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Notes to Exchange migration pitfalls

…and how to avoid them

Hello IT-pros!

I have been migrating mailboxes from Lotus Notes to Exchange and Exchange Online for almost ten years now and in this post I will share some of my notes from the field. In this first post I will share a couple of things that every migration project need to take into account to be able to successfully deliver the change.

1. Keep it simple and do NOT over engineer

A migration is a migration and there is no such thing as a zero impact migration. Period. No matter what you do and what precautions you take the end user will still meet a new email client on “Hot Monday” (the first day after the migration). Ok, in both Notes and in Outlook, the “new mail” button is on the upper left side, but there is differences and you will never be able to work around all of them.

Many customers seems to like the idea of running a slow process with a long coexistence period but that will, in most cases, only make the project more expensive and more painful for the end users. Go simple, let the end users have a little pain, but for a short period and focus on the right things.

Ask your self – If I where an end user, what would be the most important on “Hot Monday”? Is it to have an email client that have the same look and feel as on the day before? If that’s the case, skip the migration. The answer is probably:

– Have a working email client and a backup client (OWA) just in case
– Have the most recent data in you mailbox, including your contacts and calendar
– To be able to send and receive email
– Have access to your shared mailboxes
– Have an updated Global Address List
– Have a small, printed guide on how the new email client works

So, focus on the above and do not over engineer!

2. Set the correct expectation

This bullet is actually tied to the above, but it is worth stressing it separately. When setting up the project, always start low and then negotiate with the project leadership.

A good rule is “95+95” which means that 95% of the users should have 95% of the data perfectly migrated when they start on “Hot Monday” to call the project successful. By setting that expectation the customer will save a lot of money because the expensive part is the last small pieces and to work around all possible error and issues that can occur for them. The migration may be twice as expensive just to handle that 5% and – again – you need to ask your self, is that necessary?

But hey, what about that bunch of poor end users that happen to be on the wrong side? The 5% that may lack some emails or maybe have an empty mailbox? Are they left behind for ever? Do we tell them to quit? NO! They will have all the data, but they may have to wait for a couple of hour for it and in the meantime, they can still access their mailbox through Domino, using the Notes client.

A last word on this topic – even though the expectation is set to “95+95” the goal of the project is still 100% and 100% is usually the case, as long as everybody is doing their job!

3. Know your migration tool

When I run my project I always use “Migrator for Notes to Exchange” from Dell Software. This tool was Notes Migrator for Exchange from Quest Software before Dell bought Quest. I use it because it migrates the data with very high fidelity while still maintaining a very high throughput. It is also quite inexpensive. If you want a demo over Lync – contact me and I will demonstrate it for you.

To successfully run a migration tool you need to know how it works. In deep. Or consult someone that have the deep knowledge. The migration tool do exactly what you tell it to do, so if you give the tool incorrect instruction it will break things.

To sum up

If you stick to your plans, no not over engineer things, set the correct expectation, use a great migration tool and consult someone that knows how to use it and you will be successful in your project!

So just keep it simple until the next post arrives in a couple of days. That post will bring up three other important things to consider for a successful – and inexpensive – migration project.

By Magnus Göransson

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