Trench Tales: When you really want to retire that messaging platform

Migrating from one software program resolution to a special one in an enterprise atmosphere can contain all types of challenges. This was introduced house to me just lately after I talked with a colleague a few migration venture he was engaged on. Martin Urwaleck has been working in IT for nearly twenty years and was beforehand head of desktop and store operations for a corporation in Hamburg, Germany. He presently resides in Vienna, Austria, the place he manages the IT operations for a public firm. Being answerable for IT means, in fact, not simply operating day-to-day operations but in addition wanting towards the longer term, and on this regard, I’ve already talked about how Martin needed to restructure the corporate’s legacy community using VLANs and the way he’s needed to take care of the issue of poor and missing documentation on the firm. However these are solely two of many various tasks Martin has deliberate or was just lately concerned with, and alongside the strains of what our Trench Tales sequence is all about, we’re now going to look at one other difficult IT venture that Martin is going through — migrating away from an current messaging platform — and see what we will study from how he handles it.

The precise scenario might be not one which a lot of our readers might want to take care of. As a result of it includes migrating away from utilizing what was once known as Lotus Notes as a messaging platform. Lotus Notes and its associate product Domino have been acquired by IBM in 1995 and have been just lately re-sold to HCL Technologies, an organization based mostly in India. I by no means used Lotus Notes myself though an in depth good friend of mine used to manage it at his firm and confirmed me what it was able to. Lotus Notes was certainly effectively forward of its time when it first got here out, however its use declined throughout IBM’s tenure, and it’ll be attention-grabbing to see how the platform evolves below HCL’s possession.

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However when you could not have ever labored with Notes at your individual firm, you’ve most likely needed to face the problem of migrating from some legacy software program product to a contemporary resolution. And the teachings you may study from one migration — even a comparatively obscure messaging platform migration — can usually assist put together you for fulfillment in any future migration tasks you is likely to be concerned with.

I began by asking Martin how the product was getting used at his firm. “It’s just not Notes,” he replied. “I’ve learned that Notes is the client and Domino is the server. Domino is at the heart of our company’s web site and it’s running a lot of internal applications as well. In fact, it’s the mail gateway for our IBM iSeries (aka AS/400) too.” I requested him for me particulars about how Notes/Domino was applied and he replied that “according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, we currently have two internal servers running as a cluster: a gateway server for fax & SMS; and a cluster in the DMZ running our web site and webmail service and also support for Verse, the mobile client for Notes.”

I requested him subsequent why their messaging platform wanted to be modified. “Most of my users are using just messaging,” Martin stated, “and no other Notes applications. If you are using Gmail privately, you expect certain features that are not available, and for an Outlook diehard like me it’s nearly unusable. Mail, Contacts & Calendar are all different applications in different windows — in fact messaging is just a Notes application.”

And there’s one other downside. “Another issue is that the UI is somewhere between weird and ugly,” Martin stated. “The UI hasn’t been changed for years — nine years to be exact — and users prefer UIs they are used to like Outlook or Gmail. They simply don’t care about the potential of the UI because they don’t use it.”



Naturally, if you retire one resolution that you must exchange it with one other. And after I requested Martin what he was going to exchange Notes with as a messaging platform he replied with the plain reply. “The successor to Notes Messaging for us will be Exchange/Outlook.” I requested him why and he replied that there have been a number of causes for this determination. “First, we will be getting an Enterprise Agreement with Microsoft soon, so I will have all the licenses available with our Microsoft 365 E3 contract. Second, Outlook is widely known as a messaging client so I will have nearly no investments needed in training or support. Third, there are a lot of migration tools available out there for doing this type of migration, which will make the transition easier.” I jumped in at that time and requested him what migration software he was going to make use of. Martin replied, “I’m presently contemplating Mail Migration from BCC operating myself and Panagenda to do the total migration venture.”

Martin’s fourth and remaining cause for deciding upon Alternate/Outlook for changing Notes as his messaging platform was that it “would enable me to get a foothold in the cloud for our company.” After I countered this by asking why he hadn’t determined upon utilizing Alternate On-line as an alternative of internet hosting an Alternate Server on-premises, he replied that “from an economic point of view there’s no reason not to go to Exchange Online, but I have to convince my company of course that cloud is here to stay. If you move the right workloads into the cloud, that is. At the moment as I’m waiting for my Microsoft contract, my team is building up the first Exchange server. As soon as we have our IT mailboxes running on Exchange, we will use the migration tool we’ve chosen to help establish coexistence between Notes and Exchange.” After I requested him how lengthy he thought the entire migration venture would possibly take, he replied, “From the experience of other Notes migrations I would expect a project duration of six months maximum. The biggest issue is that we have is to get some intelligence (i.e. routing information) in our mail gateway so we can handle two messaging platforms in parallel.”

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I completed my dialogue with Martin by asking him if he had any remaining feedback, and he stated, sure, he had one about Lotus Notes basically. “Notes is an incredible product that was in its beginning far ahead of its time. It improved very fast, and the code was stable. The turning point was when IBM acquired Notes and tried to integrate it into its own portfolio. It simply didn’t work out, so IBM lost interest and stopped innovating the product. When I entered the company this year, Notes 9 was the current release — and Notes 9 was released in 2013! And, except for some fix packs, Notes received no updates until 2019! This year Notes 10 was released, but with a lot of trouble accompanying it. And then Notes was bought by HC, the biggest Notes customer of IBM. Notes 11 will soon be released, and not just the client but the Domino server gets a new version as well. So, we are currently implementing oauth2 in Domino and will proceed with running our website on Domino for the near future because even node.js is available. But in the meantime, we don’t have to stick on pure Domino development.”

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