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Case Study: Moving from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange

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Test lab
Before Hyperion began building out the new Exchange platform, Tiseo's team assembled a test lab. "We set up a lab environment that could mimic Exchange with 10,000 users. We would populate mailboxes, route mail, do everything we were intending to do," he explains. Today, the Hyperion Exchange system has 3,800 mailboxes; the lab was designed to support considerable growth.

The test lab also supported connections to Lotus Notes through Lotus Notes Connector, a Microsoft product used to move messages between Notes and Exchange; and Lightweight Directory Synchronization Utility (LDSU), an HP product that performed directory synchronization across all e-mail systems. The plan, however, called for eliminating Lotus Notes and ceasing the coexistence effort altogether.

"One of the most common mistakes I've seen is failing to do enough testing," says Rodgers. "Companies really need to build a staging environment and populate it with real production data. Then they can be sure that their design will work."

Migrating users
How many users the organization should migrate at one time depends on many factors, including the amount of data to be moved and the amount of user training required. As for data, Avanade's Rodgers recommends moving the previous 30 days' worth right away. The rest of the data can be moved to a second storage tier later.

The amount of handholding users require also impacts how many users

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can move at once. "You have to consider the increase in the number of help desk calls. We advise clients to expect a 10% increase in migration-related calls to the help desk," says Rodgers. After the initial flurry of calls, help desk activity falls back to normal levels until the next group is migrated.

After testing the migration process, Hyperion decided to move users in groups of approximately 100. "We tried moving 500 users once and it proved too difficult," says the firm's Tiseo. They targeted Notes users for the initial migration, followed by Exchange 5.5 users and Exchange 2000 users. While the migration was taking place, Hyperion maintained the coexistence environment using Lotus Notes Connector and LDSU to ensure nobody was stranded in the process.

Hyperion established new mailbox quotas as users were migrated. Notes users, due to the nature of Notes, had been accustomed to large mailbox sizes. "Notes handles mail differently on the back end, so large mailboxes aren't as much of a problem," says Tiseo. Hyperion's new quotas are 300MB for regular users and 800MB for VIP users. To a traditional Exchange shop this seems overly generous, admits Tiseo, but the migration team wanted to avoid culture shock. Hyperion also set an e-mail retention policy of 180 days.

This was first published in October 2006

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