Migrating from Notes – Part 2 – the applications

2 posts ago I discussed some gotcha’s with email.  Ben picked up on the fact that I hadn’t discussed workflow emails containing document links…and Graham also picked up on applications being the biggest challenge…so here goes!

My experience has always been that email is migrated first with applications following, and these are all enterprise level migrations with more than 10,000 user involved.  The momentum is generally great with email and once processes and procedures are in place you get into a relatively simple repeatable pattern.  I’ve found with applications the momentum is broken by several key activities:

  • Is the application still used?  Simple one and there are plenty of tools to identify unused applications. 
  • Who owns the application?  Normally even with the best deployment procedures the owner has changed jobs, the organisation has changed and this stage can be diffucult for both the IT and business sections of the organisation.
  • What do you as an IT function decide to recommend for a particular application (choices below)?
  • What does the business want to do with the application?

Applications are an altogether more complex and difficult beast.  I’ll divide them into 3 simple categories:

  • Those based on a standard out of the box template
  • Those based on a standard template which has been tweaked
  • Those developed to a bespoke standard to resolve a particular business need

 I’ll not get into the arguments about why you would migrate but consider that should you need to migrate for one reason or another you have 4 options:

  • Retire
  • Re-code for Domino (i.e. browser access with no reliance on Notes client)
  • Replace with an off the shelf solution
  • Re-code for another application platform

 For the last 2 options there will also be a data migration exercise to undertake.

So in the world of Stu where all migrations run smoothly (ha!) what would I recommend if you must migrate:

  • you are going to have a disrupting influence on your organisation – be up front and clear about it.
  • remove the reliance on the Notes client before migrating email.  Let me expand – I don’t mean force users to use a browser but at least get the application browser ready (through re-coding or implementing technology such as Bowstreet), remove the need for doc-links which any alternate email system won’t understand.
  • get business buy in to your recommendations for the applications early.
  • try and build momentum on the migration side…..

 Many blogs, and my own experience, shows that years after the mail migration has completed the application environment will still be living.  In fact in most large organisations there will be some business critical applications that will be complex enough to make migration so difficult or risky that a browser based Domino solution for that application is likely to be the only solution.


  1. Stu-

    Just out of curiosity…Have you ever work with a company of 10K users who had both mail and significant applications on Domino that completely migrated off Domino in 3 years? 5 years? 10 years? Or do the Domino apps just stay around until they are no longer used and the servers can finally be turned off?



  2. I’ve never seen Domino disappear. I have seen many applications migrated to other platforms but there will always be a handful where the applications are just too costly to migrate and they would be recoded for Domino browser access and remove the need for a Notes client. The best example I can give is one where I was the Lotus technical lead for the email migrations for a ~15K user migration. They finished in 2002 and the applications and a mail environment for workflow emails still exist today. The old environment’s web enabled Domino replacement is likely to be completed during 06. The only other point I would make with that example is that they weren’t a large application house and only had a handful of bespoke applications.


  3. Doesn’t the fact that they weren’t a monster application company speak volumes about how hard it is to actually duplicate a Domino application on another platform? If it’s taking over 4 years to get a handful of workflow applications to a new platform, how long would it take to migrate the 3 heavily integrated and workflow enabled applications that I created in the last 3 years at my previous company? Would it even be possible? I would love to hear from a customer that had a large Domino installation that actually moved completely off of Domino. I am sure that finding an Exchange shop that migrated to Domino and has no traces of Exchange anywhere in their environment would not be a hard thing to do. Maybe Lotus PR should exploit this fact since MS PR conveniently ignores it.


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