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IBM Lotus to Google Apps Migration Remorse: The story from a [reported] Google Apps customer
03/15/2010 04:00 PM by Chris Toohey
A while back (July 23, 2009), I posted a public response to David Hoff of Cloud Sherpas, who spoke of all of the joys and happiness afforded someone who migrates from IBM Lotus products to Google Apps. Of course, this was a competitive marketing piece in editorial's clothing... I mean, I'd rather hear from all of the amazing benefits resulting from a migration from Lotus Notes Domino to Google Apps from an actual customer...
Lucky me, this weekend I received the following email:
We are a recent convert from Notes/Domino to Google Apps. When I say recent, I mean we are in the process of converting over right now.
During the evaluation process, I could never get over the feeling we, as a company were making a huge mistake. I've been in the I.T. field since 1978 as a college freshman as a systems administrator/programmer to a network support tech/engineer and now the effective director for the department for [...].
During the evaluation process I only found one argument in favor of the move to Google apps. The high reliability of cloud computing. We are still a small and low margin company in several ways so we cannot afford the bandwidth and system requirements to have multiple AS/400s mirroring data for both the retail system and e-mail applications.
We put out RFPs to several companies. Cloud Sherpas was the only respondent. Meir Sasson and his team offered to help us, but were very insistent they know our budget for making the change up front. Meir told us he would need to fly in a team to get copies of our data and then develop custom apps to convert e-mail and other databases over to Google Apps. When we balked, he then suggested we take a go-it-alone approach and Sherpas would be there if we needed them. At the time, Google apps had a conversion utility on their we site for uploading Lotus Notes to Google apps. I had managed to make it work and uploaded my e-mail history to my personal account. That app has since been taken down. Two months later, David Hoff's blog was posted on Cloud Sherpas' web site.
I've been designing and managing e-mail systems for almost 20 years. I have never gone from an in house system to an outsourced one. Always the other way.
I have trust issues with Sherpas. First of all, blatant marketing material by employees being touted as factual revelations seems to be the ultimate conflict of interest. I don't know his history with Lotus Notes, I only know he's touting his own product as if he's a recent convert. He may have helped develop the front end or other utilities, but his credibility with me as a consumer is lost.
Secondly, any consulting company that wants to know budgeting for a project before the project is completely defined has suspect motives. I've worked for, and quickly left consulting companies that looked to the profit side of endeavors over really trying to help the customer. The final straw was a meeting I attended when the project manager stated we'll get them moving on the front end, then come back and fix things later for additional consulting fees. As an engineer, I thought the idea was to design and build things right the first time. Improvements were done to make things better for the next customer.
Third, I've read stories of e-mail administrators who abuse their position to snoop into e-mail accounts, then pass the information they find over to others. In many cases to the competition. Sherpas has access to the e-mail files as co-administrators. Based upon my conversations with their staff, I get the feeling some of their employees might just violate our trust.
Fourth, There are too many toys that will encourage our employees to do other things besides work. Chat is a great feature, but being able to regulate it to internals only is a must. The other "Labs" fall into the category of distractions than rather than usefulness. User customizations open the system to all sorts of abuse that admins cannot control. It requires good faith and trust that employees will actually abide by the company's acceptable use policy.
Fifth, There is no administrative structure. All admins are created equal in Google Apps. They can then download the security key and browse all user's e-mails. Their role as an admin may only be to create and delete users.
Sixth, Blackberrys are not directly supported by Google Apps.
Finally I have problems with the front end. Webmail programs are great when you are on the road and don't have your own computer. I don't like it for business environments. It doesn't look professional. Browser crashes close all instances of Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Chrome. More than 99% of e-mail users like a mail client. Notes, Outlook, Sea Monkey and Eudora give the user an easy interface to their e-mail. Users like a separate program for their e-mail. They all have two problems with webmail, timeouts and inadvertantly closing an e-mail to do a web search for supporting information. Offline e-mail clients don't have these problems.
I cannot help but feel we've made a big mistake. I don't put my name on something unless I'm 100% sure it will work and work well. Then my boss told me the driving factors are costs and reliability. He implies vendor Integrity doesn't seem to matter.
Hopefully we will be able to move back to something we like without damaging the perception we always act with the company's best interest in mind.
I feel really bad for J, and really bad for his customers. They've moved from an amazing platform and product family to something that was not -- as many people have said in the past -- enterprise-ready, and I think they'll find themselves suffering in the long run.
After an email exchange, J told me the following:
I tried to post my counter to the Top 10 Reasons on Sherpas' own web site but was blocked. I guess Sherpas doesn't like dissenting opinions.
I'm glad I could give J a voice here, which I hope can serve as a warning to anyone considering a migration: make sure you are 100% certain of what you're getting before you put Migrate to new enterprise messaging and application platform on your To Do List!