Can you really search in Lotus Notes?

by Volker Weber

Ed writes:

Actually, user, you can search your emails in Notes. Have been able to since, hmm, version 2? Certainly version 3. Even without a full-text index. Though obviously it would be faster with an index.

Well, you could search in Notes. If you did not have that IT department which is under pressure to cut cost and has to switch off the full text index, since they are running out of storage of all the multiple PPT files in users' mailboxes, which they are too lazy to find and therefore resend to all their colleagues. You could even try searching without a full text index, but you won't really find anything. And you have this 6.x version which your CIO calls "state of the art".

Yes, you could learn how to properly set up a replica of your Notes mailbox to reside on your local hard drive and then activate the full text index, which gets stored in your roaming Windows profile. And will by synced with your profile on the server which sits on the same expensive EMC storage device that does not have room for your full text index in Notes. That in turn drives up cost again, because you now have two mailboxes plus the full text index. And the backup on that server does not understand why the file gets dirty every 10 minutes, so it has to backup your database to background store again and again.

And then your COO starts thinking about Google apps. Since you can always search for stuff and you will actually find everything really, really quickly. Don't focus too much on why Outlook presumably sucks even more. This is the real killer:

You are currently using 2641 MB (40%) of your 6658 MB.

And it is being piloted by several enterprises you would not even count as a potential user.


Has the COO also figured out how to be comply with all the new rules concerning, for example, archiving? Does he feel good about having all the corporate e-mail in somebody else's data center? Can he set up his own policies and rules regarding mail security?

If he/she doesn't see any problems there, then sure, go for it. But don't come running to me once the shit hits the fan.

Joerg Michael, 2008-04-25

But don't come running to me once the shit hits the fan.

Why not? That’s what we consultants charge the big money for! :o)

Ben Poole, 2008-04-25

"Well, you could search in Notes. If you did not have that IT department which is under pressure to cut cost and has to switch off the full text index"

This has to be one of my biggest gripes with corporate deployments of Notes. The product is perfectly capable of performing a pretty good accurate search, but the IT dept. hobble it. Aaargghh!

Not being an administrator, I'm not sure what options there are, but it would be great if all non rebuild-able data could be configured to run on fast, cheap, unreliable, non-backed up disk. If the disk goes pop, no problem, the index just needs to be rebuilt from the docs that are stored on redundant, reliable, backed up disk.

Kerr Rainey, 2008-04-25

Afaik Google is using desktop computers (with modified power supplies to improve power efficiency), regular cheap ide/s-ata drives. They rent data center space and infrastructure instead of building them on their own. Cheap hardware combined with fantastic management tools, little to no software licenses. True, an internal IT will probably never be as cheap as Google but I think there are much better ways of cutting cost than disabling the Notes FTI.
Unfortunately some of the things that Google does would be a no go for an internal IT.

Henning Heinz, 2008-04-25

Google does own and operate data centers

Dan Sickles, 2008-04-25

You are correct. Afaik they at least also use facilities like the former Global Crossing location ("Hopfenpost") in Munich.
My point was more about that many companies tend to oversize their IT infrastructure.

Henning Heinz, 2008-04-25


They are about an hour from here. I have driven buy them and they are pretty impressive.

Bruce Elgort, 2008-04-25

Given that Google is a U.S. company and the insane PATRIOT-related crap and paranoia, I cannot possibly imagine how any EU company could use Google apps (as they'd place all of the data at risk). What am I missing?

Stefan Tilkov, 2008-04-25

If Google would actually ship their Apps in a box (think: appliance) with Gears enabled for everything (think: replication) and encrypted remote storage on their servers (think: backup), I would surely consider getting rid of Notes or any other platform where the software maintenance and upgrade plan relies solely on customer lock-in.

Karsten W. Rohrbach, 2008-04-25

Well - I'm sure that's not far off... they did give us after all

Erik Sorensen, 2008-04-26

> feel good about having all the corporate e-mail in somebody else's data center

Yes, why should you feel bad about it? Why is someone who specialises in (eg) running a data center securely worse at protecting data than the customer himself (who may specialise in, lets say, baking bread)?

Many (most?) companies will not find the cost/benefit justification to do email archiving in-house. It will not only triple the infrastructure cost (acquire/journal of current email stream, possibly import older backups into the email archive, search index, actual email archive storage [may be somewhat compressed if the search index is any good]), it will also require staff capable of handling basically yet another email system.

Doing email archiving on your own is very, very expensive. Fine if you can afford it ;-)

> You are currently using 2641 MB (40%) of your 6658 MB.

Mailfiles of only 2 1/2 GByte? Cute ;-)

Matthias Leisi, 2008-04-26

It would be a mailfile between 100 and 250 MB depending on the customer. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2008-04-26

Do you know anyone who has used Notes for email/apps who is now using Gmail, and likes it?

I've been a Notes user for 20 years (almost). I've been a GMail user for 2.5 months. I don't really like it. The UI needs a lot of work. Calendar does not allow attachments. Repeating meetings are iffy (ok, there are issues with those in Notes, too).

Disconnected-use options are very few, or nonexistent.

But, ok, it's cheap! I get 6gb of storage for my personal GMail account (free). My company can host a site on for $50/user/year or so, and each user gets 25gb. Not too shabby (I wonder if google count on nobody really using that much?)

The features? Other than good search? eh.

