Lotus Notes 4.0 provides conversion challenge

Federal users looking to migrate from earlier versions of Lotus Development Corp.'s Notes to Notes 4.0 are in for a challenging task.

That is the opinion of a number of resellers and consultants experienced with Lotus' groupware product line. Accordingly, vendors are offering Notes 4.0 seminars and software tools to smooth the migration path. Notes 4.0, sporting an improved user interface and Internet capabilities among other features, started shipping last month [FCW, Jan. 22].

Ironically, one Notes 4.0 migration hurdle is also one of the product's assets: its new look and feel. Notes administrators, developers and users have a learning curve ahead of them, according to consultants.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's a new product," said Brian Beck, a manager with KPMG Peat Marwick, a Big Six consultancy. "The user interface is...radically changed."

"There's a big skills gap," added Chip Emmet, director of business applications at US Connect Washington Baltimore, McLean, Va. US Connect recently hosted a Notes 4.0 seminar and is now holding migration workshops for customers.

US Connect, Orange Systems Inc., Gaithersburg, Md., and The Future Now, Fairfax, Va., are among the area Notes resellers and consultants offering Notes 4.0 courses as Lotus Authorized Education Centers. For a complete listing of courses and LAECs, call the Lotus education hot line at (800) 346-6409. Information is also available via the Internet at http://www.lotus.com/laec/sched.htm.

Migrating Applications

The other key migration challenge is transplanting applications written for Notes 3.0 into a Notes 4.0 environment. While Notes 3.0 applications will run unmodified under Notes 4.0, those applications will not be able to make full use of Notes 4.0's enhanced capabilities, consultants said.

"Notes 3.0 applications will have to be modified to take advantage of Notes 4.0 features," said Ned Miller, vice president of sales and marketing at DLT Solutions Inc. "But migration tools are coming out."

A handful of Lotus 4.0 migration tools and methodologies were announced two weeks ago at Lotusphere, Lotus' annual product expo.

CleverSoft Inc., Portland, Maine, announced CleverManage for Lotus Notes, a systems management product that will allow Notes administrators to automatically—from a central location—distribute, install and configure Notes 4.0 client and server software. Administrators can install new clients and servers and/or migrate existing Notes 3.X clients and servers to Notes 4.0 CleverManage for Lotus Notes will be available in the first quarter of this year, the company said. The company plans to market CleverManage for Lotus Notes to federal agencies, according to Alex Bakman, president of CleverSoft.

Compupro Consulting Services, Atlanta, has unveiled a rapid application development methodology for migrating applications from Notes 3.0 to Notes 4.0. The methodology also helps determine what areas of training will be needed once the migration has been completed. KPMG Peat Marwick is also working on a Notes 4.0 migration methodology based on its internal migration efforts, Beck said.

Comp-Shooters Inc., Lake Mary, Fla., has announced Keynote, which is software that migrates electronic mail and word processing environments from Digital Equipment Corp.'s All-in-One to Lotus Notes and Word Pro.

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