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4 Common Migration Problems

In the modern workplace, we take the ability to share documents and other information online for granted. However, until the 1990s, things were very different. Company data was stored on paper, in filing cabinets, and all communication took place via telephone or personal meeting. That is, of course, until applications like IBM’s Lotus Notes entered the picture. Lotus Notes is a workgroup application that enabled members to share information online, and it was popular for email as well. However, in the last few years, Microsoft’s Exchange and SharePoint applications have burst onto the scene, and many organisations are now migrating, converting NSF to PST — NSF being the file type for Notes databases and PST the equivalent for Exchange and SharePoint.

Why migrate to Exchange and SharePoint?

The Microsoft solutions work to integrate collaborative messaging tools and voice communications with an intuitive and easy-to-manage interface. Exchange, which has been used by some businesses for quite a while, is a server that offers email, calendars, contacts and voicemail for a more unified whole. Meanwhile, SharePoint is a relatively new platform for developing applications.

Some of the reasons organisations are migrating from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint include:

  • The Microsoft solutions have a richer feature set.
  • Executives have used Microsoft solutions in previous jobs and then mandate migration to the familiar platform when taking key roles at new organisations
  • Microsoft is endeavouring to turn workgroup collaboration into a more unified whole, with less distinction between email, content and productivity applications.
  • The strategic value of partnering with Microsoft, with the majority of organisations invested in Microsoft platforms and an increasing trend towards standardisation.
  • There are more IT staff with expertise in Microsoft technology.

Common migration problems

1. Cost

Some of the most common costs associated with migrating to Exchange include obtaining the appropriate software licences for Exchange 2007, as well as the licences for any third-party tools that will be required; and purchasing new equipment to support the Microsoft solutions, such as servers and networking equipment. However, licensing costs may not be so bad; check to see if you already own the licences as part of a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. As for equipment, you’ll need a 64-bit server. If you don’t have this already, make sure you install a scalable solution that will allow for future growth.

2. Time and resources

Most IT departments are more than occupied with day-to-day tasks, so taking the time to implement new technology solutions can be difficult. A migration team must be created and they must take the time to analyse the existing infrastructure before drawing up an architectural plan, testing it as part of a pilot project, provisioning users and settings and, finally, completing the migration process itself. All of these tasks are crucial and all of them take a great deal of time.

3. Downtime

Often the biggest worry for the migration process is the associated downtime, which can be devastating for many businesses. Accurate planning must be carried out in order to guarantee that major cutover points — for example, redirecting email flow and migrating the mailboxes of users — do not result in crippling periods of downtime.

4. File conversion

Exchange uses Active Director for its user directory, while Lotus Notes implements its own. As a result, the maintenance of contact information, settings and user profiles can cause tremendous headaches during the migration process. Additionally, security models for logging in are implemented differently between platforms. In order to successfully convert NSF to PST, you should consider dedicated migration software. This software can convert mail, calendar, to-do items, contacts, groups and more.

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