Migrating from Lotus Notes to Microsoft
Very easy and very hard
AVAILABLE for Consultations or Contracting - I hold passports from Canada and The Netherlands. I love to travel and I would be happy to help you - either in person or working remotely.
In 1995, IBM acquired Lotus. For several years we were left alone and the culture did not change. It was a lot of fun to work for Lotus. I never did receive an IBM cheque. In 1999 the handwriting was on the wall and I decided it was time for me to leave. So I established V&M to do Lotus Notes/Domino Application Development, System Administration and Training. I've been at it ever since. The life of the consultant is constantly changing. It has given me the chance to travel across Canada and the United States, Scotland, England, Bermuda, Jamaica, Barbados and Hawaii. No travel to the Far East yet. Anyone?
Since December 2009, I have been working exclusively migrating from Lotus Notes to Microsoft.
First, for a Municipality in Southern Ontario, where we migrated from Notes Mail to Outlook/Exchange. There were 1,400 users spread across 7 sites. For this project we used Quest's Notes Migrator for Exchange and Coexistence Manager for Notes I know that things that look simple can be more complex once you scratch the surface. Notes encrypted email presents a challenge. I'm pretty pleased with the solution that I came up with.
Next, I went to Edmonton, Alberta to migrate Notes data to SharePoint. We started with completing an inventory of the Notes application in their environment. On this project we used Notes Migrator for SharePoint (NMSP). What an amazing tool. The developers have anticipated most everything that needs to be done. The challenge on this project was to convince them that while this product does an amazing job of moving the data, it does NOT migrate the program logic. The SharePoint developers will need to replicate the functionality of the Lotus Notes code. For a taste of what can be done NMSP (hint: it is not only about moving to SharePoint) please visit this blog. http://notes2sharepoint.org/
In the fall of 2010, I was part of the team that migrated MasterCard International Notes Mail to Outlook/Exchange, using Binary Tree's CMT for Notes. Lots of challenges on this project. We migrated users around the world. The Migration Team was working three shifts, so that as an office closed for business, we started migrating their data. Did you know that the people in the Sydney office, finish for the day at 1:00 AM Central Standard Time. There were user's whose mail files were 20 GB.
Most recently, I worked on the migration of 15,000 Notes mail files to Exchange at URS Corporation in Tampa, Florida and via remote access. Remote access keeps the costs down. URS Corporation is a leading provider of engineering, construction and technical services for public agencies and private sector companies around the world. Part of the team that migrated 15,000 Notes mail files to Outlook using Binary Tree’s CMT for Exchange, CMT Coexistence and CMT for Blackberry. Contacts, mail and calendar entries were migrated. Encrypted emails were decrypted. Customised CMT for Exchange to provide: additional reporting; verification of the import lists prior to importing into CMTe; reporting on the existing data. Audited all mail files, sent out all communications, created replicas on the staging servers, coordinated the latest changes to the Master List and updated contacts, mail and calendar entries so that they were acceptable to Exchange
At MasterCard and at URS the critical piece seems to be the "list". Both companies exported the Domino Directory to Excel and handled the scheduling in Excel. Parts of the list were prepared for importing into CMTe. Necessarily the "list' was out of date as soon as it was prepared. Employees would leave the company and there were new hires and the list was constantly being updated. People want to be scheduled for a different week. Inevitably people were duplicated and scheduled to be migrated twice.
All of the products that I have worked with require good Lotus skills and good Microsoft skills. The possibility of finding one person that embodies both is extremely rare (and costly). To put this an other way. If I were looking for a Ford mechanic. I would think to myself "there are several Ford dealerships in my town, shouldn't be too hard". Now if I want a Mercedes mechanic. I'd say to myself "this could be a little bit harder, but there is one Mercedes dealership in my town". But if I am looking for an experienced Ford AND Mercedes mechanic, that is like looking for a needle in a haystack. My thoughts on an approach to solving this dilemma.
It is unusual to find one person with both sets of skills. Microsoft specialists think that they can easily gain enough skills to get at the Lotus data. Then they hit on Lotus encryption when migrating mail and applications. Reader names fields and author names fields add some more challenges to the mix. There is a large insurance company in Canada that switched their Lotus Notes Mail to Outlook/Exchange. Lacking the Notes skills, they could not move the email or contacts from Notes. Everyone in the company was given a empty Outlook mail file and had to start from scratch. Retyping all of their contacts must have cost the company a great deal time. Even though they had moved to Outlook a year earlier, on an average day 300 - 400 people were opening their mail files on the Domino servers.
Fundamental differences between Lotus Notes / Domino and Microsoft.
It has been an interesting experience meeting with Product Managers from Microsoft. We understand very little about each other's technologies. Frequently, I will hear a number of inaccuracies when describing Notes. Like wise, I am not as familiar as I should be with Microsoft's suite of products.
