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Desperately need objective comparisons between Notes and Access/SQL as DB servers for web

Posted on 2001-06-04
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Hi,

this is a similar, but significantly different, question to one I asked before.

Our customer uses Lotus Notes internally (5.04 I think) and we've got a system (Notrix & Openlink ODBC drivers) that export this information overnight to an Access Database (this will be upgraded to SQL server in 6 months or so).  This works fine.  However, the American arm of the company is kicking up a fuss and saying that the whole project should stay in Notes & Domino environment, rather than kicking the data out to Microsoft standard stuff.

What I need is an objective comparison (white paper, hard experience, html link, pdf, whatever) that compares Lotus Notes & Domino as a platform for a dynamic web site and IIS/Access/SQL using asp pages.

All I can find is comparisons between Lotus Notes and Exchange, which is not what I'm interested in.  We can get the data from the notes files, I just need to know if it's more efficient to be using the SQL/Access/IIS route or whether Lotus Notes is a reliable and fast technology to be using for what will be a speed-critical website.

Should they even be considering using Lotus Notes to serve the site from a Domino server? I have no experience of using the Lotus technology so I am unable to be objective about this.

Comments/pointers gratefully accepted!
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Question by:carled
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by:ASPGuru
ID: 6151970
haven't found whitepapers on this...

i would run my own tests....

i would guess that Lotus is better than access but not as good as SQL Server...

anyway it really depends on what you want to do with the data and how many users you expect, so try to have some realistic tests and then you know....
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by:weesiong
ID: 6151989
carled,

I no so like Lotus, actually i think maybe this is better then SQL Server, but it no so friendly when you want running in Microsoft OS :p

So what your problem now is want input the data to Notus, right, you need write a script to LOOP the Data to Post and submit to your lotus.

Regards,
Wee Siong
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by:carled
ID: 6151999
Fair point.  Difficult to do test though due to development overhead and geographical location.

Users will be doing searches (lots of them) based on products, so lots of filtering going on.  User registrations, requests for literature... the works really.
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by:TimCottee
ID: 6152008
carled, I have some experience in a similar situation. We are developing an intranet on a domino platform serving manufacturing information directly from a SQL server. This works perfectly well and in many ways is as good as an IIS/ASP route. You can use Javascript as well as notesscript in the domino pages and can easily generate dynamic content from the sql server. My feel on using Notes as the data repository is that it will be slightly slower than the SQL server however we also in the intranet are using Notes databases as part of the content but as we are not fully operational yet I cannot give you any valid comparisons between the two.
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by:Deathwish
ID: 6153442
We had something similar at a place worked before. Some people said we should use notes for web development. However, we knew better. In the end we won out due to several reasons. First for dynamic aspects Notes uses Java very heavily. Second, SQL server was much faster than the notes database. Third, we found development and how the web pages were stored (ie the notes document based database) was not as efficient and non-standard. Fourth, there was only 2 people out of 20 who knew how to use domino and develop in it. There are quite a bit more MS developers out there than there are Notes developers.

I don't think you will find any papers that show Notes and IIS in comparison. Most say its a personal ecperience thing. Notes people really remind me of the way Macintosh diehards are. Nothing can be better or used if its not part of the Notes system. You will can show some evidence that I think discredits the use of Notes as being better than the MS solutions. First you can go to netcraft and show how many servers run domino and how many run IIS:

http://www.netcraft.com/survey/Reports/0105/

To me it says something when there are only like 50000 servers out of millions running domino as opposed to over 5 million running IIS.
Second, you see now in R5 where they allow for people it use other programs instead of the notes client. Also you can use additional web services outside domino. It makes you wonder why. Perhaps its because most people use something other than domino. This brings up the issue of portability. However, if domino is a set thing, then perhaps instead of having to choose between one you use both. We setup at my old job a server where domino ran with IIS on the same server. Now the key thing is that the IIS is the primary web server. You can then in your ASP pages use Domino specific items and so on. Here is an article on it:

http://www.iisadministrator.com/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=7175&Key=Lotus

Perhaps this would be the best way to handle it. You can then keep your data in Domino, but have your web stuff in IIS. Kind of a compromise.

