In the Daily Drill Down “Planning your Lotus Domino/Notes to Exchange 2000 migration,” I outlined some of the basic preparations you need to make before you can move your Lotus Notes installation over to Exchange 2000. But you’re probably wondering how you actually make the move. What’s involved and how does it work? In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll show you how to migrate your Lotus Notes server to Exchange 2000 using the Exchange Server Migration Wizard.

A quick note about Notes

When Lotus first shipped Domino/Notes, it called both the client and server versions of its groupware package Lotus Notes. Currently, Domino refers to the server package, which actually maintains the mail databases and other groupware applications. Notes stands for the client software. For the rest of this Daily Drill Down to keep things simple, I’ll refer to both packages as just Notes.

What’s going to move and what isn’t?
In a perfect world, when you migrate software, everything moves without a hitch and you don’t lose data in the process. Unfortunately, it’s difficult enough migrating from one version of a Microsoft product to another, so you can imagine the difficulty of going from something like Lotus Notes to Exchange 2000.

Exchange uses the Exchange Server Migration Wizard to migrate users and messages from Notes databases to your Exchange server. Most things will move with little problem, but there are a few exceptions. The Exchange Server Migration Wizard will migrate the following:

  • Document links: If there are any document links embedded in messages, you can convert them to URL shortcuts, OLE attachments, or RTF attachments.
  • Group scheduling: The Migration Wizard will migrate the calendar, including appointments, notes, and tasks. Tell your Notes users to accept or decline all pending meeting requests before you run the Migration Wizard. The Migration Wizard turns pending meeting requests into text messages during migration, forcing users to manually add the appointments to the calendar later.
  • Messages: The Migration Wizard moves e-mail, phone, and discussion messages. If a message has an attachment, the Migration Wizard will move the attachment intact. One thing to be aware of is that if users have any unsent messages specified for delayed delivery, the Migration Wizard will migrate them as sent items in Outlook.
  • Users: If you have users in your Notes database that don’t exist in Active Directory, you can use the Migration Wizard to help move users from Notes to Active Directory.

Unfortunately, the Migration Wizard can’t move everything. There are some things the Migration Wizard can’t handle, including custom applications and encrypted messages. If you have custom applications, you can try to convert them using the Exchange Application Converter For Lotus Notes. However, don’t expect great success and do plan on some recoding to make things work. You may also be able to use public folders and custom forms to substitute for the custom applications.

If your users have encrypted messages in their database, you’re completely out of luck. The Migration Wizard can’t convert or migrate them at all because the wizard can’t access the Notes private keys that Notes uses to encrypt and decrypt messages.

Last-minute checks
After you’ve made the basic preparations mentioned in the previous Daily Drill Down, there are only a few additional things you need to check. First, you need to install a copy of the Lotus Notes client on the server where you’re going to run the Exchange Server Migration Wizard. That’s because the Wizard will be using some of the files associated with the client to make the migration. When you install the client, configure it to access the mailbox for the Notes administrator or a Notes user that has Reader rights to the Notes database.

Next, if you’re using the Lotus Notes Connector to communicate between your Exchange 2000 server and your Notes server, you need to stop the connector service. To do so, click Start | Programs | Administrative Tools | Services. When the Services MMC starts, find the Connector For Lotus Notes service, right-click it, and select Stop. If you don’t stop the connector before migrating your Notes users, you may have problems when Active Directory and Notes synchronize directories after the migration.

After that, make sure you have your users clear out their old messages as much as possible. As you can probably guess, the fewer messages the wizard has to migrate, the fewer problems you’ll encounter and the faster things will go.

You should also make sure you clear out any users in your Notes database who are no longer with the company. Although you’re probably doing it as a natural course of business to maintain security, if you haven’t done so in a while, now is a good time.

Finally, make sure all of your Lotus Notes users have closed their clients and have logged off. Nobody should be using Notes during this process.

Running the wizard
To run the wizard, click Start | Programs | Microsoft Exchange | Migration Wizard. You’ll see a quick welcome screen that you can bypass by clicking Next. You’ll then see the Migration screen. This screen lists all of the different migrations the wizard will assist you with. Some of the choices include:

  • Lotus cc:Mail
  • MS Mail
  • Novell GroupWise 4.x
  • Novell GroupWise 5.x
  • IMAP4

Because we’re concerned with Lotus Notes, select Migrate From Lotus Notes and click Next. The Migration Wizard will display a screen reminding you of some of the prerequisites to making the migration. Click Next to continue.