The common conception is that Lotus Notes / Domino is the equivalent to Outlook / Exchange. From a functional point of view this is correct, but the underlying architecture is considerably different. Lotus Notes / Domino is an application development environment which includes an email/calendaring/scheduling application.
Lotus Notes / Domino includes some other functionality which is not normally associated Outlook / Exchange.
- The Domino Server provides Directory services for the email. Microsoft requires Active Directory. If Active Directory is available Notes / Domino can utilise it.
- The Domino Server provides Database services for all of the Notes / Domino applications. Microsoft has SQL to provide Database services.
- The Domino Server provides HTTP services to the browser client. Users can access their mail client from the web as well as the other applications that are written in Notes / Domino.
- The Domino Server provides encrypted IM (Instant Messaging) services.
- The Domino Server provides field level replication across all copies of the application.
Notes Mail to Outlook / Exchange
Since the vast majority of companies do not make changes to the code in their email design, the migration from Notes to Outlook / Exchange is pretty painless. The applications that migrate from Lotus to Microsoft know the source fields and the destination fields. There are known wrinkles between recurring appointments. I frequently hear that the Outlook users are required to manually recreate repeating appointments.
Given that both email programs are functionally the same. This is a low risk. If the mail code is changed (I did say that it was trivial) then all bets are off. Some companies have made major changes to the mail/calendaring/scheduling.
The migration of the Lotus Notes Personal Address Books to Outlook's Contacts is a very interesting challenge. The contact information is stored on the user's local drive (or a network drive) and the migration software running on an other computer can't see the user's local drive. There are three different ways to move this information into Outlook. Each has it's pros and cons.
At MasterCard and at URS the critical piece seems to be the "list". Both companies exported the Domino Directory to Excel and handled the scheduling in Excel. Parts of the list were prepared for importing into CMTe. Necessarily the "list' was out of date as soon as it was prepared. Employees would leave the company and CMTe would reject them if they were not in the Domino Directory. There were new hires and the list was constantly being updated. People want to be scheduled for a different week. Inevitably people were duplicated and scheduled to be migrated twice.
I have developed a number of reporting tools to check the List before it is imported into CMTe. It identifies users who are no longer listed in the Domino Directory and people who have already been migrated. Since each installation of CMTe is different, this code needs to be updated for each company. As the project winds down, we need to identify the active users and make sure that they are included in CMTe.
Since both companies are worldwide in nature, they both chose to make local replica copies of the mail files. The link between North America and Dubai is not necessarily the quickest. Prior to starting the migration we want to make sure that the replica and production mail files are current. I've written a program that makes this check prior to the start of migration.
Notes Mail and Outlook / Exchange Coexistence
In all but the smallest migrations, there will be a period of coexistence while some user are on one email system and some are on the other. The Exxon - Mobile merger wasn't completed in a weekend. How much fidelity is required between the two mail systems - reading each other's calendars and scheduling meetings across two systems?
There are several solutions in the marketplace to enable coexistence. The product from Microsoft works adequately, but there is some loss of fidelity. The has left the market open for pair of commercial products which overcome some the shortcomings.
Now that I have completed two set-ups for coexistence, I can definitely say that it is not for the feint of heart. There are so many moving pieces. Once it is finally configured and tested, it is so much fun to watch. Directory Sync - keeping both AD and the Domino Directory in sync. Then the Mail Connector has to watch all of the mail moving between each system. There are parts of mail messages that work in one system and not the other. The Mail Connector has to take action on these message. Both systems manage meetings very differently and the connector has to manage this. Rooms and resources can be hosted on both systems. When a user goes to schedule a meeting he does not care what system the user/room/resource is on. This has to be transparent, but it warms my heart when I see it happen.
Notes Applications - based on standard templates
There are 39 "templates" that ship with Lotus Notes. These templates contain the code used to create the applications. Microsoft identifies some of these as Quadrant One and Two Applications. In the same way that it is "easy" to move Notes mail, these standard applications "should" be easy to move but once you get looking under the covers, there are some interesting "challenges".
Some of these applications include Discussion, Team Room and Change Control. In virtually every project that I have worked on, I have created a Discussion. It should be easy to migrate data from a standard template to Microsoft. However, also be advised, that few people were using the Discussion template unaltered, partly because the web side was not very attractive, and partly because there were serious rendering issues with the web editor.
Custom Developed Notes Applications
One of the reasons for the initial success of Lotus Notes, was the ease with which just about anyone could create a Notes application or take a template and make modifications to the base template.
Over the past eight years, I have been maintaining Lotus Notes applications for a company that "got rid of Notes" ten years ago. They can't shut down the Domino servers because there are applications which collect information which is required by federal agencies.
Notes Migrator for SharePoint - Quest Software
A year ago, I did a proof of concept for a Pharmaceutical company. They had a number of Lotus Notes databases and they wanted to retire their Domino servers. There was a great deal of historic data in the Notes databases and they needed to keep the information for the FDA and Health Canada. In my lab, I took the databases and migrated them to SharePoint. They gave me a purchase order to do the migration in the production environment. Unfortunately, there were technical issues at their end and I never to do the migration.
