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Replacing Lotus Notes? Here's How It Really Goes Down

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Replacing Lotus Notes? Here's How It Really Goes Down

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A look at what really happens when an organizations migrates from IBM Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange.

I first posted this because I was tired of seeing the pattern time after time and the participants denying what was happening.

A look at what really happens when an organizations migrates from IBM Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange.

I first posted this because I was tired of seeing the pattern time after time and the participants denying what was happening.

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Replacing Lotus Notes? Here's How It Really Goes Down

  1. 1. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Replacing Lotus Notes? Here’s How It Really Goes Down
  2. 2. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. In The Beginning In the beginning there was Microsoft. Microsoft looked down and said “let there be mail”. And so it came to pass that Outlook and Exchange soon spread across the land like a virus. There was much money to be made by convincing others to migrate to this platform and forsake all others.
  3. 3. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. And So It Begins.... The Microsoft salesman arrives on your doorstep telling you how you don't want to be the last company on the planet using Lotus Notes. He/she may also have a cure for baldness and a bridge in Brooklyn going for a song.
  4. 4. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Oh The Lies The migration will be easy they say. They have ALL the tools needed to handle the migration. It will only take a matter of weeks and the cost will be minimal. The decision is a slam dunk.... Or so it seems!
  5. 5. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Closed Meetings The discussions that take place next are always held in closed meetings in which outdated facts and misleading information is presented. Informed professionals (aka dissenting voices) are kept at a safe distance to ensure a quick sell.
  6. 6. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Phase 1: Replacing Notes Mail
  7. 7. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Domino Administrators Domino Administrators aren't always consulted before the "decision" has been made but they usually have sufficient connections to ensure their needs are factored into any migration plan that is subsequently developed.
  8. 8. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Training Often the first thing that happens after that "decision' has been made is for the Domino Administrators to be sent off on training courses to learn about Exchange and plan for the migration.
  9. 9. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. More Hardware Truckloads of additional hardware are ordered and the process is started to replace Domino servers with new Exchange servers. For some reason more servers are needed than originally budgeted.
  10. 10. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Mail Users Migrated Notes mail users are migrated to Outlook. In many cases users are offered little, if any, end-user training. Productivity levels fall dramatically during the transition period as people live with increased downtime, increased technical issues, and the need to get up to speed with the new mail client. (don't bother looking for those costs in the original proposal)
  11. 11. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Migration Issues The migrations will almost always take longer than planned due to some unforeseen migration issues. It is never clear why they are “unforeseen” given they almost always occur. I guess the sale to the unsuspecting CIO always needs to based on all those "unforeseen" issues not being costed into the original proposal!
  12. 12. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Two Mail Systems Complications are likely to be encountered moving from a Notes mail system in which each user has their own mail file to a single Exchange mail store. In many cases the Domino administrators will decide to leave the existing mail where it is. Only new mail is to be handled by Exchange. Needless to say, users will not be impressed with now having two mail systems to search.
  13. 13. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Desktop Support Desktop support teams are placed under enormous stress to assist with the migrations and handle the large increase in support calls. Now instead of hearing from people why feature "A" or "B" in Outlook is not available in Lotus Notes, desktop support people have to explain why feature "D" or "E" or "F" or "G” or .... that they had just yesterday with IBM Notes is not available in Outlook. The grass is always greener on the OTHER side of the hill!
  14. 14. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. A Project Out Of Control The migration project now falls well behind budget in terms of the elapsed time, resources required, and the total project cost. The good news is the consultant is more than happy to increase their billing hours.
  15. 15. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. IT Sucks The whole of IT gets a bad name because of the project. We can't say whether Notes sucks or Outlook sucks or SharePoint sucks so everyone just shouts “IT Sucks”.
  16. 16. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Phase 2: Replacing Notes Applications
  17. 17. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Notes Developers Notes developers typically do not find out about the change until after it has been announced. They are unlikely to have been consulted about the effort involved in migrating applications. In some cases organizations may not have considered the cost of application migration at all. The consultant will possibly have it in the fine print of the proposal. If they do, they are unlikely to have costed it out. If they have, there is next to no chance that the migrations can be done with the budget allocated.
  18. 18. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Fail... Please In many cases the consultants want to make the existing development team fail so they can come in and make a truck-load of money for themselves fixing the mess that the development teams will now be blamed for creating. So be careful!
  19. 19. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Sorry, No Funding! Because the Mail migration has fallen behind budget there is little chance developers will be sent on training classes to learn how to use the proposed "new" technology (usually ASP.Net or SharePoint). They have to learn as best they can. If it’s ASP.Net you have a chance. If it's SharePoint.... Well, then good luck!
  20. 20. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. How Do I Test All This? Many organizations will discover that most of their Notes applications contain little or no documentation. The chances are low that formal test plans will exist, making it quite a challenge to develop a test plan that ensures migrated applications continue to perform the same way they always have. Testing will be critical as the data migration will most likely require a one-off cut-over to the new application.
  21. 21. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. The Slow Migration Applications will slowly be migrated from Notes/Domino to a new platform. The applications will be slow and costly to migrate. The new applications will rarely work as well as the old ones. This will irk your users no end. This aspect of the project will ALWAYS be down-played by the consultants when the proposal is made.
