Mailbag: Migrating from one messaging system to another

* Readers weigh in on why companies switch messaging systems

My recent article on messaging migration prompted quite a few responses. I’d like to share some of those with you here.

* “Most migration efforts, from my limited view, are not always initiated by IT. Our migration from Lotus Notes (which I had worked with for nearly nine years) to Exchange/Outlook was precipitated by a merger where one of the companies made it a condition of acquisition. Also, the company I worked for had lost its desire to pay for a Notes admin/developer, so the decision to migrate (based on contracts/attrition/payroll limits) was made by non-IT people.”

* “We currently are migrating from Lotus Domino 5 with Notes 5, to Exchange 2003 with Outlook 2003. Why? We were told to. I ran the messaging system here for years and every time a new VP was hired, I would wait two weeks for the obligatory request as to why it was that we weren't running Outlook. I would give them the same security/virus speech and in 20 minutes or less they were happy and we kept running Notes. We have been reasonably happy with Notes, but we are a heavy calendar shop and the users refuse training so there are lots of problems with the calendars which everybody blames the product (Notes) for.”

* “In our experience, it seems that these requests are driven out of frustration from a user or collection of users who compare an older installation of a messaging client against a competing vendor's latest and greatest offering. Typically, they have encountered a problem that they feel wouldn't happen if they were using another messaging client. Sort of the old ‘Grass is always greener…’ theory. While these requests from users don't necessarily force a migration, a number of requests over time does cause the frequent reevaluation of a corporate messaging standard. The technical research usually shows that there is little to be gained, feature-wise, in selecting one vendor vs. another when comparing clients head to head. The migration costs are never worth the perceived slight gain in productivity/desired features.”

* “From what I've read in blogs/discussions over the years, there are two basic reasons why a company migrates from Notes/Domino to Microsoft: a) a smaller company using Notes/Domino is purchased by a larger company where Microsoft is the standard mail client. Bureaucrats in the larger company demand that all mail users be on the same platform, or b) upper management likes using Microsoft Outlook at home, and therefore pushes the IT directors to switch.”

Thank you to everyone who contributed their insights.

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