Migrating Lotus Notes applications to SharePoint 2007 – Part 1

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3  

Part 1: Starting the Migration

Some Background

Lotus Notes and Domino was the first Enterprise Collaboration software and the only one for many years (refer to: The History of Notes and Domino). Introduction of Microsoft’s SharePoint Technologies in addition to IBM’s own goof-up of introducing Workspace brand (with a completely different technical stack) and then retreating back contributed a lot to its downfall. What most customers have realized is that Lotus Notes is no longer a strategic platform for IBM. All the IBM’s newest collaboration products like – Quickr and  Connections are based on non-Notes technologies.

The trend of Lotus Notes and Domino loosing market share continues with more and more customers transitioning away from it. First it was only Microsoft but now even Google has started targeting Lotus Notes application customers. When transitioning away from Lotus Notes/Domino product family, many customers choose Microsoft’s SharePoint as their Portal and Collaboration platform and migrate to it. In this series of 4 posts, I will cover the approach for migrating Lotus Notes application databases to SharePoint 2007, process and tools available to accelerate the process.

Difference between “Lotus Notes” and “Lotus Domino”

Customers use both these terms interchangeably which often confuses SharePoint developers. Here’s the difference for you:

  • Lotus Notes: name of the Client application installed on user desktop. Needed to access the Lotus Notes mailboxes and applications

  • Lotus Domino: name of the Server. Hosts and runs Lotus Notes applications and messaging components

Applications run on the Lotus Domino servers and are accessible either using the Lotus Notes client or a web browser or both.

What’s on the Lotus Domino server?

Following are the different type of databases you would find on the server:

  • Domino Directory: Maintains Server configuration, user accounts and messaging information. The filename is always “names.nsf”. Domino server cannot run without it. In Microsoft world, these features are spread across the Active Directory, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SharePoint servers

  • System Databases: a set of supporting databases needed to support server and administrative functions

  • Mailboxes: user mailboxes and mail-in databases. In Microsoft world, mailboxes are on the Exchange server and mail-in databases are equivalent to the mail enabled Libraries in SharePoint

  • Application Databases: business applications like document library, discussion forum, employee self service or workflow applications. List/Library and Sites would be the equivalent in SharePoint world

  • Notes Templates: any Lotus Notes database can be saved as a template and then another clone of the application can be created using the template. Lot of Template database ship out of the box in the product. List template and Site template would be the equivalent in SharePoint

When migrating messaging infrastructure, you would concentrate on the Domino Directory and Mailboxes on Lotus Domino server. For migrating the application infrastructure, you would concentrate on the Application Databases running on the Lotus Domino server.

Microsoft Resources and Guidance

Resources for Interoperability and Migration from Lotus Domino in Interoperability TechCenter is the homepage for all information on migrating Lotus Notes environment to Microsoft. For Microsoft partners, there is information available on Transitioning IBM Lotus Notes Customers page in the Microsoft Partner Network website.

Migrating from Lotus Notes to the Microsoft Collaboration Platform document provides a high-level overview of the process of analyzing and planning a migration from Lotus Notes to the Microsoft Collaboration Platform. It introduces the various tools available for coexisting these two environments as well as for migrating the Domino Directory, mail, and applications.

Lot of content I discuss in this series is also available on the Microsoft website links given above.

High-Level Migration Approach

For migrating the Lotus Notes and Domino environment to Microsoft platform, you would need to migrate:

  1. Mailboxes to Microsoft Exchange server

  2. Applications to Microsoft SharePoint server

Lotus Notes client would get replaced by the Microsoft Office Outlook client for accessing mailboxes and offline SharePoint content. Users would use a Web browser for access the SharePoint sites and applications.

Messaging and Directory Services is Standards based so a tools based approach is possible. Migration Tools are available from Microsoft and other 3rd Party vendors.

In the next post, I will discuss the application analysis process and then the migration process in post after that.

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