However, I was introduced to a remarkable product and became a fan. In May, 2010 Quest Software was offering a Partner Certification Training for Notes Migrator for SharePoint, in Aliso Viejo, California. Since I was on the bench at the time. I flew out to take the four day course. The course culminated with a one hour on-line exam and a three hour practical exam. What a remarkable product!
Migrating to SharePoint
Migrating to Exchange
- Don't get stuck in the rut - you can migrate Notes data, to SQL, Word documents, PDFs - this list is quite extensive. Keep an open mind.
- Complete an inventory of the Notes Applications as soon as possible. This inventory will let you know which applications are currently in use and identify the applications that are no longer in use. We may only have to migrate the data and not reproduce the functionality. The inventory will also flag the complexity of the applications.
- The person who is running the Inventory needs to have access to ALL applications. Otherwise, you will only have a partial listing.
- Turn on Licence Tracking on the Domino Server. Over a period of a month, you will find who is actively using the Domino applications and what client are they using.
John's thoughts on the different roles in an email migration.
- Understand your environment
Identify which mail files contain encrypted emails - don't assume that there are none. It is so easy for a user to encrypt.
Identify the inactive mail files - no point in migrating dead mail.
Identify the shared mail files - the ones that several people use.
Identify which Notes applications are linked to in email.
Identify how many mail files contain DocLinks and Hotspots
Identify which mail files have delegates - these need special handling.
Identify the orphaned mail files
- Your new Exchange environment is going to be severely tested. The AD server will have to respond quickly to creation of mail boxes. The load balancing are going to get hit with GB's of data leaving the Notes environment and headed to the Exchange server. Your Exchange servers are going to receive GB's data in a short period of time. If they survive the migration, they will handle normal emails without even a hiccup.
- Your Exchange servers need to be able to handle mail files of up to 20 GB. You will want to pay particular attention to mail files that are over 2 GB.
- Users will a large number (1 K) calendar entries are going to take a long time to update the BlackBerries - hours
- Do not set everyone to cache mode. Your network is going to feel the affects when an entire office all come in the morning and start using Outlook at the same time. I have seen the network connection so busy that normal work could not take place. Gradually set the users to cache mode.
- Migrate your technical contacts at each site first. They can get familiar with Outlook. Since they will still have their Notes Client they can function in both worlds. It is not fair to your support people, to migrate them the same day as the users that they support.
- Migrate the Administrative Assistants a couple of days before the people they support. They are usually the first line of tech support for their boss.
- Be wary of customised mail templates. Test and test and then test again.
- Users can become frustrated when they first start to use Outlook. They have to learn a new paradigm. Users who are used to having one email appear in multiple folder, with discover that Exchange can only have an email in one folder. So they have difficulty finding their emails. Give them a common dominator. Notes has an All Documents View - we can create an All Documents filter in Outlook and they will be much happier. I was. For instructions look HERE
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If you would like any additional information, please send me an email
In 1995, IBM acquired Lotus. For several years we were left alone and the culture did not change. It was a lot of fun to work for Lotus. In 1999 the handwriting was on the wall and I decided it was time for me to leave. So I established V&M to do Lotus Notes/Domino Application Development, System Administration and Training. I've been at it ever since. The life of the consultant is constantly changing. It has given me the chance to travel across Canada and the United States, Scotland, England, Bermuda, Jamaica, Barbados and Hawaii. No travel to the Far East yet. Anyone?
For the last seven years I have been helping companies move their data from Lotus Notes to the Microsoft platform.
Some thoughts on Notes to Exchange Migrations
Migrating from Lotus Notes to Microsoft - Very easy and very hard
Pre- Migration Report that I use
Encrypted Mail Choices
Export a Notes View to CSV
Mail Migrations Using the Cloud
Mail Migrations - Some Lessons Learned
Speeding Some Migrations
Redirecting Mail Migration Traffic
One post migration story
One Approach to Mail Rules
Remove Encryption Button
Microsoft's "Secret" Mail Migration Tool
NME Migrations from a secondary Domino Directory
How to remove encryption from a Notes database
NME and Secondary Address Book
Multi File Selector for Binary Tree CMTe
Problem Mail Files for NME (Notes Migrator for Exchange)
Using a Staging Server for Notes to Exchange migrations
SmartCloud to Office 365
Notes2SharePoint Part 1
Migrating Private Folders
Different roles in an email migrations
What to do with Profile Docs during a Migration
If you would like to see my resume Click Here
Copyright 1999-2019, John Vanderhoff. All rights reserved. This document is NOT in the public domain and remains the property of John Vanderhoff. Distribution or modification of this document without the knowledge, review and express permission of John Vanderhoff is strictly prohibited.