Thursday, March 26, 2009

How far can you go with Lotus Foundations Branch Office?

I've been looking at Lotus Foundations Branch Office (LFBO) recently. First up, full marks for the Foundations Team for upgrading the documentation to a standard worthy of IBM. Well done guys. Second, let's see how far LFBO goes as a Domino server. Here's an except from the LFBO Administration guide.

Lotus Foundations Branch Office contains a Lotus Domino server that may be used like any other Lotus Domino server, but there are some Lotus Foundations Branch Office licensing differences:
  • It must be used as a ″spoke″ within an existing Lotus Domino Enterprise server ″hub and spoke″ infrastructure
  • It must connect into a hub that is a Lotus Domino Enterprise server or IBM Lotus Domino Messaging Server
  • It can be used with up to 500 users
  • The Lotus Foundations Branch Office server cannot be clustered
  • It does not include bundled packages normally included in other Lotus Domino® packages, such as IBM® WebSphere® Application Server, IBM WebSphere Portal Server, IBM Tivoli® Directory Integrator or IBM DB2® Enterprise Edition packages

I can live without clustering and the Websphere/Tivoli/DB2 bundle but the gotcha is in the hub and spoke rule. A Foundations server can't be a hub so you can't create a hub and spoke topography consisting of just two Foundations servers. To be fair to IBM, they are selling this unit as a Branch Office solution so you're getting exactly what you paid for.

Where I'm unclear at the moment is how LFBO works in an organisation with (say) 900 users equally divided between three sites with the primary site as a Domino Enterprise server talking to a couple of remote LFBO servers on the spokes. It might need some technical juggling to reconcile the Foundations security model with the existing Domino Enterprise server address book, especially if you are migrating two thirds of your existing Domino ids into Foundations ids.

One things for sure... this model will take more than 30 minutes per server to set up and bed down.


Anonymous said...

Could they be setup as separate domains and then cross certified?

Graham Dodge said...

Cross-certifying Domino servers was not supported in LFS 1.0 and the subject is not mentioned in the documentation for 1.1 or for Branch Office.

Maybe this feature is one of the stakes in the ground that IBM/Lotus will use to differentiate Domino products between the SMB market and the 'regular' Enterprise customer.

Anonymous said...

I have been a Nitix and now Foundations user for over 4 years and this is the single topic I am struggling with and have been.

I have one main office and a couple branch offices with a couple users. I have historically forwarded the remote users email down to their local server so they did not have to wait for outlook to download the email. It all happened in the back ground. When Foundations Start came out I was excited until I found out the Domino Servers could not be sync.

They now come out with LFBO, but it is not designed to work with a Standard LFS server.

I do see they have brought back NS3 which does give some scalability for users and domains, but to the best of my knowledge you still can not sync the domino servers.

So I am stuck and my partner can not seem to get any straight answers from IBM.

All I want is a server with scalability in users and the ability to sync Domino Servers. Is that too much to ask.



Graham Dodge said...

I've read your post a couple of times and I still don't understand why you consider Foundations as limited in scalability. Can you expand on that point?

It is frustrating when you find that a new release of software is lacking the one feature for which you have been hanging out. I can sympathize with you but I realize that that don't pay your taxman.

Anonymous said...


Sorry for the confusion. My understanding is that the new Lotus Foundations Branch Office can be configured to sync with an enterprise domino server. It is also my understanding that Lotus Foundations Start does not fit into the category of an enterprise Domino Server. So I would not be able to sync domino servers.

If your understanding is different then mine, please clear this up for me.

When I say the scalability is limited I am referring to the lack of ability to sync Domino servers using only Lotus Foundations servers.



Graham Dodge said...

I agree that a Foundations server can't be a hub so you can't create a replicating topography consisting of one Foundations servers and one LFBO server.

My head scratching moment is around the problem of how to link the Directories of three offices each with 300 staff. Your Domino Enterprise server in the Head office has no problem, but your two Branch office servers each need to juggle 900 Domino names when 600 of those names have no local Foundations account. I'm sure its possible but the penny hasn't dropped for me on that technical point yet,

When discussing 'scalability' you were referring to the first issue and I was referring to the second.

Mutual mistake.