  22. 22. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. It's Not My Fault By now the CIO will just wish the entire project will go away and a lot of political pressure will be brought to bear to quieten the issues that continue to exist. It quickly becomes the project no- one wants to work on. The smart people have either transferred to other projects or found a job with another company. The project manager almost always transfers at some stage during the project so that it is never clear who was at fault.
  23. 23. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. But Still Notes Persists At some point in time it will be decided that enough money has been wasted invested and the remaining Notes applications will be allowed to remain until such time as they are replaced with "strategic" solutions. It is never intended, but this usually means Notes applications remain for many years. So the Notes client remains on workstations, and supported, for a whole lot longer than planned/costed.
  24. 24. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Wallpaper The Black Holes The development teams that previously supported Notes will be folded into existing teams or a restructure will take place in an attempt to wallpaper over the massive holes that remain. The concept of a team of people doing "Rapid Application Development" will almost certainly disappear. Nobody really cares as the Notes development team was probably always a square peg in a round hole that was never well understood. Besides, they just made the other development teams look "slow".
  25. 25. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. A New Solution Needed End Users will look for something else they can use to build their own solutions. Many will be looking out for the next "Lotus Notes" to appear because it sure aint SharePoint.
  26. 26. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. The Consultant Disappears At some time around now the consultant disappears into the distance to count all the cash they have acquired from their latest victim engagement.... If they are lucky they will have convinced the CIO that all the issues encountered were the direct result of a lack of support from key people in the project. The Blame game will be pointed at those that were saying "this is a stupid idea” or the failure to give all the work to the consultants from the very beginning.
  27. 27. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. What You Will Not See
  28. 28. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. You Will Not See Any analysis of the project to establish the true total cost of the project and the ROI it achieved. If such a document exists the CIO will lock it away in his/her top draw.
  29. 29. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. You Will Not See The consultant learning from all the problems encountered and factoring that into the proposal of their next victim client.
  30. 30. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. You Will Not See The consultant admitting that they may not have disclosed all the likely issues to be overcome.
  31. 31. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. You Will Not See The consultant admitting they may have oversold what SharePoint's capabilities really are.
  32. 32. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. You Will Not See Any reduction in the cost of operating mail in the organization. It will probably have increased (even without adding the costs of the migration!).
  33. 33. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. You Will Not See The victim company suddenly being able to do things with their e- mail client they were not already doing with Lotus Notes Mail. Mail after all has now become a commodity item.
  34. 34. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. You Will Not See A case study where a company: • Successfully migrated away from Lotus Notes 100%. • The project came in on time, under budget • It delivered a significant lowering of the costs for operating messaging • Provided an even faster (lower cost) service for rapid application development. But you can bet the consultant probably promised all those things when the project started!
  35. 35. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. What You Will See Microsoft now has its hooks in yet another company that is locked into its proprietary stack of products for quite some time. But for some it is not too late….
  36. 36. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. What You May Hear (comments posted on social media related to an article about a migration project at Qantas) I have two companies whom were migrated to Exch/SP. The environment is about 25-30% bigger. They have operational problems and user issues. They lost some applications, migrated apps have less functionality. SP has performance problems. Lot of money was spent over the first price. These "it's progressing but it's taking longer than we planned" (aka "our migration to exchange and the MS stack is stuck half way and we're truly buggered") projects are more common than Seinfeld re-runs. Have been dealing with a lot of companies that thought a Microsoft migration would be as easy as Microsoft/MS partners tell them. Not a single one of the companies I´ve been working with over the last 11 years in Notes/Domino EVER completed the migration. The nation’s largest airline Qantas has revealed that it’s still in the process of migrating its corporate email platform off IBM’s Lotus Notes/Domino platform and onto Microsoft’s Outlook/Exchange system, with the rollout now into its fourth year. Add to the list just about every large Notes migration done in Australia, Defence probably has the record, they still use heaps of Domino. But add Caltex, DFAT, Centrelink, Westpac, etc. All in the same boat. All spent a ton of money swapping email and then keeping what they had. BTW You should ask AMP where they’re up to as well in their migration… they started in 2010
  37. 37. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. A New Approach is Needed
  38. 38. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. What Should I Do? Start by identifying what your customers want, rather than what they don’t want (The Notes client) Don’t skate to where the hockey puck is, but where it is anticipated to be when you get there. Differentiate between mail and applications. Notes is both… Outlook isn’t.
  39. 39. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. Extend Rather Than Replace Your existing IBM Notes applications have probably served your company well over a great many years. Don’t under-estimate their numbers and the total cost to replace them. Look for solutions that fill the expectation gap without the need to replace what you already have.
  40. 40. www.redpilldevelopment.comlearn. do. dream. The World Is Going Mobile Within a few years there will be more mobile devices on this planet than people. This is where the hockey puck is likely to be in a few years time. Imagine the delight of your users if they came to work one day to find all the content stored within their Notes applications was now readily available to them on mobile devices. Was that a gleam in their eye and a smile on their faces. They didn’t hate those Notes applications after all. They just didn’t like the way they were being packaged.

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