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Migrating from Lotus Notes to Microsoft
Very easy and very hard

Author's Background
I am a Notes/Consultant with twenty years of experience (almost exclusively with Lotus Notes / Domino). My first Notes server was version 1.1 and ran on OS/2 1.2. It had 8 MB of RAM and a 300 MB HD. Not much room for the operating system, Notes code and data. Domino wasn't introduced until version 4.5 For a complete history of Notes History of Notes My experience with Notes began when I worked as a Senior Computer Consultant for Price Waterhouse. In 1993, I went to work for Lotus Development Corporation as a Senior Notes / Domino Instructor. I started teaching Application Development and System Administration with Version 3. Helped to develop the course materials for Version 4.x and Release 5.x When LotusScript, Javascript and Java were added to Notes/Domino I started teaching these programming languages.

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?

Projects Completed
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.

Knowledge Required
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.
  1. The Domino Server provides Directory services for the email. Microsoft requires Active Directory. If Active Directory is available Notes / Domino can utilise it.
  2. The Domino Server provides Database services for all of the Notes / Domino applications. Microsoft has SQL to provide Database services.
  3. 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.
  4. The Domino Server provides encrypted IM (Instant Messaging) services.
  5. 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!

Lessons Learned
Migrating to SharePoint Migrating to Exchange
John's thoughts on the different roles in an email migration.

Author's Background
I am a Notes/Consultant with twenty five years of experience (almost exclusively with Lotus Notes / Domino). My experience with Notes began when I worked as a Senior Computer Consultant for Price Waterhouse. In 1993, I went to work for Lotus Development Corporation as a Senior Notes / Domino Instructor. I started teaching Application Development and System Administration with Version 3. Helped to develop the course materials for Version 4.x and Release 5.x When LotusScript, Javascript and Java were added to Notes/Domino I started teaching these programming languages.

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 six 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
Different roles in an email migrations
What to do with Profile Docs during a Migration
One Approach to Mail Rules
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
Remove Encryption Button
SmartCloud to Office 365

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Copyright 1999-2014, 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.