September 28, 2001

Lotus Notes out, new systems in

Featured Image

Dr. Patricia Temple talks with Dr. Tanya Kowalczyk, a pediatric resident, before seeing patients in the pediatric continuity clinic. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Lotus Notes out, new systems in

Medical Center employees soon will have a new way to send e-mail. Lotus Notes will be phased out, beginning in October and ending by June 30, 2002. In its place will be two options: VU mail, used currently by University faculty, staff and students, and Exchange 2000, the latest Microsoft edition of e-mail. Administrators will decide which system to use for their department.

Users will have the ability to use one or both types of clients to make e-mail access as flexible as possible. Both systems have a Web-based client for the more mobile user, and they both also have a desktop client for those who want more control at the desktop.

Despite the switch the system promises to run more efficiently, more effectively, and simply will work more often than the current Notes e-mail system, said Jeff Kimble, VUMC’s director of Network Computing Services. With Lotus Notes, “daily server stability was always an issue,” Kimble said. And while he praised his staff for improved availability in the last year, the Lotus vendor technical support services were “less than desirable,” he said. “We need to approach 99.9 percent availability.”

Perhaps one of the more noticeable changes with the new software will be the eventual absence of the “mcmail” prefix on e-mail addresses. Everyone’s external e-mail address will show “” The “” designation will stay aboard for “legacy support,” meaning mail will still be delivered to the right person if it’s used, but it will not appear as the return address on new external e-mails.

The e-mail address directory will apply to Medical Center and University users alike. “As it stands now, if someone using Lotus Notes wants to e-mail someone using VU Mail, you have to type in the whole (VU Mail) address,” said Mike Harris, manager of Core Support and E-mail for the Medical Center. He also added, “With the new e-mail choices, we are developing an ‘integrated directory lookup’ for both systems to make finding an e-mail address much easier.”

In a Medical Center e-mail, Dr. William W. Stead, associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs and director of the Informatics Center, addressed the change as an answer to the many problems about which staff have voiced concern. “Users complained about Lotus Notes e-mail and we listened,” Stead wrote. He explained that Lotus Notes proved unstable when accessed by a variety of avenues—through the Web or at the desktop, via Netscape, Internet Explorer, Eudora or other software “clients.”

The new e-mail options should answer those problems, and administrators have a choice between two models designed for different levels of e-mail functionality. VU mail presents as the more modular, “meat-and-potatoes” approach to e-mail functionality with basic e-mail and add-ins for calendaring, etc. Exchange 2000 utilizes a few more options with an integrated approach to e-mail, including calendaring and file-access capabilities.

Regardless of choice, Kimble said, the two systems will have more interoperability. “The goal in the end is one collaborative (e-mail) environment, independent of choice of e-mail system the user makes,” he said.