Thursday, 17 December 2015

The Thinking Behind Lotus Notes to MS Exchange Migration

Let me first start by affirming that this post is in no way intentional to convince you to switch Lotus Notes to Exchange. I very well know that the world is divided into two (equivalent?) camps: one for Microsoft Exchange and the other for IBM Lotus Notes. And it appears that they are constantly battling with each other to prove that their particular platform is much better than the other. You can just Google (or Bing) for “Exchange Server vs. IBM Lotus Notes” and you will be surprised to know some of the interesting facts about these two platforms.

In fact, as an MS Exchange-minded person; let me begin by revealing you some features I like about IBM Notes: it is flexible. In last few years, I have seen some relatively good solutions that were made with (and around) IBM Lotus Notes. As far as my experience goes, there is not much that it won’t let you to modify (or overwrite). It also comes with some useful features like recurring meetings with sporadic dates (a feature that everyone wants to see in MS Outlook!). And in some good way, I like the flexibility and uncomplicatedness of the file structure: each mailbox is a database in its particular right and signified by a single file (nsf) that you can put at anyplace you wish to: including NAS storage.

My main point here is that both platforms have their qualities and unique selling points. Don’t try to compare them: it can’t be done.

Why do people migrate?

I cannot disregard the statistic that during the last few years I have perceived my share of migrations to Microsoft Exchange. Why is that?

As a consultant, you get to hear the roughest stories. Occasionally it look as if that any reasons is good to move away from Lotus Notes: “Cost”, “Interoperability”, “Manageability”, “Following the market”, “the CEO doesn’t like the client” and my favourite “I want my new mail to appear on top”. From the above-mentioned reasons, I consider “Manageability” to be the origin of all evil (from IBM’s point-of-view at least). I don’t know the exact numbers, but the amount of experienced Lotus Notes administrators must have been falling (quickly!)…

All in all, every single migration starts with a motive. There has to be a reason. If you can’t catch a reason to migrate then simply don’t.

In my individual judgment, there are numerous aims why a lot of corporations are switching from Lotus Notes to Exchange Server. First of all, IBM Lotus Notes is not a messaging platform; rather it is an application/development platform that provides mail abilities. And while Lotus Notes does a good job at handling email communication. But MS Exchange (in my opinion) basically handles it better.

Manage the expectations!

There is no doubt that MS Outlook provides a great value to the users, but at the same time you must face the fact that some things are not credible with this email client.

It is always expected to lose some data in migration.  There are always one or more emails that have been residing in the user’s mailbox for many months which are untouched by the user or there might be a chance that those mails are corrupt. Even though, the user no longer remember that mail or mails, but still there is a chance that they will make your life difficult while performing migration. So, you must prepare yourself to face this situation.

Do I discourage migrating to Exchange/Outlook from Lotus Notes? No, not at all! Though it is possible that your efficiency might get hurt during the first couple of weeks once the migration is done completely but we typically see a great escalation later with a lot of pleased faces as a consequence.

To coexist or not?

Definitely not! (Until and unless you are having a convincing plan to do then) Anything other than mail flow among both platforms should be sidestepped at all cost! If you still go for coexistence, you will have to bear huge amount in operating both. And moreover it will create complications. That is somewhat you don’t want to face: adding complication to something that is already complicated.

Most of the time, we only perceive coexistence set up in situations where the old (Lotus Notes) environment remains to live on for a while (maybe waiting for its apps to get transformed into SharePoint, who knows?)


Am I asking you to use a migration tool? Yes. If you are looking for an ‘easy and swift’ method to migrate from one side to the other and want to perform the migration in a right way, I’m quite sure using you a professional tool would be a good option.

Final Words

In this post, I have only scratched the surface of what a migration consist of. I haven’t spoken about all facts nor have I spoken about all the diverse options and tools. But I hope that – for those planing to switch or already have made the choice – this post can throw some insights and inspirational considerations.

Rest assured: I perceive a lot of these migrations come to an happy ending; generally the ones where a lot of time was consumed on examining, scheduling and authenticating… ;-)

Just summon up: migrating from Notes to MS Exchange is more than only changing a system. Try to look at it in a universal way:  it is also about altering your operations, even more important: your conviction.


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