Case Study: Moving from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange


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Exchange migration best practices

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  • Limit the period of messaging coexistence
  • Start with a detailed senior-level planning and design session
  • Stabilize Active Directory
  • Build a testing and prototyping environment
  • Invest in third-party tools
  • Use single active/passive pairs for Exchange clusters
  • Plan for early and frequent communication around user migration
  • Migrate users in manageable chunks (100 at a time recommended)
Source: Gartner Inc.

Standardizing on Exchange
Hyperion decided to converge on a single e-mail system (Microsoft Exchange) for improved manageability, reliability and scalability, and to provide a consolidated platform for future messaging-based collaboration. The resulting consolidated messaging platform would also enable better e-mail security, especially for virus protection and spam control.

The firm quickly rejected alternatives to Exchange. Outsourcing e-mail would become quite expensive as the company continued to grow. Coexistence was too costly, and standardizing on Notes was rejected by users.

Standardizing on Microsoft Exchange proved to be an easy decision. "Most people were already familiar with Outlook," says Tiseo. "We looked at having Outlook clients work with the Notes back end. It works, but you lose some functionality." So the company decided on Exchange and Outlook.

There are two ways to pull off this kind of migration: a Big Bang approach in which you move everyone over in a weekend or incrementally, moving small groups of users over an extended period of time. "We don't recommend the Big Bang approach. Most companies are not prepared to deal with the negative user impact," says Scott Rodgers, a technology infrastructure practice director and Microsoft certified architect at Microsoft application integrator Avanade Inc. in Seattle.

Hyperion opted for a gradual, two-phased approach. The first phase centralized Exchange messaging storage groups at four regional hubs--California, Connecticut, the U.K. and Singapore--and migrated users to Exchange 2003. In the second phase, the company would build out Exchange messaging as a collaboration platform.

To execute the consolidation strategy, "we convened a team of about 25 senior-level engineers worldwide to hash out a unified approach," says Tiseo. The team had to address a number of issues, including how to handle Active Directory, how to set up the storage and how best to ensure high e-mail availability. They also had to contend with e-mail retention policies, mailbox sizing and security, and plan the actual user migration process.

Exchange requires Active Directory and "you have to deploy Active Directory first--get it up and stable--and only then start hooking Exchange to it," says Rodgers.

Tiseo said his team "didn't have much Exchange or Active Directory skills," so they engaged Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co. to run an intensive, week-long onsite Active Directory/Exchange training program.

The migration team spent the next three months working with HP to pin down the high-level design. In the end, Hyperion rolled out a single Active Directory domain globally to its four regional hubs and 30 branch sites. They also set up a management, monitoring and reporting infrastructure for Active Directory.

This was first published in October 2006

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