At last week's meeting of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Lotus user group, RSM McGladrey presented the case study of their migration from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange for 7000 users.  I had hoped to make this meeting in person, but just couldn't get there in time (though I will be in Minneapolis for Lotusphere Comes to You in two weeks).  No matter, as the meeting notes are quite extensive and worth a read.

The story of RSM McGladrey's migration to Exchange is already documented by both Gartner and Microsoft.  We've even discussed it here before.  So even before reading the meeting notes, I knew a lot about this story, and had questioned some of the data:

  • US$214 per user to migrate mail and calendar only
  • An increase in number of servers, number of administrators, number of add-on products while decreasing things like the amount of per-user storage.
  • No change in the usage profile of Notes -- still in the planning stage for a new architecture, maintaining the existing Notes infrastructure for more than 18 months post-migration

Now admittedly, when the customer undertook their study on whether to migrate or not, Notes 8 wasn't even yet a press release or "Hannover".  And end-user preference did weigh into their decision.  Still, reading these meeting minutes, I can't quite tell what the end benefit of the migration has been.  Tom Hildebrand also points out in his section of the presentation that many of the features that were supposed benefits of moving to Exchange/Outlook were perfectly attainable in the Notes environment.

Let's take a look at some of the points from the presentation:
Some of RSM McGladrey's challenges were with how mobile users could connect to the RSM McGladrey home server from customer locations in order to replicate their mail and other Lotus Notes database. RSM McGladrey did not support web mail. Their security people would not allow port 80 or the Notes port via the internet to allow mobile users to replicate and they had on-going issues with their VPN solution. RSM McGladrey is still on Lotus Notes R5.0.10 on their servers but are planning on upgrading the server to R6 because R5 hasn't been supported by IBM for a couple year. Their users are still on R5.0.8 of the Lotus Notes client.
which, even in January 2005, was seven-year-old technology.
And now?
RSM McGladrey's Lotus Notes Messaging Environment consisted of:

2 SMTP dedicated servers (for inbound and outbound SMTP mail)
2 Domino clustered servers (backed by a SAN). 2,500 people on each server but also clustered with the other server.
5,000 users, no web access to mail, no mobile, no security interface, using local replicas of their mail, no mail quotas.

The new Exchange environment consists of:

2 SMTP dedicated servers (for inbound and outbound SMTP mail)
4 active mail servers and 1 passive server (backed by a SAN)
8,500 users with a 150 Mb hard quota
3-Front-end server (Outlook Web Access, Outlook Mobile, RPC over HTTP)
ISA server
Interesting how much of "what's new" could be accomplished even in the old Notes R5 architecture.  

Which is why it is clear, for better or for worse, that this was primarily a political decision.  That is only given as the first reason for the migration, but as no consideration was given to implementing DWA, NRPC over HTTP in the Notes environment, or anything else (e.g. upgrading to 7, DAMO) that would have helped the Notes environment (which still exists in full today), there's little else to point to.  That's fine, as long as we call it what it is.

Link: MNnotes411: RSM McGladrey talks about its migration >

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