The Cost of Migrating Between Email Systems

Mergers and acquisitions often bring together enterprises that have different email infrastructures -- typically Lotus Notes and Microsoft Exchange. IT organizations are then faced with the question, "Should we migrate users from one system to the other to establish consistency?"

It's generally quite difficult to make a reasonable business case for converting all the users in an organization from Notes to Exchange or vice versa. However, a single organization with both systems presents a more clear-cut opportunity. Enterprises maintaining more than one email system must deal with a number of factors that increase overall total cost of ownership and may make a migration worthwhile. For example:

  • Adequate skilled administrative and support staff must be maintained on more than one platform -- at all levels, from help desk through architecture.
  • Duplicate client and server components must be periodically upgraded, tested, and patched. This can also double the impact that messaging has on platform costs such as desktop image maintenance.
  • Multiple types of messaging servers increase complexity and limit the organization's ability to consolidate infrastructure to increase reliability and lower operating costs.
  • In order to maintain and improve productivity, duplicate training, documentation, and application integration efforts must be carried out.

The costs to complete an email migration are significant (budget around $200 per user), but the negative impact the above factors have on an organization's TCO for messaging is significant as well.

Organizations with large communities of both Exchange and Notes should carefully analyze their operating costs. The main focus of the analysis should be to determine how long it would take for any projected cost reductions to offset the investment required for a migration. If this "time to payback" is reasonably short -- say two to three years -- a migration to one platform may make financial sense.

... David Ferris

4 Comment

  1. Posted November 15, 2006 at 8:16 AM | Permalink

    This is a very simplistic view and presumes companies only use Lotus Notes and Exchange for Email which although many do, many more do use the capabilities built in or added in for more functionality. Naturally in the case of Exchange this is true it ONLY is an email service. However with Lotus Notes you will find many companies that use Lotus for email AND Applications because it can do that much more without other servers added on top or under it. This creates an added layer which is rarely addressed properly.
    Yes you can move them off email, but you still need your Lotus admins to manage the application side(security, ACLs and mailing groups) and maintain servers and harwdare. Every company that hires, fires or has name changes needs someone to do this task on both environments in this case.
    In the end the company has merely changed server names, made most peple’s except the consultants lives miserable and for what ROI to the client?

  2. Bob
    Posted November 15, 2006 at 8:52 AM | Permalink

    I work in a big organisation where we migrated mail from Notes to Outlook/Exchange a few years ago. Being a Notes developer I did not fancy that very much. But nowdays I’m not so sure anymore. Because when “bread and butter mail services” was no longer the Notes shops responsibility we began to focus on the application side, and today we have a very cost efficient, secure and well maintained application platform compared to the other environments in our organisation. With the daily “mail distractions” on our back I’m not sure we would have done such a good job. And Exchange does a decent job as a mail only platform.

  3. William Smith
    Posted November 15, 2006 at 6:19 PM | Permalink

    Virginia Commonwealth University just conducted a forced switched to Lotus Notes and on the Macintosh it’s a total piece of buggy garbage. I’d rather be sending mail in bitnet circa 1984. They hired a “Dr. Notes” whose job was to meet with faculty to facilitate the migration — I’m thinking of a swarm of bugs, not birds. God knows what it cost, but an effing lot more than the open source squirrelmail we’d been using. All of the unique features are suited for a corporate or perhaps fascistic setting rather than an institution of higher learning. All I can say is IBM must have some powerful good salesmen.

  4. Bob
    Posted November 16, 2006 at 12:07 PM | Permalink

    Lol! William, I’m sure IBM has good salespeople, but they also have some very good products, Lotus Notes being one of them. You are a well educated person I’m sure, and thus able to see things in a bigger perspective. In some aspects it would be easier for the individuals in an organization to use the mail system they personally favor, being Google mail, Hotmail, Squirrel mail or whatever, but for one that would be difficult and expensive for the IT-departments to support. E-mail has become a critical and valuable asset, which is also surrounded by legal requirements. This in turn requires that organizations have a secure and failsafe mail system. Lotus Notes is such a system that on top of being a top rated and cost effective mail application is the leading collaborations software platform. Congratulations! Your management has made an excellent choice that your organization will benefit from today and in the years to come.

    PS Check out the new Mac client here
    And the upcoming “Hannover” release

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  2. By Ed Brill on November 15, 2006 at 7:33 AM

    Ferris: The Cost of Migrating Between Email System

    E-mail is going to be around for a long time. But e-mail is no longer a technology that is driving increased value for organizations by itself, and the time for looking at it as such has passed.

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