Your CEO buys an iPhone. What is your next move?

by Volker Weber


As I was discussing integration between Microsoft products and various other offerings today, I suddenly had this thought:

You run an IT shop in a medium business. For the sake of argument let's assume you are running Notes 7 and are getting ready to move to Notes 8. Next week, your CEO is going to buy an iPhone. And he will demand you support its applications, foremost mail and calendaring.

What do you do?



When he calls ask him what an iPhone is...

Chris Whisonant, 2007-06-20 01:14

Tell him no problem, however, I will need one of my own in order to evaluate and test any possible solutions.

And it could take several weeks.

Greg Walrath, 2007-06-20 01:46

Would the answer be different if you replaced Notes 7/8 for Exchange 2003/07? I'm not being snide (for once). That's a serious question - is Apple including software to sync with Exchange? I've seen contradictory information about that online. As far as I know for sure, only Yahoo and Google's mail servers are available as push-style engines for the iPhone.

Oh, and what Greg said. Definitely!

Rob McDonagh, 2007-06-20 02:02


Colin Williams, 2007-06-20 02:14

The same process that is in place for any other device: here is the published list of what is supported. If your device isn't listed we will have to get one in house and evaluate it. Then it follows the path Greg outlined.

Charles Robinson, 2007-06-20 02:29

1) Buy an iPhone
2) Learn as much as you can about it
3) Schedule some time with the CEO before he asks you for help
4) Repeat step 1-3 for all executives who are in your food chain

Bruce Elgort, 2007-06-20 03:17

Oh, and immediately after you convince the CEO to buy YOU an iPhone, take a look at MartinScott's WirelessMail. Works like a charm on Notes 7 & 8 and combining it with a Google or Yahoo mail account would give you the mail half of the question. Other than syncing unread marks, that is.

I don't know of any way to similarly handle calendars. WirelessMail will send you your calendar as a daily summary or you can query it by email for specific events. I can think of ways to get the schedule into the device (publish via iCalendar format via agent to and subscribe from the iPhone - it CAN subscribe, right?), but not a way to accept invitations on the phone.

Rob McDonagh, 2007-06-20 04:34

I would have to agree with Rob that there must be some 3rd party application that will allow the iPhone to sync with Notes/Domino. WirelessMail will probably do the trick. Or mNotes. In any event, it would be in your best interest to inquire now, before the iPhonecall comes in. As you know that it will.

Gregg Eldred, 2007-06-20 04:46

"An iPhone? Wow! Does it have a camera? You should see the pictures I got of you with my cell phone at the last company Christmas party!"

Richard Schwartz, 2007-06-20 04:52

I can't believe you've got an iPhone and still need the IT group to come and tell you how to turn it on.

Can't you use the lovely UI of webmail with safari :-)

Carl Tyler, 2007-06-20 04:56

The CEO may also want to have these on his new iPhone.

Bruce Elgort, 2007-06-20 05:25

@Bruce: are those Notes apps?

Jan-Piet Mens, 2007-06-20 07:39

....oh, listen Boss, the i probably means I Phone and nothing else...

Viktor Kostic, 2007-06-20 09:00

Okay, auf Deutsch (keine Lust heute auf Englisch).

Unter der Annahme, dass der CEO die Originalanwendungen auf dem iPhone benutzen will und ihm nur Mail und Kalender wichtig sind, würde ich nach einer Lösung mittels SyncML suchen. Natürlich auch in der Hoffnung, dass mein CEO übermorgen wieder ein SyncML fähiges Handy verwenden wird.

Wenn er noch mehr Anwendungen auf dem iPhone haben will sehe ich folgende Möglichkeiten:
a) Zugriff via Browser auf die Anwendungen
b) Expeditor auf iPhone

Thomas Günter, 2007-06-20 10:14

Rob, no, the answer would not be different*. The challenge is the same, both for Domino and Exchange. I don't think Apple is going to support Domino or Exchange with proprietary protocols.

What I find interesting in the comments so far is that many IT people still think they can wag the dog. If the iPhone is a success, we will see how well this works.

Volker Weber, 2007-06-20 10:18

What do you do?Ask which project (s)he wants me to ditch in favour of getting this working, roll up my sleeves and prepare myself for more pain... ;o)

Ben Poole, 2007-06-20 11:43

Isn't it the same as when the Blackberries were introduced and IT departments were heard screaming and cursing (*) because they had to support those manager-tamagotchis?