Another issue to consider or whether this web server is going to be viewed outside the network. The question is do you really want your domino data server to be available to the outside. Using a different server can provide a buffer.
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Deathwish earned 300 total points
ID: 6153448
We had something similar at a place worked before. Some people said we should use notes for web development. However, we knew better. In the end we won out due to several reasons. First for dynamic aspects Notes uses Java very heavily. Second, SQL server was much faster than the notes database. Third, we found development and how the web pages were stored (ie the notes document based database) was not as efficient and non-standard. Fourth, there was only 2 people out of 20 who knew how to use domino and develop in it. There are quite a bit more MS developers out there than there are Notes developers.

I don't think you will find any papers that show Notes and IIS in comparison. Most say its a personal ecperience thing. Notes people really remind me of the way Macintosh diehards are. Nothing can be better or used if its not part of the Notes system. You will can show some evidence that I think discredits the use of Notes as being better than the MS solutions. First you can go to netcraft and show how many servers run domino and how many run IIS:

http://www.netcraft.com/survey/Reports/0105/

To me it says something when there are only like 50000 servers out of millions running domino as opposed to over 5 million running IIS.
Second, you see now in R5 where they allow for people it use other programs instead of the notes client. Also you can use additional web services outside domino. It makes you wonder why. Perhaps its because most people use something other than domino. This brings up the issue of portability. However, if domino is a set thing, then perhaps instead of having to choose between one you use both. We setup at my old job a server where domino ran with IIS on the same server. Now the key thing is that the IIS is the primary web server. You can then in your ASP pages use Domino specific items and so on. Here is an article on it:

http://www.iisadministrator.com/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=7175&Key=Lotus

Perhaps this would be the best way to handle it. You can then keep your data in Domino, but have your web stuff in IIS. Kind of a compromise.

Another issue to consider or whether this web server is going to be viewed outside the network. The question is do you really want your domino data server to be available to the outside. Using a different server can provide a buffer.
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by:carled
ID: 6155352
Thanks Deathwish - that's a great help (both times <g>!)

I'll check out the links you've sent - points could be on their way to you shortly!
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by:oavidov
ID: 6185961
carled,
Site below is a Sponsored Link so look at this and be careful cause i am not sure how much it can help
[link removed by PandoraMod - Moderator @ Experts Exchange]
oavidov

<user advertising is not allowed at this site - refer to the guidelines you signed, PandoraMod>
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by:TimCottee
ID: 6186029
oavidov, you are not a new member at EE and are therefore certainly well aware of the guidelines on comments vs answers. The link you have posted has absolutely nothing to do with the question and is IMHO merely an advertising link which is contrary to the site rules. I am referring this thread and your account to customer services.
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by:ASPGuru
ID: 6186038
> cause i am not sure how much it can help

so why do you post it as an answer then????????
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by:TimCottee
ID: 6186040
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by:carled
ID: 6186173
do I even have to say why I'm rejecting this as an answer?
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by:PandoraMod
ID: 6187761
carled, sorry about the interruption. Please carry on :-)

PandoraMod
Moderator @ Experts Exchange
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by:Fenman
ID: 6200330
Some things to remember when trying to decide between Notes/Domino and any SQL RDBMS.

If the data is mainly document based and will be used in a document fashion (searched input etc) then Notes and Domino will generally do a better job, If on the other hand the data is largely relational in organisation and use (as it sounds) then SQL will be a far better solution.

