Friday, September 18, 2009

The End Game of Migration

We get a call from a 3rd party, rarely the client, asking us to manage a companies Lotus infrastructure for 3-6 months. Should be the client, we are trying to figure out how to market to the SMB and unknown Lotus customers, thus my post the other day about SEO.

My usual reply is why/when are they going to Exchange/Sharepoint? Prescient I know.

Usually they are small shops that use only mail, but sometimes I recognize the company and KNOW they have applications too. So what's going on?

Sharepoint? .Net? Gmail?

Our job is to smooth the integration between Domino and whatever the client is going to be using in the future. Ideally we never go on site for this, after all if you are leaving this excellent mail system for another one, we are just caretakers now. If we were on site, we would fix your environment, then you would look bad for leaving it.

(There is really no need for us to be on site more than once a week for meetings for reasons I will detail in some other post.)

Integration? "No, we don't want integration, we are dropping Lotus" each client says. Really I inquire. have you thought about....and any number of routes take place after I listen to them explain why they are doing it.

The truth is, unless they really ONLY use it for email(and even in these cases sometimes), Domino is going to be hanging around for a while.

Why is this? A few reasons:

1) Fear - What if Exchange/Sharepoint/Gmail is, OMG, worse! Or the users revolt or a million other ideas that pop into people's heads.

2) Complexity - What's so complex about email? Well Calendar and Scheduling can be troublesome and in some companies the Lotus resource database is the best thing out there for scheduling conference rooms, training etc.

3) Applications - Naturally they say they will rewrite the apps. In 15+ years of this I have heard way more stories of companies spending millions to go to a different platform only to find nothing worked as well or robustly as their Domino apps. Don't believe me and in the middle of it now or thinking about it? Email me, I can connect you with some large companies that do nearly all development on Domino.

4) Time - Sure you could cut over everyone in a weekend, even a day. But you big companies will never do that of course. So the process drags on for a long time, years in fact based on various reports. Small companies can do it quicker, but they fear upheaval so it also take a little bit of time.

5) Time #2 - Here is where the integration kicks in. If you do not cut over everyone at once, you add some expenses to the mix. The Connector between Exchange and Domino must get put in or you have some fidelity issues, of course you can work around it for free using Domino. However, most Microsoft Business Partners will tell you to install(with yet more licenses and CALs and hardware) the connector to integrate the directories between AD and Domino.

6) BES - Blackberry users cause you to also have a 2nd BES in place, one for Domino and one for Exchange. Sure once everyone moves off the old one you can repurpose it, but in the mean time it means more money, hardware, licenses, support.

7) Fax - Lotus Fax Server or some other specific version for Domino would require new hardware, licenses and services/support to now have 2 routes, one for each system.

8) More reasons and some of you out there can add to this in various ways.

So the next time you or your boss or client says they need short term help for the migration, think again and realize a partner that has done it and can manage it for you properly may just make your life easier.