Damien Katz: Migrating Notes/Domino to CouchDB

by Volker Weber

I've been talking to some IT shops who are migrating away from Lotus Notes and Domino. ... The problem these IT shops face is they don't have many good options to migrate to. Sharepoint works for very generic collaborative activities, but not so much for custom business apps that are so pervasive in large Notes installs. That doesn't mean people don't try.

So these IT shops are interested in migrating to Apache CouchDB for obvious reasons. CouchDB is largely inspired by the Lotus Notes backend. CouchDB has a document database, peer based replication, views, full text indexing add-ons, security, and HTTP client access. It also has a very active and growing open source community.

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"I've been talking to some IT shops who are migrating away from Lotus Notes and Domino. ... The problem these IT shops face is they don't have many good options to migrate to."

Hello? Why are they migrating in the first place? *sigh*

Dirk Rose, 2010-02-20

Because they can. The Domino community does not accept any reason for a migration anyway, the rest can be read here (10 common beliefs in the Domino community).

Henning Heinz, 2010-02-20

It's just churning. Makes lots of money for consultants/BPs. Doesn't add business value. Happens in all walks of life, from financial services to software/computer services. Someone hits the sweet spot of a C level executive and they're sold, immaterial that the business as a whole receives no discernible benefits.

Robert Laing, 2010-02-21

@Robert: I hope you're wrong - and that there can be many very legitimate and well thought-through reasons for a migration to a new data management system.
That said, I do have one client that is wanting to 'churn' constantly whenever a new bit of technology comes over the horizon, and try to get me to become complicit in the process; which I have so far refused to do!

Nick Daisley, 2010-02-21

@Henning - IT as such does not generate any revenue (unless you sell it). It is supporting the Business and supposed to do so at an optimal cost/benefit ratio. An increase of that ratio is the only valid reason to justify the inherent risk of pro-actively changing your IT landscape.

I do not question Domino->Exchange migrations at all. Maybe that's just my way of reading it, but it sounded like these shops had taken the decision to move out prior to understanding the alternatives. How do they know that they improve?

Dirk Rose, 2010-02-21

For many IT people a data base system without pointers sounded like pure nonsense.

It is my firm believe that one of the biggest mistakes IBM made with Lotus is/was that they never clearly communicated the strength AND the weaknesses of the nsf concept. It was always hidden behind this people software talking as if IBM itself had been ashamed of the poor engine inside.

If I remember right, Damien provided some years ago as a reason for starting CouchDB something like: "Notes is a wonderful concept but at Lotus development they do not understand and do not like it anymore".

And now look what happens right now: Damian with his tiny start-up gets the ink in IT magazines and blogs for free. There is almost a little hype around CouchDBs new and interesting "Non-SQL" concept.

When was it the last time you read similar articles about nsf databases in the IT press?

Lucius Bobikiewicz, 2010-02-22

I ought to do a post on some reasons I've seen organizations move off of Notes/Domino. Two reasons I've run into lately are: 1) There's no one in our area that does Lotus Notes and Domino, and 2) Our back-end systems do not support Lotus Notes.

The first item could be seen as a lack of knowledge of the IBM Business Partner area on IBM.com (besides, would you send someone to that site?). You could even go so far as to say that it is a lack of presence of an IBM representative in the organization.

The second item seems to be more prevalent. "We just started using a new accounting/payroll/customer relationship manager and all of the documentation talks about Outlook. There is nothing about Lotus Notes." So, if these organizations never see an IBM rep, or a Business Partner, and have no internal Lotus evangelist and their new system talks only of Outlook, why should they stay? Staying on an unsupported messaging system seems counter productive.

Gregg Eldred, 2010-02-22

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