The issues are more than just preferential.

a) The ability of a system to be efficient is governed overall by the suitability of the system to its intended use. A relational system will always be better for relational data, an object system for object data and a document system for document data.

b) The ability of a given solution to be supported and enhanced. A solution is only effective as a solution if it can be supported into the future. Availability of needed skills (as pointed out above) is a critical factor and we sometimes need to compromise our personal preferences in favour of something that is more practical in the long run.

c) Performance is critically affected by the compatibility of the solution to the problem. In my experience with all the platforms discussed and your description of the scenario I have no hesitation in recommending a SQL based solution.

Cheers
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by:carled
ID: 6201360
Hmmm... I like the way you argue your point Fenman....  however, I don't actually know how to discern exactly what the data type is based on the criteria you have specified.  Is there a simple comparison around (or can you offer one!) that defines what 'document' type data is compared to relational or object data?
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by:Fenman
ID: 6201424
OK!

Most relational data can be represented as object data and so can most document data. OO design in general is a good way to go straight to 3NF in relational design.  OO databases on the other hand do not deal well with large transaction type (as in accounting, banking etc) volumes and as yet have tricky interfaces to non-oo tools.

To decide between document data and relational data consider the following:

* does it have clearly defined fields or items of information that cover all the data of interest. If so relational

* does it have a document type interface (such as a letter or memo) where some items of data are of interest and the balance are free format of semi structured text. If so document data.

As a general rule of thumb, accounting, inventory, sales, purchasing, financial are relationally suited while editorial, news etc are document suited and some like medical history are both and suit a hybrid solution.

Hope this helps

Cheers

PS Using Notes/Domino as a data entry tool for a relational database is a bad idea because you have to encapsulate too much business logic in the front end rather than in the database itself which is where it belongs. This makes future maintenance more difficult.
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by:carled
ID: 6201523
OK, the data is actually going to be hybrid then.  The database required by the site contains product, supplier & customer databases (amongst others) as well as articles, faq's and technical references. We've designed the (currently) Access database to contain a table with (for example):

Article Table
ArticleID, Autonumber
ArticleType, Text(1 character) ie 'N' for News, 'F' for FAQ
ArticleHeader, Text(255)
ArticleTeaser, Memo (teaser line to appear in news column on front page)
ArticleBody, Memo (contains main article body)

that allows us to store and access document-type data in a relational manner and also allows us to cater for multi-language translations of the same data

We intend to let the customer stick to their familiar environment for data entry (ie notes) and we're using a third-party datapump (called notrix I believe) that extracts the notes data overnight and feeds it into the relational table structure.

We believe that this gives the customer the best of both worlds - ie a familiar interface for them and a relational structure that can be easily expanded into SQL as demand increases.

Does this make sense?
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by:Fenman
ID: 6201601
Yes. I would recommend migrating from MS Access to MS SQL Server asap to prevent critical performance issues. Try to plan future modifications to incorporate business logic into the database and gradually thin-out the logic held in the client application / user interface. This will then make it easier to migrate the user interface to anything else should you require it.

Cheers
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by:carled
ID: 6201630
Hah! get them to leave Lotus Notes... maybe next century... (strong American arm to the company!)

As the site will not have many simultaneous users (they're more B2B than B2C we're not expecting too many perfomance issues with Access to start with. The accepted industry norm seems to be that Access can handle up to a thousand or so simultaneous users and we're halving that amount for good measure and I still don't see us getting anywhere near 500 simultaneous database users for quite a while yet.  I intend using that as the 'switchover to SQL' point as and when it happens.  Are you now going to tell me that I can only support 50 concurrent users in Access, just to wee on my bonfire?!

We're fighting a bit of a battle against the American side of the company that want to do all this complex stuff using Notes & Domino... I don't think that the system is up to it but they're convinced!
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by:Asta Cu
ID: 6907075
Please update the expert here who have so willingly stepped in to help you, since much time has passed since your last comments, and Email notifications may not have been generated to the participating experts here due to some problems at that time.  If you've been helped, accept the respective question by that expert to grade and close it.

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