ERP Vendors Lined Up For Domino Connector

Lotus Development Corp. (Cambridge, Mass.) recently unveiled another component of its strategy to integrate the functions of popular AS/400 Enterprise Resource Planning solutions with Lotus Notes and Domino Application Server.

During the first quarter of 1999, J.D. Edwards’ OneWorld will join ERP offerings from Lawson Software (Minneapolis) and Infinium Software Inc. (Hyannis, Mass.) that achieve integration with Domino through a Lotus Domino Connector. Other midrange ERP vendors expected to join the Domino Connector initiative during the first quarter of next year are SAP (Chesterbrook, Pa.), PeopleSoft Inc. (Pleasanton, Calif.) and Oracle Corp. (Redwood Shores, Calif.).

The announcement of Domino Connector’s availability with offerings from major ERP vendors in the AS/400 market "underscores" Lotus’ interest in that segment, according to Wayne Janzen, ERP industry manager for Lotus, who adds that, in partnering with these six companies, Lotus effectively covers 50 percent of the ERP market. "Our combined strengths now are beginning to provide customers a distinctive approach in the way they capture and manage information, that typically leads to a much more efficient use of operational knowledge both within and across the enterprise," he says.

With the integration capabilities Lotus plans to provide in Version 4.6.3 of Domino – scheduled for availability by the end of November – "companies can now link with their trading partners to deliver a complete supply-chain solution in areas such as joint demand forecast, common logistics strategies or more efficient scheduling activities," Janzen says.

One of the goals of the Connector is to extend workflow out to a company’s trading partners, according to Janzen. "A good example would be having customers from a self-serve standpoint be able to enter orders themselves through a Web browser," he says.

Domino Connector will be available on AS/400 and Windows NT first, "which is where the primary customer intersect is anyway," explains Bart Lautenbach, group marketing manager for application development at Lotus. "The value of the Connector is really bringing information back and forth between various different systems, allowing people to access data within those ERP solutions and then using Domino to work with them."

The Domino Connector works with both Lotus Enterprise Integrator (formerly known as NotesPump) and Domino Enterprise Connection Services (DECS), which is built into Domino 4.6.3. DECS allows real-time access to any ERP package that accepts the Domino Connector, according to Janzen. Enterprise Integrator 3.0 – available Q1 1999 – is required for users to achieve high-volume data transfer.

One IT professional biding his time until he can make the move to a consolidated J.D. Edwards/Lotus implementation is Will Hopkins, VP of IT for CanWel Distribution Ltd., a Burnaby, B.C.-based distributor of building materials and related products, serving the retail and industrial markets.

CanWel currently uses J.D. Edwards OneWorld across a network consisting of a single AS/400 Model S30 -- running V4R1 – front-ended by NT servers running Domino 4.5 at each of 15 remote sites throughout Canada. Within six months, Hopkins hopes to be ready to consider an alternative that would consist of V4R3, Domino 4.6.3 and the Domino Connector to OneWorld.

For CanWel, Connector would bring Domino, "which we think is the best container out there for unstructured information," together with OneWorld, Hopkins says. "It brings the integration between the unstructured and informal world that Domino represents together with the structured and formal world that OneWorld represents to us."

Hopkins believes Connector is going to save his IT department from "doing some work that we otherwise would have had to undertake ourselves. We’d much rather be good users of information technology than good builders of information technology. We already had in our plans some significant level of integration between the two environments, and this will certainly help us get there a lot quicker."