Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Lotus OEM branded DataDirect 5.2 ODBC drivers situation

Many Lotus customers rely on the Lotus OEM branded DataDirect ODBC drivers for connectivity between Domino and other systems. In the past Lotus made these available on Passport Advantage, but they pulled the version 5.1 drivers sometime after September 2006 (that was when I last downloaded them). Recently I went a few rounds with Lotus Support in trying to get the 5.2 release of the drivers and found out that the version 5.2 drivers were shipped as part of Domino 6.5.6. They were not put in Domino 6.5.5 or 7.0.2 because the agreement hadn't been finalized, and they are not available separately on Passport Advantage, either. I e-mailed the Passport Advantage group to ask why. Here is their response:
Our records indicate the ODBC Drivers are being withdrawn from support. Kindly contact the our technical Helpdesk in order to discuss the alternate solution, IBM SERV at 1-800-426-7378 (have your IBM customer number handy). The hours of operation are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The grammar problems annoyed me, but I was more concerned about the "withdrawn from support" statement. I called the IBM SERV number and was transferred to Passport Advantage. The guy at Passport Advantage, whose name I couldn't comprehend, took the same information I had already e-mailed and put me on hold for a while. After about 15 minutes of explaining, re-explaining, and answering the same questions repeatedly, he finally decided that I needed to call the IBM SERV number again.

Okay, ring around the call queues. I called back in to IBM SERV. I explained the situation to Nick, a pleasant enough sounding young lady, who hung up on me when I couldn't give her a specific operating system. I called back, this time getting someone I couldn't comprehend, who also hung up on me during my explanation. I called in a third time, getting Brandy, who wanted to reopen an old case. After several minutes spent trying to explain that this wasn't really the same issue I finally let her reopen the case. I figured at least I could get on the phone with someone who might have a clue, and by now I had been on the phone for more than 30 minutes and gotten nowhere.

Christine, the Enterprise Integration person who helped me previously, called me back. I explained the situation to her and she assured me that the DataDirect drivers are supported, but IBM's agreement with DataDirect prevents the drivers from being distributed separately from Domino. They are included on the installation CD's and in the web downloads, starting with Domino 6.5.6.

Now the next problem: you can't order Domino 6.5.6 on CD yet, so your only source is the web download. When you unpack the web download the ODBC drivers are in a file that gets expanded during setup, so you can't just copy them out of the install set. What it boils down to is the only way to get the drivers is to install a Domino 6.5.6 server. Mixing Domino versions just to get ODBC drivers doesn't sound like much fun to me.

Christine said she will talk to some colleagues and see what they come up with. I understand this is how IBM had to structure the agreement, but I don't think it is very customer friendly. Hopefully there will be a loud enough outcry that it will change. For now getting the Lotus OEM branded DataDirect ODBC drivers is going to be a real pain.


  1. Charles, I've been asking questions about this also, I'm glad you got the support questions anwsered. Saved me from the call queues.
    After unpacking the web download I was able to extract the contents of file and get to the installer, but you do need to have an app to look into these cabs, they're not standard cab files they are InstallShield's version.

  2. Vitor, I'm working with Linux and I had no clue which compressed file had the one I wanted, or even what it was called when I started. :-) Thanks for the heads up about the CAB's for Windows not being standard, I'll dig up a tool to peek inside InstallShield's flavor of the standard.

  3. Right, I did know you were working on Linux, forgot about it.
    From your blog I can see we are doing the some kind of work, i.e. moving data back and forward db2 on iseries and notes/domino apps, main difference being the linux boxes you're running.