(*) I witnessed two Blackberry - Notes server deployments - thank god I didn't have anything to do with them

Jens-Christian Fischer, 2007-06-20 12:22

It is similar, but at the same time the exact opposite. RIM concentrated on the proprietary platforms where Apple goes the IMAP/CalDAV route.

Volker Weber, 2007-06-20 12:44

just stay tuned. ;-)

marco foellmer, 2007-06-20 13:25

Blackbery Client for iPhone? Not sure but this would be very handy on this device

Albert Dandl, 2007-06-20 14:28

Just read this: Daring Fireball: Exchange Exchange

You are (of course) right: This could be interesting: Open standards....

Jens-Christian Fischer, 2007-06-20 14:33

well it seems that it will run Safari, and that is why they released Safari for windows. iNotes does not work on Safari for windows right now, but it probably could if it could get past the browser detection bit. That is a bunch of javascript which does this in /inotes/forms7.nsf on the s_MinUtils form It is nasty and somewhat obfuscated. I think it would be best to fool Domino into thinking that Safari is actually Firefox or a Gecko1.7 based browser.

Alan Bell, 2007-06-20 14:54

I asked the mNotes people if they will be supporting the iPhone and this is the response that I received:

Thank you for your message. Currently it is not possible to develop any third party applications other than web applications for the iPhones, so the answer to your question is no, I am afraid.

Gregg Eldred, 2007-06-20 15:28

Albert, Alan and Gregg, you keep thinking that you need to change the client. I think it boils down to supporting standard protocols at the server. Domino can speak IMAP, although not very well. So far it does not speak CalDAV.

Volker Weber, 2007-06-20 15:44

And so far, CalDAV is only a proposed standard. Does anyone other than Apple (and a couple of open source projects) actually have shipping code that supports it?

Richard Schwartz, 2007-06-20 16:02

Volker, I do not think this: "RIM concentrated on the proprietary platforms"

marco foellmer, 2007-06-20 16:11

Since Oracle is co-authoring RFC 4791 they may be next to support it.

Volker Weber, 2007-06-20 16:11

Marco, you call them Domino, Exchange and Groupwise. And now Google and Yahoo, but only for messaging. Polling POP3 and IMAP4 four times an hour is hardly "push".

Volker Weber, 2007-06-20 16:22

So if Larry Ellison buys an iPhone, I'm sure his IT staff will be able handle it.

Richard Schwartz, 2007-06-20 16:53

@Volker: I think IMAP and Domino is NOT the right option ;-)
Short after you present the device to your management you will get many calls and/or tickets regarding IMAP problems!

And you are more than right with the CalDAV Problem. A C*O without a synced calendar... NO WAY!

Joerg Hochwald, 2007-06-20 17:38

@Volker: Thanks for the clarification, now I understand the issue. And as a person that has setup/configured/used/supported Domino and IMAP, I am well aware of the concerns. And that does not make me happy.

Gregg Eldred, 2007-06-20 17:50

a calDAV server for Domino would be writable (not easy, but is writable) but it would take quite a lot of effort. Hacking iNotes to get it to work shouldn't be hard at all. IMAP on Domino is adequate. I now mostly use Thunderbird as my mail client talking to an assortment of servers including Domino. I haven't had a Domino specific IMAP problem.

Alan Bell, 2007-06-20 17:51

I have had lots of issues with IMAP and Domino. Until I was fed up with it and moved on to Cyrus on a Collax Business Server. I never knew IMAP could be so fast.

The first feature request you get will be IMAP IDLE. Invented by IBM but not implemented in Domino. If Domino would support this extension you could accommodate all Nokia Smartphones with pushmail out of the box.

Volker Weber, 2007-06-20 18:22

While I'm glad that others liked my suggestion (and I still do, too. Unfortunately, I'm not the mail admin here, so my chances of getting one of these is about nill. Besides, the AT&T service around here bites), others are correct in that we in IT cannot be the tail wagging the dog. But, there is that other question - what am I going to give up to get this to work?

If the C*O walks in with one of these, I'm going to have to say, "you know, we can fiddle with this a bit to get it to work, but you've just bought a brand-new, never-before-seen device (at least, not outside of demos) with a very limited SDK. Welcome to the bleeding edge - you need a lot of patience out here".

