Lotus Pumps Up Application Integration With LEI

Announced last month, Lotus Development Corp.'s Enterprise Integrator (LEI) 3.0 is an upgraded version of the Domino application development family that allows end users to quickly create collaborative Web applications.

Formerly known as Lotus NotesPump, LEI requires no programming to schedule high-volume data transfer or synchronization between Domino and various data sources, including relational database, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and transaction processing systems. Using a forms-based interface, LEI also provides access via LotusScript and Java for custom integration needs, such as data transformation.

LEI consists of a Domino management application and a multi-threaded server. With LEI, organizations can incorporate existing enterprise information into Domino-based Internet, intranet and extranet applications. LEI extends the capabilities of Domino Enterprise Connections Services (DECS) -- which provides real-time access to enterprise data sources.

"Business partners are excited about the combination of LEI and DECS, because they can rapidly prototype applications and show a customer or end-user how quickly the data will come into Domino and how it will appear," said Bart Lautenback, group manager of Web applications marketing for Lotus (Cambridge, Mass.).

"This is a very big focus for us," Lautenback adds. "The AS/400 market is built around ISVs -- and they are an important part of the LEI and Domino story. There are places in the enterprise integration space, such as employee self-service, supplier relationship management and customer relationship management, where this is particularly critical. We have broad reach into a number of different connectors in the AS/400 space. We also have some specific ISVs who understand the AS/400 market, small business and ERP, who have built their own connectors because they see the value of working with Domino.

"Companies with enterprise applications that have been reluctant to bring those to the Web, or to front-end business processes that help manage customers via the Web, can now to do that easily with LEI -- in conjunction with Domino," Lautenback continues.

In a private survey funded by Lotus, about 49 percent of the 120 developers in North America queried said they are building applications connected to back-end systems for Notes and Domino. Lautenback says, "Using centrally stored enterprise information is a big advantage for Notes and Domino customers. Domino brings some very new and differentiating capabilities for bringing back-end information to the Web."

As a Lotus Business Partner since 1994, Mark Watson, principal and VP of software development at Binary Tree Inc. (New York), is using Domino and LEI for data integration between DB2 and AS/400s -- specifically, front-ending green-screen applications using a Web browser via Domino.

"We were able to create a front end in probably four or five days," Watson says. "Without Domino and LEI, it would have taken substantially longer, since we would have had to start completely from ground zero. It was a very, very fast way to get our application up and running. I feel the real-time aspect of LEI is an important feature. If we build an application where Web access provides a method to easily obtain and display information from the database, end users will notice genuine savings in productivity.

"For us, LEI is one of the few products available on the AS/400 that really allows us to do what we do," Watson continues. "On the AS/400, we’re dealing with companies that have existing catalogs and systems. Using LEI, we can integrate our product very quickly."

"Bridging products, those that can facilitate getting data from one source to another, are very valuable and possibly long overdue," says Steve Weissman, president of Kinetic Information, a Waltham, Mass.-based IT research and consulting firm. "Applications that have this kind of functionality may quickly become a commodity --to the point where they may be integrated and cease to be a stand-alone offering."

Available at an estimated retail price of price of $7,995, LEI 3.0 ships with the following Domino Connectors: Domino Directory Services, Novell Directory Services, LDAP services, previously released Connectors for relational database applications and File and Text systems. Domino Connectors for SAP R/3, J.D. Edwards OneWorld, PeopleSoft and Oracle Applications and BEA Tuxedo are sold separately.