“This Exchange migration project was really critical to us, and it turned out to be one of the most successful IT projects we’ve had."
- Osama Abushaban, Head of ICT/IT, United Al Saqer Group
Al Saqer Group had used a Lotus Notes and domino messaging environment for many years. However, the costs of annual licenses and maintenance for this environment, as well as poor support from third-party vendors, were becoming an increasing concern. Additionally, it was becoming difficult to integrate new applications because Lotus Notes was not supported by many of the application vendors.
Given these challenges, the Al Saqer Group decided to migrate to a Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SharePoint environment. The first migration project would transition the messaging system from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Outlook for nearly 600 users in 16 sites.
Osama Abushaban, head of ICT/IT for United Al Saqer Group, knew that outsourcing the migration activity would be essential for the project’s success.
“As an IT person, you may do this kind of project only once during your career in an organization,” said Abushaban. “Because the messaging system migration could greatly disrupt our everyday operations, we didn’t want to take the risk of not knowing the best migration processes and tools.”
Partnering for a Successful Migration
Al Saqer Group chose InnoKAT, a Binary Tree Premier Partner and Microsoft Gold Partner, to conduct the messaging migration project. The quality of the technical proposal presented by InnoKAT, the recommendation to use the Binary Tree migration solution, and a positive experience on previous projects for Al Saqer Group were factors in this selection.
InnoKAT used the Binary Tree Notes Migrator CMT solution to perform the actual migration of user accounts, email messages, contact lists, and calendar entries from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Outlook.
The migration activity was largely trouble-free, with only one problem in moving a few user mailboxes that was resolved by reconnecting a physical server. “Using Binary Tree Notes Migrator CMT was one of the reasons that we finished such a critical migration without any major issues,” said Khaliq Rehman, Project Manager for InnoKAT.
Migration activity was also considered a success by the Al Saqer team. “Because we hadn’t gone through this kind of migration before, I was concerned that we would experience big issues,” said Abushaban. “But 95 percent of the migration process went according to plan, which meant it didn’t have an impact on our users.”
A Simpler Experience for Users
Abushaban’s team chose to migrate a small number of users each day in order to provide individual training and support. “We were concerned that the change to Outlook would have a big impact on our corporate culture because we had used Lotus Notes for so long. But we found that many of our employees were already familiar with Outlook, which eliminated the time we previously had to spend training new employees on how to use Lotus Notes,” said abushaban.
Users like the option of accessing their email through a web browser, a feature that was not available for their Lotus Notes accounts. and by using Microsoft active directory, the It team has created a single sign-on for both email and applications, which also simplifies user access.
From the perspective of both business and user impact, “This project was really critical to us, and it turned out to be one of the most successful IT projects we’ve had,” said Abushaban.
A Foundation for New Applications
For the future, Abushaban notes that, “Migrating to Microsoft Exchange for messaging gives us the foundation for moving forward on several collaboration projects on our IT roadmap.” These projects include integration with IP telephony systems, human resources and payroll systems, a customer relationship management (CRM) system, and a dealership management system.