Thursday, November 1, 2001

Desperately seeking wireless

WIRELESS ACCESS

By Dan Velasco

It is very rare that I give up on a project, especially one that's to be presented to a high-powered executive in my company. In fact, I can't remember doing so in recent memory. But I recently gave up, at least temporarily, on trying to implement a wireless solution using Domino Everyplace Access and a BlackBerry device.

Here's the story, which is probably familiar to some of you: an executive has friends who are using the BlackBerry device and are very happy with it. He asked our group if we could provide a similar solution for him. He wanted wireless access to both his email and calendar information from a BlackBerry device. Having worked in the past for SkyTel and being fairly familiar with wireless technologies, I thought, "Hey, I'll be able to get this working for him perfectly and will be hailed as a hero."

The first thing I had to do was decide what software to use. The two main software packages I knew of were Domino Everyplace Access and the BlackBerry Enterprise Server for Lotus Domino.

BlackBerry Enterprise Server

The first thing I found when doing my research was that the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (at http://www.blackberry.net/solutions/enterprise/professional/lotus/index.shtml) didn't provide wireless access/synchronization to Notes calendar information. They do have a wireless calendar synchronization feature, but right now it's only for Microsoft Exchange. In fact, one of the things that was really frustrating about this project was that there seemed to be more solutions for Exchange that were just what I was looking for than there are for Domino. Since wireless calendar access was critical, the BlackBerry server was out of the running. It also didn't help that the pricing was per server ($2,999) for up to 20 users, which meant that, unless or until we got more people connected, it would be one expensive solution. It also bothered me that the Microsoft Exchange version had a package for $999 for 5 users.

Domino Everyplace Access

The Domino Everyplace Access solution (at http://lotus.com/home.nsf/welcome/domeveryplace) would allow for wireless access to mail, calendar, and even address book information. This seemed to be just what we were looking for, and based on my positive experiences with other Lotus products, including Mobile Services for Domino (which I reviewed for DominoPower at http://www.dominopower.com/issues/issue200005/msd001.html), I initially hoped for an easy installation and a quick turnaround in getting the BlackBerry device up and running. I was even encouraged by the following quote from the DEA (Domino Everyplace Access) FAQ on Lotus' site: