competitor has or will have a "super user" capability in your information system.
Lotus Notes: Application Architecture
The Lotus Notes front-end provides both an end-user application development platform, as well as a deployment vehicle for those applications. It is implemented as a set of tools on top of the Notes Services APIs. These tools can be used to develop knowledge-based applications that are automatically enabled for creating, sharing, organizing, and managing the flow of information in an organization.
1. Lotus Notes Provides a Framework for Knowledge-based Workgroup Applications
In the Workspace
, the user places icons, each of which represents a single Notes application or database. The user can arrange the databases onto iconic
folders, in a way that suits her/his style of working or that best reflects her/his role. Users may add database icons to their workspace in a number of ways, most typically either by browsing in an organizational published database catalog
or by finding out about an interesting database from a fellow workgroup member. Once a Notes database application is placed on the workspace, a user can open
it by pointing at it with the mouse and then double-clicking. When the database is opened, a View
will be displayed.
is a listing of all or a subset of documents that reside within a given Notes database application, arranged in a tabular or outline fashion. Any given database in Notes has one or more Views that the database's designer
created for easy access to the information. For example, in a client tracking database there might be Views, "By Client", "By Region", "By Sales Person", or "By Industry Classification", each view potentially listing the same information with different sorting or selection criteria. In addition, users can create Private Views to provide a listing, with a sorting or selection criteria that was not provided by the database's designer in one of the publicly available views.
By supporting the outline
metaphor and the expand
operations, Notes Views make it extremely easy to locate a document, even in a large database. Occasionally, however, a user needs to locate one or more documents using criteria that the View designer didn't anticipate. In this case, the user would enable the Notes Search Bar
, which enables him to formulate an arbitrary database query either by using a query language or by using a query by form
capability. The View would then display the matching documents in order of relevance to the query, from which further refinement is possible.
Once the user has located a document that he wishes to view, he points at it with the mouse and double-clicks to open it. At this point, one of two things happens: If the document was created by an external application, (in Windows it could be created by an OLE Server)
, the application is launched and the document is displayed. If, however, the document was created using the built-in Notes Editor
, the Editor will be launched to display the document.
Notes contains an interface, known as the Editor,
through which a wide variety of textual and graphical information can be displayed. The Editor uses the Form
as its metaphor; a database's designer prepares one or more Forms that are useful in the context of the database that's being designed. For example, in a Sales Prospect Tracking database there might be a "Prospect Information" form and a "Meeting Report" form, each designed for a specific purpose but sharing common fields such as the name of the prospective client. Forms are used to enter information into the database and are also used to view the information already entered.
The fields within Notes forms can represent the more traditional types of data, such as numbers, dates, and text, or alternatively they can contain Rich Text
, within which a user can place text with various typefaces and colors as well as charts and graphs, imagesvoice annotations, video clips, and active push-buttons
containing procedural scripts. By using these active form
capabilities in conjunction with the digital signature
security capabilities offered by Notes, sophisticated serial and parallel forms routing applications can be constructed.
Platform for Application Development
Notes is the ideal platform for the development of customized, communication-based or information-based applications. . Besides Forms and Views, the basic building blocks of a Notes application, Notes also provides more advanced tools such as a macro language, a published API, a relational lookup capability, and sophisticated routing formulas. Both Lotus and third-party companies provide a set of pre-packaged production-quality Notes applications, which can be used as is or as the basis from which you build your own customized solutions. In addition, you'll find lots of third-party Notes companion applications to choose from, from simple mail gateways to very robust SQL database integration tools. Lotus also sells a set of Notes Companion Products, including the image-capable Lotus Notes:Document
Imaging product, incoming and outgoing FAX gateways, a CD version of Notes, and an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) server for scanning FAX's or images into Notes documents..
2. Lotus Notes Provides Open Access to Existing Data and Applications
A knowledge sharing system such as Notes is of much greater value if it can handle information generated by other programs, especially programs typically used to create and analyze information. Notes was therefore designed to make it easy to move information back and forth between your existing applications and the Notes Object Store, thus enabling you to share your work with other users. Notes has extensive services that tie it tightly together with the applications that you are likely to be already using.
The richest level of integration is found at the platform-specific compound document format: on Windows and OS/2 this interface is known as OLE,
or Object Linking and Embedding
. The industry-standard OLE interface, pioneered by Microsoft and Lotus, is supported by hundreds of commercial PC applications. By using Notes in conjunction with applications supporting OLE, live
application objects can be embedded seamlessly in documents for sharing with other users.
Open Data Integration
In addition to its inter-application data exchange facilities, a second level of data integration is achieved through use of Notes' rich set of import/export
filters. By using these filters, users can copy information from application files directly into Notes databases or documents, retaining much of the original application's formatting information, or from Notes documents to application formats, again retaining the original look.
Another level of integration is achieved through the ability of Notes to attach
any number of application files to any Notes document in any Notes database. When so attached, the application files are securely managed and organized just as any other Notes document.
Finally, if you as an application designer would like to tie a Notes application to an external database application, Notes will support a wide selection of external database systems through its DataLens
database driver interface. In the Windows environment, the Microsoft/Oracle ODBC
drivers will also be supported.
Open Mail Interfaces
Lotus Notes contains a world-class mail and messaging system whose user interface is designed to be easy to use and consistent with that of the rest of the Notes product. If, however, you have already made an investment in another electronic mail program, Notes does not require you to use the Notes built-in mail functions.
