Lessons from the Field: The Importance of High-Fidelity Inspections

So you’re planning or know someone who is planning an email and/or application migration? Do you have questions? Is someone asking questions that you don’t have answers to? Do you want to know what’s really in your environment? Is it time to budget? If any of these questions sound familiar to you, then sit back and let me tell you a little story of my own experience.
 
Off on the Wrong Foot
 
Several years ago, I was working as an IT Manager for a mid-size manufacturer that was a long-standing Lotus Notes shop.  One day our new CIO - a staunch supporter of the Microsoft platform - called me into his office and asked me a simple question:  


“John, how many Notes Applications and Messaging users do we have today and how complex is the environment?  

I was completely baffled. No one had ever asked me that question before and I was at a complete loss for an answer. So, in my perplexity and search to find an answer, I grabbed the Lotus Notes Administrator. He smiled at me and said: 
 
“It’s pretty complex, John, and a great deal of the applications are customized. Also, the users own their own applications, so we don’t typically manage them unless we’re asked to. As for the mail, I would say we have a few hundred users, but I’m not really sure how many actual mailboxes we have. Let me run some numbers and get back to you...”. 
 
Three weeks and eight spreadsheets later, the Lotus Notes Administrator finally presented me with what I thought were the answers to the CIO’s questions. After all, we meticulously and manually combed through EVERY server gathering as many details as we could from the administrative console. We even went as far as opening up a few of the applications to find their size and owner.
 
Reality Check
 
Triumphantly and with spreadsheets in hand, I walked into the CIO’s office and exclaim, “I finally have the answers you’re looking for!” With a very serious look on his face he said: 
 
“John …why did it take us SO long to get answers to such simple questions?  Shouldn’t this information be quick and easy to retrieve? This is the IT Department …it’s critical for us to know how many Notes Applications and Messaging users we have, and have a full understanding the complexity of our environment. In order for us to be successful, we need to have this information updated consistently and readily available. This has me VERY concerned …”.
               Cartoon of office worker carrying stack of papers    
He was right. Having accurate, trustworthy, and consistent data on the state of our environment was critical to maintain and grow the environment. But, once again, I was unable to answer his questions, and the last thing I wanted to do was show him the spreadsheets because we weren’t 100% confident that they were accurate and complete.
 
Migration Orders
 
Shortly after my humbling interaction with the CIO, he called the IT Team into his office and made the following announcement:
 
“We are migrating off of Lotus Notes. I need you to figure out what it will take to migrate our applications to SharePoint or .NET, and I need you to find a way to migrate Lotus Notes to Exchange. I’ll need a project plan and budget by the end of next week. This is crucial to the company’s overall IT strategy and I’m counting on you to execute.”
 
The Predicament

At first glance, we assumed an inventory was all we’d need to get this done, but then we started asking the tough questions that we couldn’t answer on our own. 
  • Do we have a truly accurate inventory of the applications in our environment?
  • Do we know who owns or uses the applications?
  • How often and what are these applications used for?
  • Is there any integration with other systems?
  • Can we even move this to SharePoint?
  • What’s the level of effort?
  • How many and how large are the mailboxes?
  • Do we have any “legacy” applications we could just retire?
  • How much will it cost me to migrate these applications?
  • What’s the recommended migration path for these applications based on their existing complexity?
How would we get the answers to our questions? Who would guide us through this migration?
 
We had so many critical questions and concerns that were holding us back from executing the project. We spent days sending emails back-and-forth, most of the time getting answers back that led to even more questions. This viscous and uneventful cycle not only stalled the migration, but also had a significant impact on the team’s morale. We needed answers and we needed them fast.
 
Salvation in the Form of a Tool

I’d like to tell you this ended well …that we found the Binary Tree CMT Inspector product and were able to retrieve the data we needed to be successful. In truth, we went with our “best guess” and ended up spending 3x the original budget, not to mention all of the late nights and weekends spent at the office. (Finally) after the project was complete, we all agreed that having a tool to help us with the pre-project assessment and in depth application and mail environment analysis would have saved us a tremendous amount of time, as well as a substantial amount of money, but it was all too little, too late. The bottom line is this - we needed a high-fidelity inspection engine, but (and maybe even more importantly) we also needed a proven migration methodology and expertise that we simply did not have in our organization.

Now, several years (and thousands of migrations) later, I spend a significant amount of time with Binary Tree customers and partners discussing and demonstrating our CMT Inspector software. As a Product Design Engineer, I take my experiences and the experiences of my colleagues and leverage them in the CMT Inspector design to ensure our customers and partners are successful. CMT Inspector is a critical piece of Binary Tree’s Application Transformation Framework and can save organizations from the fate that my project suffered by giving them the critical information they desperately need to accurately inventory, analyze, and plan their platform migration.
             CMT Inspector Dashboard
CMT Inspector provides an automated, high-fidelity inspection and analysis engine which answers the critical questions that customer have about their environment, and helps them accurately plan migrations for application and messaging platforms from Lotus Notes to the Microsoft platform. CMT Inspector is a flexible and scalable solution for analyzing your Lotus Notes application and messaging environment, and provides automated reporting via SQL Reporting Services to help you quickly and accurately answer the questions that will determine the success or failure of your migration project. 
 
Take it from someone in the field who appreciates that knowledge is power and check out Binary Tree’s CMT Inspector product. The software is developed to provide you with the knowledge you need to be successful throughout the life of your migration project. After all, it’s 17 years of migration experience in a box. Shouldn’t you have the tools you need to be successful?
 
To learn more about how CMT Inspector can help with your platform migration, please go to binarytree.com/Products/Analyze/CMT-Inspector. 
 
- John