The Application Migration Debate

For those not following the present debate in the Lotus Blogs after Rod Boothby suggested a method for migrating applications from Notes, please see these links(Rod’s initial post , Ed Brill’s first post, Rod’s second post, Ed Brill’s second post).  Many people in the comment threads have pointed out that Rod’s methodology would not work for the majority of Notes applications.  I agree with the technical content, if not with some of the tone or personal content, of most of the comments made to Rod as I feel his approach to migration is not suited to migrating databases from Domino.  Back in January 2006 during the “Red Bull” hype I posted 3 items on migration from Domino and on my experience of Domino applications:

Domino Applications – The Power – The legacy

Migrating from Notes – Part 2 – the applications

So yer gonner migrate to Exchange- What do you need to consider-

My experience from enterprises where a migration away from Domino has occured is that 80% of the applications, based on standard templates, are easy to migrate – not usng Rod’s methods but other standard migration tools.  20% of the applications however are generally very difficult to migrate.  [This is based on real experience of being the key Lead Lotus Admin resource on one 15,000 user, 2,000 application migration and a mentoring resource on a second 12,000 user, 1,000 application migration >> both migrations required due to mergers or acquisitions].

Like any database system be it Oracle, SQL, MySQL, DB2 the migration of complex bespoke applications is difficult so I would also disagree with some arguments which say “why have Domino if it makes migration so difficult” – well Domino doesn’t make it any more complex than another platform it is the necessary complexity of some bespoke applications which do (and that isn’t a Domino thing its an IT thing).  I know of many people who don’t think of Domino as an application platform – well in my view it is and if you look round most large Domino shops you’ll see some legacy applications (which drive users nuts) and some leading edge bespoke applications.  When assessing applications for migration you’ll soon stumble across that application well off the IT radar which is mission critical.  You’ll also then see that the costs to migrate complex applications are high – and again this isn’t solely a Domino issue it is a wider issue of migrating databases from one platform to another.

There are a bigger questions for each application in every enterprise and they are – what is the best platform for this application?  what will the end user experience be?  how will it integrate with my collaborative and desktop tools?  When answering these you may find some applications fall off the Domino platform but you may well be surprised at the number that would fall in.



  1. Very well put Stu.

    In my own limited way, I attempted to assert the same basic tenents as your post.

    Incumbent technologies always have a bias.

    Generally speaking, when an application is conceived, those tasked with building the application look for the best platform available, at the time the app is built, to be used to build the application. Certainly there are modifiers to this idea, but in general nobody WANTS to work with a less than optimal platform.

    Now, once the app is built, there is huge sunk cost that needs to be overcome by any new platform. I believe that Mr Boothby was attempting to show that the sunk costs of N/D are easy to surmount, but in doing so, as you so elegantly point out, he is being naive to the true sunk costs…the business logic coded into the application.


  2. If costs are to high, leave applications on the server and grow new client applications as front ends. This is easy and you have the option of moving the backend system later if you like.


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