A real life large enterprise decided to move away from Notes/Domino.  I am part of the Notes to SharePoint migration team with the focus on the Notes application migration. The client already has carried out the mail migration to Exchange (which is easy with the right tools). I don’t know why they decided to move away from Notes. I know IBM renamed Notes to Domino, I don’t care and I stick to using the Notes name when mentioning Notes client and browser apps running on a Domino server.
In this blog I will share the work we have done so far and other experiences that might be important for you. I guess I will write more blogs about this project in the period 2014 till 2016.
My background is 100% Notes, before I started this project I never touched SharePoint or installed Active Directory.
We are now three months into this project and so far we have worked on the following tasks.
  1. Notes application inventory
  2. Quest Notes Migrator For SharePoint evaluation and test
  3. Notes app to SharePoint conversion documentation

Phase 1; Create proper inventory of your Notes applications

A. get rid of not used Notes applications
You will see that many Notes applications are no longer used and do not need to be migrated. So the first task is to get rid of the not used applications. The knowledge of the clients Notes administrators and developers is needed for this phase. In addition we used Quest NMSP to scan all Notes databases on the different Domino servers. This scan gives a great insight in the application usage. This task will take much time because you will have to talk to each application owner and see if the application may be removed.
B. collecting information about the used Notes applications
In this task you must collect information about the Notes application that you will need during the migration. We have collected information like: Application name, Notes databases used within this application, owner, size, short description of application function, usage and some other organization related details.
In addition we tried to group several Notes application with similar functions to one group. The goal is to create one new (SharePoint) application for all these similar Notes apps. You don’t want to end up with 5 different, almost equal form functions point of view, document libraries in SharePoint.
We categorized the Notes application complexity into low, medium or high. We created rules for this job. The reason of this categorization is because the client wanted to get this insight. In addition it’s wise to start with the simple Notes apps.
The most important job of this phase is to decide where to move the Notes application to. You can migrate to SharePoint, Intranet, MS Dynamics, SAP and other platforms within the organization. You can even decide to host the application externally or buy something of the shelf. The client created criteria to make this decision.
Collecting all this information will take much time because you must wait for application owners and architects to respond. I would suggest to start with this phase as early as possible because most clients can manage this phase them self without the help of external (technical) consultants.

Phase 2; Install the proper tools to migrate the Notes applications away from Notes

In this case, for this particular client, we will start with the migration of  Notes applications to SharePoint. Approximately 40% of the Notes apps will go to SP, the rest will go to other platforms. We will start with the tools we need for the migration to SP. Later during the project we might need other tools to migrate notes apps to other platforms (like MS Dynamics), something to worry about later on during the project.
For migrating Notes apps to SP we have chosen Quest NMSP. The reason is that Quest is capable for migrating Notes content, migrating Notes security (ACL, roles, reader author fields), has the notes doc link tracking support inside and can migrate forms and views. But as it turns out now we will not use Quest to migrate forms and views because recreating these from scratch in SP seems to go faster than fixing the Quest mess in the generated Notes forms and views (no offense to Quest). I must say we did not do a proper assessment of the other tools on the market.
In this clients case getting a SP 2013 test environment is taking some time. So we decided to create a SP 2013 environment from scratch for testing Quest and development POC in our own environment. We needed this environment because Quest needs you to install software on the SP server for the link tracking and to speed up the content conversion. Randy of Dell Quest has written a great blog how to setup all servers needed for SP 2013 environment and how to install the Quest tools on it. Me as Notes guy followed this guide and I succeeded in getting these servers up and running and get Quest NMSP services installed and configured. Here is the link to Randy’s blog.
The great advantage of having these servers is that you will understand what it takes to install the Quest tools on SP 2013 server in order to explain it to the client. You can use this environment to give the first demos to the client and you may use it to evaluate the Quest tooling. So far I like what I have seen form Quest point of view.

Phase 3; The phase I am in currently

We (client) have made a very good inventory of the really used Notes applications that must go to SP (and to other platforms used by the client). We have grouped similar Notes apps, from functionality point of view, together with the goal to create one SP app for these Notes apps. We have a SP 2013 server environment with Quest tooling operational and we can demo it to the client.
Now we need to break down, for each Notes application, the functionality within this application. We must write down details on the content in the Notes application and other details like security. So I started writing word documents for each Notes application and capturing the functions in this document. With capturing I mean creating screen captures of all Notes forms, views, actions and so on. The goal of this approach is to create a mid level document explaining the app functions. We will not dive to deep into the application script libraries that, for example, are created to get a Notes workflow in place because this code will not be used because the workflow will be created in a different manner in SP. I hope you understand my approach. So bottom line I write a document with many screen captures which quickly show the applications functions. Then the client reviews this document in order to check if I did not miss functions. When approved by the client it’s time for entering the SharePoint details. So imagine a table with two columns, the left column drills down the functions of the Notes application (without going into the coding and field level). The right column will explain to the application owner how the Notes functions (like screens, forms, workflows and so on) will be recreated in SharePoint. Then the finished document with Notes and SP functions is send back to the application owner for approval. When approved, the development of this application can start in SP.
At this moment we are starting with the development of the first SP apps to replace the Notes apps. So far I can tell that SP has much more default features and functions out off the box included compared with Notes. So (power) users can use the browser to modify views, add columns and can do level designing of forms with InfoPath. With Notes apps you need designer rights and a Notes designer client to do similar work compared with SP (which is too difficult for power users to do, so you need a Notes developer). On the other hand it seems that creating simple and complex applications is easier and faster in Notes compared SP. The main reason is that in Notes you have the Notes designer client which is a very power development tool which can do all development work, compared with the tools you need in SP (which are InfoPath, SharePoint designer and C#) which work slow and are not designer friendly. InfoPath can be used to create SP forms, when you create a form you can’t snap the fields to a grid, so it’s a nightmare to create pixel perfect forms compared with Notes form creation. Anyway, I will keep you posted about the things we learn when moving 60 Notes applications to SP and another 100 Notes applications to other platforms.
It won’t be a walk in the park – that’s for sure.
Thank you.