Tools help medical lab move over to Exchange

A set of migration tools from Microsoft Corp. lets Lotus Notes/Domino users move onto Exchange.

These tools have already helped one organization make the switch. BC Biomedical, a diagnostic lab in Surrey, B.C., piloted Microsoft’s Application Analyzer 2006 and Data Migrator 2006 for Lotus Domino back in December for migrating its 700 Notes users onto Exchange. Prior to migrating, the lab had been using Lotus Notes for approximately 15 years.

Application Analyzer is an analysis and reporting tool that describes existing Lotus applications and provides usage information for them. The tool also recommends to what Microsoft collaboration environment the applications can most easily migrate.

Data Migrator takes key information from Lotus Notes templates and moves them to a Windows Sharepoint Services Web site for use with a Microsoft-based collaboration application. “Last year we started thinking about moving away from Notes because it was getting more and more difficult to find applications that worked well with it,” said Nick Szirth, CIO for BC Biomedical.

Notes lacked easy integration with scheduling applications, Blackberries and software-based internal voice mail applications, he said.

“That’s what kept us from using Blackberries,” said Szirth. “It’s those key things that drove us away from Notes.”

However, Szirth said he didn’t want to commit to anything unless there was an ability to easily migrate users. Szirth sought the advice of his reseller Compugen, an IT infrastructure and lifecycle management firm. He also consulted with other vendors to see what tools they could offer.

“We were the ones who asked to see what it would take for us to move over to Exchange,” he said. What convinced Szirth to use the Microsoft tools was the fact that these were free and simple to use. He said some other vendor tools were not.

Szirth and his team used Analyzer to make sure the Exchange server was properly configured, and used Migrator to move data from one server to the other. Szirth admits he could have done it all in one day but decided to roll migration out over a month.

“I was nervous (that) we would end up with so much work and so many calls and problems that we’d be saddled for a month [after the migration was complete],” Szirth said.

According to Hilary Wittmann, Windows product manager for Microsoft Canada, the Analyzer tool also assess the Lotus Domino environment and lets customers know what applications are there and how these are being used. The Migrator tool moves data from Lotus Domino to Exchange.

Microsoft also updated its messaging and calendaring migration tools. Wittmann said updates to the Exchange Calendar Connector make it easier for Exchange users to look up busy times in a Lotus Notes users’ calendar during a “coexistence” phase. Updates to the Migration wizard allow users to keep personal preferences from their Lotus address book.

Microsoft has also introduced three Windows Sharepoint Services application templates — Discussion Database, Team Room and Document Library — that have a similar look and feel to Notes templates so customers have an easier time using the new software. These offerings are part of a library that already includes 30 other templates that are similar to those in Notes.

In addition to these new resources, Microsoft also has updated existing tools for helping customers migrate from Lotus to Exchange: Exchange Connector for Lotus Notes Domino, Exchange Calendar connector for Lotus Notes Domino and Migration Wizard for Lotus Notes Domino.

Microsoft and IBM, between them, own the bulk of the market for business messaging and collaboration software, according to analysts from IDC and Gartner Inc. Both companies say they routinely migrate customers from each other’s collaboration software to their own.

“IBM and Microsoft both have active and competitive migration efforts,” said Ken Bisconti, vice president of product management for Lotus Software at IBM. “We’ve had well over 1,800 customers who have purchased competitive migration packages to move off of Microsoft and other competitive software onto IBM’s Lotus platform.”

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