Tools & Technologies

Business Reasons for Migrating from Notes/Domino to SharePoint

With the heightened interest in SharePoint–the level of discussion it garners in news outlets, the number of third party vendors that are announcing SharePoint integrations, and the discussions I’ve had with Notes shops that are considering a shift to an all-of-Microsoft infrastructure–as Ed asks, “what are the business drivers for a migration?

Ed quotes from an article in Redmond Channel Partner Online on these drivers, and asserts that only #3 is a true business driver:

One is change in IT management, two is user pressure to get onto Microsoft as a standard, and [third is following] mergers and acquisitions, where they own both technologies and [decide] to standardize on Microsoft.

Business Reasons for Migrating to SharePoint
My analysis is that there is a constellation of drivers that may–depending on the organizational context–accumulate into an overall decision to shift from Notes/Domino to SharePoint. Some of them are trends that are starting to play out, some of them are frustrations that have not had a suitable place for airing for a long time, and some of them are linked to strategic decisions at a high-level in the organization.

Regardless, the mere availability of a potentially strong replacement for a Notes/Domino infrastructure is causing many organizations to re-think their collaboration infrastructure strategy. The questioning and considerations aren’t new–every organization should periodically review its collaboration infrastructure decision to see whether (a) the assumptions on which the original decisions were made still hold true, and (b) whether there are newer and better technologies available to meet their current definition of those needs and wants–but what’s different this time is that SharePoint is increasingly up to the game.

Here’s what I see and hear as “drivers” for shifting from Notes/Domino to SharePoint:

  • User Rebellion Against Notes … Some people just don’t like Notes–the way the mail database works, the way various custom applications have been coded by inhouse or external developers, the way that it is different from their Microsoft Office applications. This “I don’t like Notes” rebellion plays out in poor utilitization of Notes applications … systems that have been built to help users get their work done are worked around by the users and substitute approaches are found instead. IT organizations facing this ongoing user rebellion hope that SharePoint will be different.
  • Vendor Consolidation … One of the wider movements in recent years has been the establishment of a preferred vendor / supplier list, and thus the reduction in the number of vendor relationships that an organization must maintain and cultivate. It is supposed to help an organization optimize their internal cost structures. If an organization chooses to have Microsoft on the list of preferred vendors (and there are few that don’t), then IBM and others have to fight very hard to outline their unique and special status that makes them an exception. Often, tight integration with Microsoft is one of the positioning statements so that they don’t appear to be too different. But in IBM’s case, Notes/Domino is different–it’s different to use, it uses a different development environment, it requires different people. And with Microsoft’s own collaboration offerings increasingly becoming competitive (or better) than Notes/Domino, IBM’s arguments are becoming weaker.
  • Notes Isn’t Seen as “Strategic” … When the availability of substitute technologies comes on the market, every organization needs to decide what will get their “strategic” blessing and what will be seen as merely “tactical”. In the early days of Notes, when there were few decent substitute technologies, Notes was given the “strategic” label. But now the strategicness of Notes is much less clear, and for many organizations the use of Notes/Domino applications is a tactical bandaid until there are appropriate alternatives from current strategic vendors. Where the business IT strategy is “Microsoft-everywhere”, and new application needs are surfaced that can not be adequately met within this definition, a Notes application may be whipped up to meet the need in the short-term. But because it is different, and because it’s not part of the strategy, it is seen as less.
  • People for Evangelism and Support … The full exploitation of a collaboration technology within an organization requires the availability of people who can popularize and evangelize its use. They describe what can be done with it. They talk about possibilities. They get people to look beyond the problems and issues and to envision a brighter future. The dominance of Microsoft on the desktop, the way that they are seen as “mainline” and “safe”, their involvement in educational institutions and initiatives, the wide availability of books and training courses on a host of Microsoft topics–and the relative dearth of equivalent materials from IBM … means that there are many more people evangelizing for Microsoft than for IBM. That translates into technical staff availability too–although there is some responsiveness to market demands, there are more people trained by default in the Microsoft approach than in the IBM one.
  • Wider Infrastructure Decisions … Organizations making IT decisions in Microsoft’s favor about wider infrastructure–say an ERP solution–will (appropriately) want to utilize other parts of the Microsoft platform that integrates with, looks similar to, and delivers increasing benefits to users and management. So if an organization implements Microsoft Dynamics as its key business platform, then of course they will be increasingly interested in SharePoint and Exchange, even if they are an apparently happy Notes and Domino shop.

I actually mostly agree with Sara’s position on this one:

Analyst Sara Radicati, who is president and CEO of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based market research firm The Radicati Group Inc., says that by itself, SharePoint won’t be pushing users off the Lotus platform. “I don’t think the release of a new SharePoint server makes migration from Lotus to Exchange more compelling,” she says. “Companies who use Notes are dealing with a much broader set of internal decision choices before choosing to migrate away from Notes.” …

The mere availability of SharePoint isn’t going to push people from IBM to Microsoft, but (1) it *does* make it more compelling, and (2) it becomes one of the internal decision choices that may swell into an overall rational to migrate.

What are Your Drivers?
If your organization has Notes/Domino today, are you considering a migration to Microsoft and SharePoint? Why? If you’re able to speak publicly, please leave a comment below. If not, please drop me a line (I promise to honor confidences).

Finally, if you are considering an implementation of SharePoint, you need to buy, read and apply the six step strategy in my white paper, SharePoint for Business. It outlines a strategy for success in taking the technology of SharePoint and making it work within an organization. It is organization-centric … it’s a must have.

Categories: Tools & Technologies