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Google Apps Migration: Lessons Learned

November 3, 2014

We thought long and hard before migrating from our on premises Domino mail system. I really wanted IBM SmartCloud to be the answer – an easy migration, a familiar environment and no issues accessing our existing Domino apps (in hybrid mode). But Google was the clear winner for a few reasons:

  • Price – a dramatic advantage
  • OS X desktop integration with Drive – nothing available for Mac users with Connections. This probably sealed the deal for Google
  • Easy and cheap CRM (Zoho CRM)

The CRM is interesting. We were using iExtensions from iEnterprises, now owned by Sugar, which was a Domino app. But despite years of promises it appears that an iExtensions to Sugar migration was never implemented. Nobody wanted to take ownership for moving us to Sugar CRM except as a major customization project.

In the end we just moved our contact and leads names from iExtensions to Zoho. We were able to retain our contact owner and categorization/mailing list information. For anything else we need, such as activity history, we’re just going to look back to iExtensions. We would have had to keep at least a couple of Domino servers running for hybrid SmartCloud Notes (or whatever it’s called this week) so instead we’re keeping one Domino server for accessing apps and historical data.

The points that tipped us to Google proved true: There haven’t been any hidden costs (financially) and Drive works enough like Dropbox that the users are happy. It was trivial to move our files over from Quickr to Drive. Zoho CRM works; we don’t have enough history to really say how well it will meet our needs.

What did we find that we didn’t expect?

Google Apps is a bit like Apple’s products. They think they know what you need and they’re going to deliver it to you, even if you want something else. In other words there are what seem to be fairly obvious customizations missing. The most glaring is that there’s no option to reply without history unless you manually erase the history or run a “lab” app to quote selectively.

The calendar and scheduling is a bit idiosyncratic and really doesn’t play well with enterprise mail systems like Exchange and Domino.

In fact everything is a bit idiosyncratic. It doesn’t work the way Outlook, Notes and Thunderbird do things but it also doesn’t work the way Yahoo and ISP web mail systems do them. Generally the capability you’re looking for is there, but Google has their own terminology for common features and a fairly random menu hierarchy.

When something goes wrong Google business support is responsive up to a point (unlike their virtually non-existent consumer support). But if the problem is at all obscure there’s not much they can do. I think this is more about a cloud solution than about Google vs IBM, but it’s sure not the same as opening up log files and sending diagnostics from our own servers off to IBM for analysis.

It’s fairly early to say if the migration will be a success in the long run. Ask me after the teething pains have passed.

From → Google, IBM Software

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