You’ll next see the Migration Procedure screen. You have two choices here. You can either do a one-step migration by selecting the One-Step Migration radio button or a phased migration by selecting the Extract Migration Files Only radio button.

You should do the one-step migration unless you need to review the migration files before continuing. If you select Extract Migration Files Only, after you review the migration files, you can restart the Migration Wizard and then import the migration files. For the purposes of this Daily Drill Down, we’re just going to do a one-step migration. Click Next to continue.

You’ll see the Migration Destination screen appear, as shown in Figure A. The Migration Wizard will automatically fill in the Exchange servers and information stores you can use as a target for the migration. If you have more than one Exchange 2000 server, you can select a different one by choosing it from the Server drop-down list box. Likewise, you can choose different stores by selecting them from the Information Store drop-down list box. Make your selections and click Next to continue.

Figure A
You can choose which server to migrate your Lotus database to.

You’ll then see the Access Information screen. Here, you’ll supply the information that the Wizard needs to access the Lotus Notes database. In the Notes.ini field, enter the path to your Lotus Notes client with the Notes.ini file. If you don’t know exactly where this is, you can click the Browse button and search until you find it. In the User ID field, you’ll enter the name of the user ID associated with the selected Notes.ini file. This user ID should be one that is an administrator or at least has read rights to every file in the database. Finally, in the password field, you must enter the password for the user ID. Don’t forget that Lotus Notes passwords are case-sensitive. Click Next after you’ve entered all of the information.

The Hierarchical Name screen will then appear. On this screen, you’ll select the Lotus Notes server you want to migrate. If you have more than one Notes server in your organization, you’ll have to select and migrate them one at a time. Pick the server that you want to migrate from the Hierarchical Name list box and click Next to continue.

You’ll then see the Migration Information screen, shown in Figure B. On this screen, you can control what information flows from the Notes server to your Exchange server. You can import everything or select bits and pieces to move. For example, if you don’t want to migrate all of the messages in the Notes database, you can selected the Dated From radio button in the Personal E-mail Messages box and then specify a start and end date range. Click Next after you’ve made your selections.

When you select the Information to Create Mailboxes check box, Migration Wizard will create user objects if it can’t automatically find a user object in Active Directory during the migration. Additionally, if the Notes directory contains information not already present in Active Directory, the Wizard automatically migrates it to Active Directory. The Migration Wizard won’t overwrite existing Active Directory information. Only blank fields or multivalue fields are populated.

If a user object does not have a mailbox, the Migration Wizard will create it. If the Migration Wizard detects a contact object in the Notes database, the Migration Wizard will create user objects based on the contact information.

If you don’t want to create new users, deselect the Information To Create Mailboxes check box. If you do this, the Wizard will migrate only existing user objects, and it won’t create new users in Active Directory or convert contacts to users.

Figure B
You can customize the information you migrate from your Notes server.

You’ll next see the Account Migration screen. This screen lists all of the users in your Notes database. If you want to migrate all of your users, click Select All. You can also pick and choose whom you want by scrolling through the list of users and selecting them one by one. After you’ve selected the users, click Next to continue.

Next, you’ll see the Container For New Windows Accounts screen. Here, you’ll select the target container for the Lotus Notes user objects to migrate to. You can navigate through the tree structure until you find the proper container.

If you click the Options button, you’ll see the Account Creation Options screen. On this screen, you can control some of the additional password options for user objects. You can set the password to match users’ login IDs or create random passwords. You can also force users to change their password the next time they log in. However, be aware that if you’ve set a security policy on your server to enforce strong passwords, the Use Windows Account Name option won’t work.

After you’ve selected the target container and set any special password options, you can continue by clicking Next.

You’ll see the Windows Account Creation And Association screen, where you can match up Notes mailboxes to Windows 2000 accounts. The Migration Wizard will attempt to match up the closest accounts for the mailboxes it finds, but it may miss a few. You can find an account to match a blank mailbox or create a new account. Match up all of your mailboxes and click Next.

The migration will then begin. The amount of time this process takes will vary depending on the size of your Notes database, the speed of your servers, and the speed of the network connection between them. You can observe the process on the Migration Progress screen. It will show you how many users and messages it migrates and any errors it encounters along the way. After the migration finishes, click Finish.

Migrating from one software platform to another can be a time-consuming and troublesome process. Knowing in advance what you’re in for can minimize some of the headaches you’ll encounter. Microsoft has done a good job with the Exchange Server Migration Wizard, but it’s not perfect. You may want to do a migration in a test environment before diving directly into a production environment.