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Compare Lotus MailIn features to MS Exchange

Posted on 2011-02-23
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Hello Experts!

My company is in the process of migrating over to MS Exchange from Lotus Notes and they have tasked me in coming up with a features checklist of Mail-In databases and its MS Exchange counterpart. Being more of a MS guy, I know that you can set up a generic email account for users to share and just add the users to access that box. What I'm having trouble with is finding out what some of the more advanced features of Lotus Mail-In databases are. If someone could provide some insight or reference material, that'd be most appreciated.

Cheers
Josh
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Question by:Big Monty
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mbonaci earned 250 total points
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by:wsewasim
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by:Big Monty
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@mbonaci:

thanks for those links, its a good start. It seems the basic functionality of a Mail-In database is pretty much what I outlined above, a shared email box that many users can access. What I'm looking for here is more along the lines of its advanced features. I know it can copy files to different folders (that was the one example I was given here), and I know Exchange can mimic that, but what other advanced features can it do? Are there templates for Mail-In databases? If so, what are they?

@wsewasim:

thanks for these references, it seems the first one is more of a sales pitch, but its still informative. I'm still going through the second one
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by:mbonaci
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There are no templates for mail-in databases.
The whole point is that any Lotus database (nsf file) can be set up to receive mail (have mail-in functionality) and be given an e-mail address.
That's why the topic is called "Creating a mail-in database document for a new database".

The mail-in database can then be accessed by one person, or by multiple people, who have access to read the database, which is defined in the database ACL.

Example is Statistics & Reports database that resides on a server and receives e-mails from Domino server (monitoring, probes, ...).
E.g. it can be used to avoid sending an e-mail to multiple recipients, if a business process requires that more that one person acts on the same document in no particular order:
    http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/domhelp/v8r0/topic/com.ibm.designer.domino.main.doc/H_ABOUT_INFORMATION_FLOW.html
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by:Sjef Bosman
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Just another example: think of a support database in Notes that receives all mail sent to support (at) company.com. Depending on the sender's address, mail is immediately attached to the correct Customer in the database. If the sender mentioned a reference to an earlier call, the mail is attached to the call as well. If there is no reference, a new Call is created and the Customer Service responsible person is notified. All mail is kept in the same database in a coherent way.

More examples on demand... :-)
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by:Sjef Bosman
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@wsewasim: your 2nd link is an awful page with old data, lots of unsubstantiated statements and innuendo, several case studies without a case, and surprisingly little financial corroboration. The first one seems to be an unbiased attempt to compare both products, but only for mail.

In fact, both products cannot be compared without skipping most of the benefits of a Domino/Notes infrastructure. In short: to replace one functionally integrated Domino/Notes environment, you might need 10 or more MS-products and glue them together.

So why move away??
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by:Big Monty
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@mbonaci:

that was pretty much what i was thinking, that Mail-In databases are repositories for email messages. but it also seems like they can be used to create and store other documents (non-email messages), am I correct in this assumption?

@sief_bosman:

in your example, is the "customers in the database" in reference to a CUSTOMERS table in the database? if so, it seems this would be equivalent to Public Folders in Exchange, no?


upping the points to 500 as this could get more in-depth than I previously imagined
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by:Sjef Bosman
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Ah no, a Notes database is nothing like an SQL database: no tables, no records. Instead, Notes is a hierarchical document database. A database contains documents (say records), and views show collections of documents. A document is basically a collection of fields with values (and documents originating from the same form can even contain different fields). Very flexible.

A mail database is therefore a document database where all mails are stored as documents. A mail document contains fields like Subject, Body, Sent, Received, and many more. The mail database also contains Appointments, ToDos, and even Contacts. There are views to display these types of documents.

A service database might contain Customers, Contacts, Calls, Mails, Solutions. It might have some workflow in it, when Calls are being handled. It may contain a view that displays both Customers and Contacts.

So, a Notes database is flexible, programmable, not restricted to a fixed number of tables or columns, extensible, etc.

There's more: it is a standard feature of a Notes/Domino environment that ANY database can have a replica on another server, usually in the same company, and that these replicas exchange modifications, so both replicas are kept identical (there's usually a lag of one or more hours). This feature is also used for users who want to take their mail home on a notebook, but leave a copy on the server. A local replica of the mail database is created locally, and each time they have a connection to the server new mails are copied over.

And then security, reliability, etc...

Wow... better read the wikis there are. Here's a fairly complete one:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_Lotus_Notes
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by:Big Monty
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Thanks for the clarification. Its more like an XML document than a traditional database (like sql server) it seems. Can you provide an example of what the equivalent would be in Exchange? It almost seems like it would just be Outlook Forms
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by:Sjef Bosman
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XML document... Hmmm, yes, why not. But then a document without a fixed template. The template (a Notes form) is another XML-document, stored in the same database, that can show a document on the screen, with placeholders for text and fields, etc. A database can contain agents that process documents, either scheduled or called manually. One type of scheduled agent is an agent that handles incoming mail. This type is used in an application that handles mail (the application is then also a mail-in database).

I don't know Outlook forms... AFAIK there is no equivalent in Exchange. You just can't do it in Exchange. I suppose there are tools around Exchange that can help a lot, maybe even commercially available. They'll never be integrated the way Notes is. I suppose you're more familiar with Exchange than I... Sorry.
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by:mbonaci
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Here's a similar question that popped up a couple of weeks ago:
    http://www.experts-exchange.com/Q_26810673.html
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by:mbonaci
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> ... can be used to create and store other documents (non-email messages), am I correct in this assumption?

You're right, it can store any document (collection of attributes).
You can programmatically create document with arbitrary number of attributes of any type, without conforming to any constraints.

Lotus is ideal for any kind of official/legal document management, since there are no relations (PK/FK) between entities (of course, you can enforce it if you like), and when something changes in one document you don't want the change to be propagated across the model, since legal documents mustn't change once they are created. Document versioning is natively supported.

If you have more specific questions (how to achieve this or that), feel free to ask...
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by:Big Monty
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thanks for all of the info, I've written up my report back to the higher ups summarizing what you've helped me to understand. I'm going to leave this open for a day or two, in case I have any further question.

Cheers
Josh
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by:Sjef Bosman
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Boy, would I like to get a glimpse of your report...  ;-))
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by:Big Monty
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it was just a summary of what Mail-Ins are and how those features aren't really built into Exchange...nothing too formal :)
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by:Sjef Bosman
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:-)
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