Post1: Migrating to Exchange – One Domino Admin’s tell all journey

It’s been official for a few weeks: management has made a decision, certain user groups are overjoyed, the contracts are signed, and Microsoft is set to make a few million.

I work in an organization that uses Lotus Notes 6.5.x only for email. We are a commodities trading company with 2800 mail users in about 40 countries. We do not have a document management system in place, and many of our users send scanned contracts back and forth with other companies, which drives up the size of their mailboxes enormously. We currently have 1950 mailboxes that over 2GB (included replicas on hubs and cluster mates).

This is my first post on a series of posts that I will write throughout the course of the next 18 months on migrating from Lotus Domino 6.5.6 FP3 HF105 to Microsoft Exchange 2007.

To commemorate this first post, I have to refer to this link I stumbled on today from a slashdot article about the US State Department’s recent Email interruption. The post is called “Bedlam DL3, Me Too”. Very funny, and please note it is 2004. Don’t hate on MS too easily.

The actual project is to implement a global Active Directory and then implement Exchange 2007, and it is being managed by the new CIO, and a couple of other guys within our organization. I haven’t been involved with alot of the negotiations and initial planning with Microsoft.

Just before Christmas, I was called into a meeting to review the messaging side of the project for the final contract since one of the aforementioned guys was on holiday. The technical consultant on the Microsoft side was trying to push through it as fast a possible to get it done and signed. We, on the other hand were going through it with a fine toothed comb. Those guys were pretty sneaky, and took the general attitude of “Don’t worry, we’ll do it, it’ll all be covered, just trust me.” Worse than a used car salesman in alot of ways.

One of the main things that I noted is that they are going to use a tool to migrate existing mailboxes / contacts only for VIP users. Because the tool has to be licensed for each mailbox and each use. This tool apparently is very expensive to license. More details later on which product it is. I mentioned a tool that we use to convert outlook contacts to Lotus Notes which I happen to know works the other way and there started to be some back pedal.

Last week, I started to view some of the Exchange 2007 videos that are out on Microsoft here. For the most part, I can see that there are alot of elements of Outlook that are borrowed from Lotus Notes. On the other hand, there are some features, such as the out of office feature that blow Lotus Notes away. Let’s face it, if you manage a Lotus Notes infrastructure and only allow your users editor access to their mail file, out of office issues cause unnecessary user frustration, help desk calls, and administration effort.

Last week, I sat in on a product and contract review with a certain vendor that I’ll mention in a later post. They will handle the E-Discovery and archiving of exchange. This vendor is already our main backup vendor in most of our sites.

They started to explain how their product works, which utilizes Exchanges built-in journaling functionality to journal all messages to a given mailbox (I hope we can configure more than one) for journaling and E-Discovery. Normal mail archiving is handled by their product. The more they started to explain, the more we realized how much more hardware and more importantly how many SQL server licenses we will require, I think our team started to realize just how this project is going to go. We are already aware of the Microsoft marketing machine promises versus how reality plays out, and we are in the mindset of protecting ourselves from that, but at the end of the 18 month project, I wonder where we will be at (plus or minus) with the projected hardware and the projected annual cost (hardware, network, and server/user licenses).

Microsoft is designing the whole infrastructure and they are bringing in a team to implement it for us with our oversight. That’s how management wanted to handle it. There are pluses to this arrangement and there are minuses. I will report on both.

5 Responses to “Post1: Migrating to Exchange – One Domino Admin’s tell all journey”

  • Keith Brooks says:

    Interesting, some items on my blog might help although at this point the commitment is there.
    However, having said that, what is your fall back plan? At what point will your execs realize they are in this for WAY too much money and ALL they will get is more hardware, licensing and ……email.

  • @Keith, to be fair, we are also getting a global Active Directory, which is needed by alot of other applications such as peoplesoft and trading and accounting applications that are in development.

    Life is a whole lot easier when you have a global AD, and the thinking on our side is that if we are giong to go the whole nine yards, might as well go with Exchange as well while we are at it after piloting some very slow versions of 8.0 and 8.01.

  • Jesper says:

    This will be interesting keep it coming.


  • Keith Taylor says:

    I don’t know how you’re doing it. I’d like to think I could be professional enough to handle a migration to Exchange. However, there’s a huge part of me that feels giving up on Domino is giving up on me.


  • Anonymous says:


    I’m invovled in a similar project. I’d recommend that if you use MS to run the project you take everything with a pinch of salt and question everything they tell you. We had them tell us at the start of the project that a 2gb mailbox would be fine in Exchange, further down the line they now say it’s a potential problem. This is just one example. If I were to run the project again I would get a third party supplier to run the project, someone who knows the product and has completed similar projects. It is clear from my engagement with MS that some of them do not have this experinece or knowledge. Beggars belief I know.

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