Fortunately most of the execs I've worked with realize when they've bought something new that may not be easily supported, and may need some time for everyone to get up to speed, especially with a device that, unlike the Blackberry, is not aimed squarely at the corporate market.

Greg Walrath, 2007-06-20 18:23

Well, Apple is going have an iCal server with the next OS-X release and the majority of code will also be available as Open Source
It should be relatively easy to exchange information with Domino/Notes as the iPhone seems to use real open standards. For a medium sized business I am not sure if that is what I would suggest to the CEO.
It is good if there is pressure coming from a company other than Microsoft as this makes both IBM and Microsoft equal players. IBM (as Apple) at least is a member of the Calendaring and Scheduling Consortium

Henning Heinz, 2007-06-20 18:32

@Volker IMHO IMAP on Domino has improved; as you rightly say, it doesn't support IDLE, and it isn't very fast, and it messes up the Sent folder, but apart from that it is quite useable as far as integration with Domino is concerned.

Actually it is quite sad that the standard protocols as implemented in Lotus Notes/Domino have been ignored so much. The IMAP client is plain lousy.

Jan-Piet Mens, 2007-06-20 20:58

iNotes actually doesn't work, even if you get past the browser detection.
bit of a shame really, back to calDAV I suppose.

Alan Bell, 2007-06-20 21:09

Of course 1st action: let the CEO approve one for myself *g*

I would have a look at Fumanbol (the artist formerly known as Sync4J), they to SyncML and have a Domino plug-in.

@Alan: My CalDAV for Domino is almost ready (albeit stalled). The DAV part is ready, just missing a few Cal pieces.

:-) stw

Stephan H. Wissel, 2007-06-21 09:07


What about the following things with IMAP:

- Meeting Invitations
- Doclinks
- FollowUp Flags

IMHO IMAP is a protocol of the 80's. Email, Calendaring and Contacts should be in one place together , like Notes, Exchange or Groupwise. I do no see any needs for using Imap.

Marco Foellmer, 2007-06-21 16:15

Ok, this is what you do:

You drop a mail to Volker, who blogs about it and the level of alertness about the issue skyrockets, after which dozens of comments make the following point kind of shine through:

Here sits stuff that shows you your email/calendar (phone/web/rich clients)
| receive data
here sits proprietory data to standard format data transformation layer
| send data
Here sit platforms that administers email/calendar (Notes, Exchange, Google, etc)

The question should not even be asked "how would Notes Mail integrate with xyz device", neither should Apple be toying with "who will jump to first try and integrate their mail platform with our new phone". The device should receive mail/calendar data in a standard format, the mail administration platform should provide mail/calendar data in a standard format. The End. SOA101.

And, to be honest, perhaps I am an admin ignoramus, but as a developer, I really, honestly thought, this type of thing was already in place. Never too old to learn...

Adeleida Bingham, 2007-06-21 18:58

Adelaida, you are not too old to learn. ;-)

Marco, IMAP4 Rev.1 is dated 1996. Doclinks predate URIs.

Volker Weber, 2007-06-21 19:45

Interesting. Just saw this on Ed Brill’s site:

Visto Announces Secure Corporate Email for Apple iPhone

Ben Poole, 2007-06-29 16:17

I would call for a board-meeting and ave him fired for wasting company time and resources.

Dag Kvello, 2007-10-02 08:47

I'm waiting for my CEO to do exactly that - call me and tell me we are both getting iPhones - and when he asks if I can make it work, the answer will be YES. We run Sybase's OneBridge software, and it connects almost any device (wireless, cell, cradle) to Domino. We've run it or it's predecessor for years, and it works great. Calendar, contacts, global address book, email. Only needs a non-dedicated server, and the Notes client installed on it - that and some locked down workstation setup outside the firewall for mobile connections (we use a Win2k PC locked down with Comodo firewall). is the direct link to a well hidden, but excellent product (IMHO) that has kept me away from Crackberry server or Good messaging nightmares.

Kevin Williams, 2008-07-13 03:46

The product is not well hidden. And I'm afraid your assessment of the other platforms seems to be a bit faith based.

You will be suprised to see that OneBridge differs quite a bit for the iPhone. It's a managed IMAP server with no support for syncing contacts or calendars to your iPhone.

Volker Weber, 2008-07-13 08:45

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Ceci n'est pas un blog is a personal website published by Volker Weber a.k.a. vowe. I am an author, consultant and systems architect based in Darmstadt, Germany.

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