An Admin Looks Back at a Career with Notes/Domino
As so much is being written about moving off of the Notes/Domino platform I thought it might be useful to look back at my own experience. Much of what I’m reading lately is from Domino developers. This is, in contrast, the experience of a long-time admin.
For many, many years – since we migrated off of cc:Mail if you must know – I managed an infrastucture that eventually included Notes, Domino, Sametime, Quickr, Traveller and CRM running within Domino (iExtensions). This was for a relatively small management consulting firm operating globally.
At one time I managed Domino servers on premise, at a local cohosting site, at my home and on a national hosting provider. This was all to take advantage of Domino’s amazing replication, clustering and failover. We were protected from environmental and hardware glitches about as well as we could be.
In the end that was the products’ downfall though: we could no longer justify running that much infrastructure for under 50 users. We were also migrating our professional staff to Macintosh and the Mac support for Notes, and especially for Quickr, just wasn’t on a par with that for Windows. And finally we had the usual complaints that everything looked and felt old-fashioned.
In late 2014 the company made the decision to go to the cloud and get out of the business of maintaining servers. We looked hard at IBM’s hosted offerings but they didn’t address some of our lingering issues, and they were significantly more expensive than the alternatives.
We ended up going with what was then called Google Apps for Business, now Google for Work, and Zoho CRM.
What did we learn?
The transition was relatively easy in the end. Our Google partner, Viwo, found a tool to migrate all our Notes mail and archives. We moved the contact data from iExtensions into Zoho by simple export/import and abandoned our CRM history. Personal contacts were already on users’ smart phones and came back into Google Contacts from there.
For Quickr places we moved the folders down to a workstation using the Quickr desktop synchronization and then back up to Google Drive using Google’s sync.
The biggest user concern was “what about when I’m on an airplane, in a taxi, in the client’s office, etc.” How would we live without local mail replicas? We make some use of Gmail Offline/Inbox but, in practice, the lack of a local mail replica became a non-issue very quickly.
What was harder to adjust to was the simpler mail and calendar implementation. While Google has addressed some of this over the past couple of years we still miss the sophistication of the various calendar options, true mail/calendar integration and the ability to resort your mail in multiple ways.
Gooogle is, predictably, committed to search as the way to find things.
We make a lot of use of “My Drive” sync in Google Drive. Most folks find this far easier to work with than Quickr Places – and it has the great advantage of working for our Macintosh users!
We found that the native tools on iOS and Android met our need without looking for an MDM to replace Traveller. We tell the device that the Google system is Exchange, as was true with Traveller in the beginning before Traveller support was explicitly added to the mobile OS.
We had very few Domino applications beyond those associated with CRM, and they were very simple. Even so, two years later I’m still using a custom Notes database I put together to manage inventory because replacing it seems like more work than it’s worth. I imagine it will just continue as a local database once we finally shut off the last Domino server. For now what had been the primary mail server is still running for the odd need to get into archival data.
Our experience with non-standard apps points to the real issue with moving away from Domino, as many, many recent posts by Domino developers address. I don’t mean to minimize those issues in any way by recounting our experience. But it’s shared for what it’s worth.