Binary Tree Migrates Notes E-Mail to Google with New Product
January 13, 2009 Alex Woodie
Organizations that are looking to save money by moving from a Lotus Notes e-mail system to a Google-based e-mail system may want to check out the new CMT for Google Apps product launched by Binary Tree last week. The product, which is a specialized version of its Common Migration Tool (CMT) platform, automates much of the work of migrating Notes e-mail inboxes and account information to the hosted Google platform, and helps to ensure a smooth transition.
While IBM‘s Notes and Microsoft‘s Exchange (and Novell‘s Groupwise, to a lesser extent) continue to slug it out for domination in the enterprise collaboration market, Google has been gradually creeping up from the small and mid size business (SMB) space to challenge the big boys with its hosted suite of collaboration tools, known as Google Apps.
The fully tricked out version of Google Apps, known as the Premier Edition, delivers a repertoire that includes Gmail with a 25 GB of storage per mailbox; a shared calendaring product called Google Calendar; instant messaging and voice over IP (VOIP) via Google Talk; Google Docs and Spreadsheets; a team Web site creation and publishing product called Google Sites; Google Video; and Google Security and Compliance. What’s more, Google Apps requires no dedicated hardware, is delivered via the software as a service (SaaS) method, carries a service level agreement (SLA) guaranteeing 99.9 percent uptime, has APIs for integration and single sign-on, and includes phone support for critical issues.
When you consider that you get all this for just $50 per user per year, it’s easy to see that Google Apps will provide a compelling alternative to running an in-house messaging system for some companies. And when you factor in the poor economy and the fact that many companies are looking for ways to cut their IT spending, Google could be in line to do quite well with its Google Apps.
But any churn in the marketplace is good news for Binary Tree, a New Jersey-based company that has been developing add-on and support products for the Notes-Domino platform (as well as Office Vision replacement solutions for the AS/400) since it was founded in 1993. The company does not take sides in the larger battle for collaboration supremacy, and is more than happy to accommodate customers’ needs for assessing, integrating, or migrating their messaging systems–no matter which platform they’re moving to or moving from.
Bob Balaban, vice president of research and development for Binary Tree, uses this analogy to explain the company’s position. “We’re not real estate agents. We’re not going to try to sell you a new house. But if you are buying a new house, we want to be your piano movers.”
In many ways, migrating from one e-mail system to another is akin to moving a piano. It’s not something that one does at the spur of the moment. Careful planning and forethought are requirements for avoiding pitfalls. Binary Tree has been providing tools for migrating users to and from Notes, Exchange, and Groupwise for years, but it has never supported Google Apps.
Other companies have written migration tools for moving from Exchange to Google Apps, but Balaban was not aware of any tools for migrating from Notes to Google Apps, so the company developed one, but only after some gentle prodding from the Google-ites. “They spent some effort convincing us there was a pipeline there, and they would be generating business for us,” Balaban says. “They put us in front of some customers.”
Binary Tree’s CMT for Google Apps product does a lot of the prep work involved in migrating large Notes environments, and helps minimize any complications that can come up, Balaban says. “It’s one thing to go to Google.com and set yourself up a Gmail account. But it’s another thing to do it for 50,000 users,” he says. “It’s not the kind of thing where you can parachute in a box, push a button, and voila you have migration. It takes a certain amount of planning and setup.”
The software is focused around the actual moving of the bits, he says. “We collect info on what users and mailboxes are to be migrated. The tool builds a mapping of Notes mailbox to Google account, validates that the Notes mailbox is reachable, checks it for encrypted messages, and other things that are going to be a problem if you don’t do something about it. There are page after page of details that we have to take care of to make it worthwhile, so at the end, you have mail you can actually use.”
One of the most time-consuming aspects of moving to Google-based e-mail is the actual moving of mailboxes. Some mailboxes may have many gigabytes of messages and attachments, and uploading that securely over the Internet can take a long time if you don’t have a fast Internet connection.
Another factor Notes users must consider is what they will do with all of the messaging-enabled applications they have hooked up to their Notes e-mail systems. Connecting those systems to Gmail instead of Notes requires some extra work to get it right. Balaban expects many companies will continue to use their Notes system alongside the new Google Apps system, a co-existence strategy. He says Binary Tree will update its CMT tool to support co-existence sometime in the first quarter of 2009.
CMT will get support for account provisioning in the future. Version 1 requires that users do their own Gmail account provisioning.
CMT for Google Apps version 1 is available now. Licenses are priced by the mailbox, and cost in the low double-digits per mailbox, according to Balaban, who does not work in sales and, understandably, fears upsetting his sales director by quoting inaccurate numbers to the press. For more information and pricing, check in with Binary Tree at www.binarytree.com.