Discovery Communications Busts the Myth on Moving from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Outlook 


“The migration accuracy exceeded our expectations as we had no significant data loss issues. Binary Tree software enabled the migration of all historical mail, contacts, calendars and allowed for a seamless move.”

— David Duvall, VP Global Infrastructure Services, Discovery Communications


Corporate Overview and Background

Discovery Communications is the world’s #1 nonfiction media company reaching more than 1.8+ billion cumulative subscribers in more than 220 countries and territories. Discovery Communications is dedicated to satisfying curiosity through 155 worldwide television networks, led by Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Science and Investigation Discovery, as well as US joint venture networks; OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, The Hub and 3net, the first 24-hour 3D network.

Headquartered in Silver Spring, MD, Discovery Communications operates more than 50 offices around the world including US, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific. Discovery Communications’ employees rely on their messaging solution for daily email communications and to help them efficiently launch new brands and quickly expand into new markets.

The Business Challenges of their Legacy Lotus Messaging System

Discovery’s existing Lotus Notes and Domino platform was not keeping up with the increasing demands of its users. The Lotus environment was not virtual and was dispersed across the globe, which made it difficult to manage. The IT department was receiving repeated complaints about Lotus Notes and was experiencing training issues when onboarding new employees. Additionally, Discovery Communication’s management wanted to leverage their existing Microsoft licensing as well as provide a more stable, robust and feature-rich messaging platform to its users by migrating to Microsoft Exchange.

The Decision to Migrate to Microsoft

In 2011, the management team decided to migrate their 5,500 users and roughly 7,000 mailboxes from their legacy Lotus Notes and Domino system to Microsoft Outlook and Exchange 2010 for the enhanced functionality and benefits that the Microsoft platform provided.

Discover leveraged our SMART Methodology to establish and define key success metrics for the migration initiative:

  • The new Microsoft Exchange environment had to be 100% virtual.
  • All mail services had to be centralized into three regional hub sites versus the global disparate infrastructure currently presented within their Lotus environment. 
  • Accurately and efficiently migrate all of the user email, calendar and contacts within a 10-week timeline.
  • Guarantee 100% uptime while enabling their users to effectively communicate with each other during the migration.
  • Provide long-term coexistence for legacy Notes and Domino applications and databases that would continue to send actionable emails to Outlook users after the migration to Exchange.

“The scalability of the Binary Tree software certainly helped us to do a "fast" migration. I would estimate the product easily saved us hundreds of hours of effort compared to other products in the space.”

- Katherine Bargas, Lead Exchange Architect, Discovery Communications


Preparing for the Transition

The IT team kicked off the project by performing an assessment of their messaging infrastructure and mailbox content. According to Discovery’s vice president of infrastructure services, David Duvall, “We ran an analysis on our mailboxes to look for problematic content such as meeting recurrence patterns that are handled differently by the two diverse platforms. This analysis helped to shape the communications to our users leading up to their individual migration.”

To augment their internal staff and assist with the project, Discovery brought in AffinityIT, an IT services and solutions provider versed in Binary Tree’s SMART Methodology principles. AffinityIT helped Discovery evaluate software products for establishing coexistence and migrating mailboxes between the diverse Domino and Exchange environments. Based on AffinityIT’s recommendation, Discovery chose Binary Tree’s CMT for Coexistence and CMT for Exchange software to automate the transition.

Discovery’s lead Exchange architect, Katherine Bargas, stated, “We needed a solution that would not only perform the mailbox conversions but also provide coexistence long-term for legacy Notes and Domino databases that would continue to send emails post-migration.”

Discovery considered software from another source but Bargas said, “Binary Tree Coexistence features were more comprehensive. The scalability of the migration workstations was also a factor as we wanted to migrate 250 or more mailboxes per night.”

A Seamless Move

 After conducting the analysis of their infrastructure and mailbox content, Discovery deployed CMT for Exchange to implement the migration and CMT for Coexistence to ensure that all employees would be able to communicate seamlessly across platforms during the transition to Exchange and beyond.

The migration project met Discovery’s aggressive timeline objectives and the migration was implemented over the course of the 10 weeks they defined. AffinityIT provided technical resources to augment Discovery’s IT team to run the overnight migration phases using Binary Tree’s award winning software. The average size of the mailboxes was 600MB, but some were as large as 6GB. In total, approximately 4TB of mail data was migrated.

Duvall says, “The automated migration of all legacy mail, contacts, and calendars allowed for a seamless transition to our new Microsoft Exchange environment. Our migration went so smoothly that our users were productive throughout. One day they left the office Notes users, and literally became Outlook users overnight.”

The Benefits and Results  

“The new Exchange environment reduced end user training and resulted in higher employee satisfaction. Our users and management commented it was one of the largest and smoothest projects they have seen IT undertake."

- Beth Charters, VP Global Relationship Management, Discovery Communications

Discovery’s new Exchange environment is 100 percent virtual and centralized into three regional hub sites, eliminating the global sprawl of the legacy Domino/Notes environment.

While some Notes applications are still operational, Duvall stated, “Binary Tree’s CMT for Coexistence continues to operate well in our environment today to enable our Outlook users to interact with emails from Lotus Notes databases until those applications are retired.”

The transition to Microsoft’s messaging platform has won rave reviews from Discovery’s user community and management. Beth Charters, Discovery’s vice president of global relationship management, commented, “The new Exchange environment reduced end user training and resulted in higher employee satisfaction. Our users and management commented it was one of the largest and smoothest projects they have seen IT undertake.”

Asked what words best summarized their experience with Binary Tree, Duvall simply responded: “Coexistence, Migration, and Success.”


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