IBM's introduction of an integrated Domino server has certainly made an impact on the AS/400's fortunes. IBM estimates that nearly 30% of all sales of the "Bumblebee" servers go to new users -- people who have never run an AS/400 before.
But has Domino helped boost the AS/400's e-commerce capabilities?
The simple answer is yes, because Domino makes it extremely easy to build Web sites without any training at all.
"The biggest nightmare with Internet commerce is providing content," says Jon Johnston, a consultant at Creative Business Solutions in Minneapolis. "With Domino, it is very easy to fill out forms, and then you have content -- just like that. It is so easy my mother could do it."
As Johnston describes it, the AS/400 is an excellent base platform for e-commerce. Then something has to provide the touch-and-feel interface that's so important to bringing in customers, and that something is Domino.
The form-oriented process makes it very easy to build, manage and update Web sites. And Domino's groupware and e-mail capabilities can help when integrating e-mail into a company's Web site.
Domino is also a popular development platform for IBM/Lotus business partners, so there are several e-commerce-oriented applications already available for the platform to make the process even easier.
But Domino doesn't fit for all e-commerce efforts.
IBM's WebSphere suite is better suited for high transaction e-commerce uses than Domino, Johnston says.
Still, Domino can work on the front end and hand off the high workload to WebSphere, he notes. And Domino is an excellent choice for low transaction uses, including online customer support applications.
Below are some links of interest:
Ouellette is a contributing editor in Scarborough, Maine.