Bob Balaban, 2008-04-26

@Bob - I've been a Notes user for 15 years. I love Gmail. It's not as full-featured as Notes (or Outlook), but then that's the old 80/20 rule again, just like when people talk about how MS Office is full of features they don't care about. It's all about the simplicity. And the threaded conversations. And, yes, the search is very, very good - and incredibly fast.

Rob McDonagh, 2008-04-26

I use Gmail for most of my personal mail. I find the 80/20 rule to be a bit lacking! Seems more like 50/50 to me. I miss a lot of rich text features, very poor attachment handling, and the address book is too simple. I find the threads VERY confusing when multiple responses come in from people for the same conversation. They are a single stream, not branches of responses based in a proper hierarchy. I guess conversations with multiple people should not be in email though in the first place. They would be better via some type of discussion application, but email is the defacto, and I can see bothering my friends, family, and teammates with sending them to another place, when most people still communicate via email.

Alan Lepofsky, 2008-04-26

Bob, the iPhone does very few things with Bluetooth, but those it does very well. Nokia phones do many things with Bluetooth, but most owners fail to use them properly because they are too confusing.

I have often heard the argument that Notes user do it all wrong because they don't have proper training. You and I may not be the best people to judge which features need to be in the product. I would even go one step further: if you talk to customers, you are often talking to the "power users". They will demand features that nobody really needs.

On the other hand, Google calendar users seem to be very happy with the very easy calendar syndication. Many have multiple calendars that they share with their family or their coworkers. In that respect the Google offering seems to be way ahead of many other solutions.

Alan, the 80/20 rule does not mean that it has 80% functions that only 20% use. Asking for 50/50 is similar to demanding a raise of one fifth instead of one third.

The whole discussion is not about features. It is about solving the basic needs. Storing lots and lots of emails over a long period of time. And finding them very quickly. At a fraction of the cost. Connectivity through the most basic clients as well as mobile or desktop clients. It's all based on standard protocols. All I can say is that Google seems to be finding the "pragmatist in pain" it needs to cross the chasm. If that happens, the game changes.

Volker Weber, 2008-04-26

You can all help to make Domino admins live a bit easier.
Please vote for this on IdeaJam:

Full-text indexes: Specify dedicated location

This is exactly what Kerr Rainey suggested.

Uwe Brahm, 2008-04-27

I know a company that uses google apps and everybody hates it. Especially the calendar.
If you want to keep your ISO-Certification or comply with SOX, you better stay away from google. No chance to pass an audit with that.

Christian Tillmanns, 2008-04-28

interesting discussion that is ... I've been a Notes user for ... many many many years, have been a Notes developer and Lotus/IBM Business Partner for many many years ... and for the last 3 years have been mostly involved with a company that does 90% of its computer work (!!! not just communication, actual work) in Outlook.

I have to say that I was surprised to find myself comfortable working with many Outlook features (no question that many are lacking) and that something is missing for me when reading those posts (not only here) from Notes-evangelists (yes, a lot sound like myself some years ago) - it is like you tell someone to look outside the box, and what happens is that the box just is made bigger.

The point is that the client not necessarily is interested in that box at all. Took me a while to get that for myself. But I can tell that it's very interesting to observe clients work, think and act at their computers. Yes, it comes down to features in a product, but it's less the question of how big a steering wheel is if the client buys car A or car B, even though the steering wheel is a very important part of any car.

... anyway, not sure if this is useful. Just a little comment that it is not only better marketing that has made Outlook the more popular client ... if Notes was THE killer application, people would die to get it.

Sidenote: Since that client of mine uses Outlook in a very special way I recommended to them (and another company who would fund the project) to create a customized email interface with Notes ... the CIO of the other company only replied that he spent the last 10 years on getting Notes out of his clients' infrastructures ... who is to blame?

Stefan Heinz, 2008-04-28

My wife's small company switched from Notes to GMail after their publishing firm exited the Lotus market (though they still have apps - of course). You DID NOT want to be around the first couple weeks. We still have "I miss Notes" therapy sessions, often involving crying (I won't tell you if it's me or her), and always involving a glass of wine. The only thing she likes is that she can more easily check her email on my laptop.

Rob Novak, 2008-04-28

But is searching only searching in Lotus Notes.

The better Search is a integrated Company Search which searches in your Mailfile, the Intranet your Fileshares, other Applications/Databases etc. One Search-Box many results.

Your Quote:
"You are currently using 2641 MB (40%) of your 6658 MB."
is right, but this are 6658 MB hosted in the U.S. which German Company wants to host data in the U.S. ?

The other problem with Apps etc. is that you will not get any informations about a road map/ release plan from Google. (also not with a signed NDA)

In my opinion Google is not really ready for enterprise. They are only ready for their campus.

Ray Guilliard, 2008-05-14

Good objections, Ray. But Google (a) does not need to find the "pragmatist in pain" outside of the U.S. and (b) it can pretty much host data in any country it wants to.

Google will find many customers below what IBM considers an "enterprise". When it does find an enterprise customer, it may trigger lots of others currently sitting on the fence. Email and C&S are important applications but they rarely provide an edge over competitors and as such they are too expensive in many organizations.

Volker Weber, 2008-05-14

Email and C&S are important applications but they rarely provide an edge over competitors and as such they are too expensive in many organizations.

true, so true. They are classical commodity apps, no one can differentiate itself with them to gain competitive advantage.

Armin Auth, 2008-05-14

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