Critical Considerations when Moving from Domino to Office 365 — Part I

The installed base of IBM Lotus Notes/Domino was expected to decline by 10 million users per year between 2011 and 2015.* From what we’ve seen, this exodus is in full swing and one of the prime migration destinations is Microsoft’s cloud service,Office 365.

Unfortunately, cross-platform migrations to the cloud can be very challenging and quite a few of the remaining Notes customers are multi-national enterprises that have complex needs and perhaps a multi-year migration in their future.

For all of you who have been asked to move your company’s messaging platform to Microsoft Exchange in the cloud, we’ve compiled the following tips and considerations to help along the journey. There’s so much to say that we’ve divided this into two postings, so stay tuned for Part II.

Do Not Underestimate This Challenge

Change is never easy, but it’s our job, right? No one would argue the Notes interface is very different than Outlook, but what is often underestimated is how difficult it is to retrain your user community. Just remember: in addition to the technical challenges and support desk retraining you’ll need to anticipate, your users also need to be taught how to perform the same functions they were previously doing in Domino, now in their new Outlook client. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of properly setting user expectations. While there are a lot of new features available to your users, not all Notes features are available in Outlook. For collaboration tools, your users will also need transition training to get the most from their new Exchange-based tools.
 
Carefully Plan Your Workstation Readiness

Before you perform a migration, you need to make sure you have all the correct software versions on your desktops. If you have any older clients, like older versions of Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Windows, Office Communicator or Lync, you should upgrade them first. Also look out for any business-critical customizations that may have been created in Notes because they won’t transfer to Outlook (you may have to buy an add-in or develop customized scripts). For remote devices and laptops, make sure you have your users bring them back into the office at some point to do the refresh; you may also need to swap older machines out for new equipment prior to the migration.

Beware of Directory Remediation Issues

Auditing and remediation of directory issues is a fundamental issue that can bring the best of us to our knees. Most people underestimate the effort involved—until of course, they can’t match their previous directory objects with those in their destination directory. Worse yet, a Domino directory’s behavior is flexible and forgiving, while the rules for Active Directory are entirely different and finite. Working this out is the single most time- and resource-consuming aspect of a migration. Even if you can match 80% of the objects in a large migration, our experience is the remaining 20% makes it nearly impossible to complete the migration. Coexistenceis an all or nothing proposition. You can’t have some people transitioned and still call it a successful, or even workable, migration.
 
Define Your Migration Process

Sounds obvious…right? Migration is the time for flawless execution. Your migration process should be clearly defined, step-by-step, with remediation plans for known potential issues ahead of time. It’s also best to plan your smartphone and archive migrations along with the mailboxes. The key point is: there’s a set-up process and specific steps that every migration requires, but not necessarily in the same order…and they’re not necessarily the same for every customer. We’re working on one planning process now with 24 separate steps – some proprietary, some Binary Tree, and some from the customer. If you understand the process, it’s much easier to analyze where that might break down. In fact, we like to place a big poster on the wall, like in a war room. That way, we can clearly visualize at what point everyone is in the migration process.

Whew! Watch for our next blog post with even more on migration software, coexistence tools, clean up and preparation, testing and support.

* Email Platforms Market Forecast, 2011-2015, Radicati Group, November 2011