If you are currently a Lotus cc:Mail user, you should be aware that Lotus Notes fully embraces your use of cc:Mail as your electronic mail program. Notes' own built-in mail interface may be replaced by functions that deliver Notes messages directly into your cc:Mail mailbox. In this case, the Notes Mail
menu options interact directly with cc:Mail.
In the future, Lotus intends to deliver support for other "alternate mail" options within Notes.
3. Lotus Notes Offers User Choice
In order to ensure freedom of choice for the customer, Lotus Notes is or will be implemented on a wide variety of Graphical User Environments such as Windows, OS/2 Presentation Manager, Macintosh, and both UNIX Open Look and Motif. Advanced technology within Notes ensures that rich data objects such as character sets, charts, and images are rendered on all platforms as the user had intended, thus eliminating the need for users to have to be aware of other users' choices of platform.
While being cross-platform in nature, Notes also makes significant and appropriate use of the services infrastructure offered by any given operating environment. Users will be very pleased with the level to which Notes embraces DDE and OLE on Windows, Apple Events and Publish/Subscribe on the Macintosh, and ToolTalk on the Sun.
4. Notes Applications are Easy to Use, Easy to Develop, Consistent with Corporate Data Architecture Standards, and Easy to Deploy
Ease of Use
The Notes user interface has been designed to be extremely easy to use, having very few basic concepts that need to be learned: The Document
, which the user composes and reads through a Form;
, which is a tabular summary of a collection of related Documents; and the Database
, which contains the related set of Documents, Views, and Forms. The user interface has proven to be effective at all levels within an organization, from clerical to executive.
Ease of Development
Notes applications are developed visually by designing Forms and Views, with no programming beyond a simple @Function language that any Lotus 1-2-3 user would be familiar with. All Notes design functions are accessed through a single Design
menu option . If a user is interested in how an application works, it can be readily inspected through use of the Design menu. If s/he would like to begin creating a new application, s/he can thus learn by example.
The fact that Notes development capabilities are embraced by end-users means that new, useful applications can literally appear overnight, frequently eliminating the need to wait for a centralized IS group to develop a needed local application.
Ease of Application Deployment
Companies using Notes have deployed applications into huge user communities;, in one case an application was used by more than 12,000 users across dozens of sites worldwide. Deployment of such an application would not have been possible had it not been for Notes' inherent ability to disseminate applications in an automatic, distributed manner. Notes does this by storing its Forms, Views, and other database design elements as objects within the databases themselves, thus taking advantage of the Notes replication
facilities to disseminate application designs. Also, the Live Design
capabilities of the product make it possible to incrementally change an application, while it's being used across an organization, without negatively impacting active users of that application.
Consistent with Corporate Data Standards
Perhaps most importantly for IS groups, Notes offers a powerful opportunity to distribute application development without fragmenting the carefully nurtured corporate data architecture. While central IS groups recognize and try to manage their data resources as a coherent whole, much of development undertaken with PC tools and client/server systems is tactically implemented. The primary objective for these tactical systems is usually speed of implementation, not adherence to a central architecture. Lotus Notes is the only product that can encompass the needs of both groups.
Notes supports the notion of a single corporate or multiple departmental data dictionaries, which can be used to promote the company-wide use of centrally managed lists of regional offices, clients, standard form or field definitions, or even entire application designs. By consistent use of standard design elements, it's easier for users to do cross-database queries and data exchange. It also guarantees that company-wide rollups will present data consistent with the centrally managed standards and architecture. And when these standards change, all subscribing applications will also change.
Lotus has worked with customers to select a number of pre-designed applications that are available to all Notes customers, each with sample data, usage instructions, designer hints, and access control suggestions. Examples include:
Sales and Marketing:
Account Management, Customer Service Tracking, Sales Management, Activity Reporting, Sell-Through Reports, Telemarketing, Competitive Intelligence, Sales & Marketing Handbook, Executive Briefings, Alliance Tracking
Development, Manufacturing, Quality Assurance:
Project Tracking, Change Order Tracking, Distributed Development Project Coordination, Development/Manufacturing/QA Coordination
Support and MIS:
Technical Notes and Tips, Technical Services Tracking, Product Support, Problem Tracking, Support Call Tracking, Software Distribution and Tracking
Job Postings, Job Candidates, Performance Appraisals
Management, Finance, and Administration:
Industry-Specific News Feeds, Competition Tracking, Forms Routing, Correspondence, Budget Planning, Expense Reports, Corporate Policies and Procedures
Lotus Notes : Platform for Strategic Knowledge Management
In developing an information strategy for your company, it's important to select the right tools upon which to implement. Lotus Notes has demonstrated its ability to host very large scale PC-based information systems since 1989, and has set the standards for workgroup products industry-wide.
Lotus, the industry leader in workgroup and communication products with Notes and cc:Mail, continues to invest in its Working Together
strategy by reshaping its core line of business applications, 1-2-3, Freelance, and Ami Pro to be group-enabled through their direct use of the Notes services and infrastructure.
Lotus is currently working with over 150 third-party vendors who are developing Notes applications or Companion Products. . These products, along with the many Value-Added Resellers who are selling and supporting Lotus Notes, comprise a very powerful support system that will enable you to quickly implement your corporation's information strategy.
After 8 years of continuing investment in Notes technology, Lotus has demonstrated its commitment and ability to provide customers with solutions that fulfill their knowledge management needs and make their organizations more effective and efficient in realizing an information strategy based on an open architecture with heterogeneous client support.
Part No. 13169