The Retirement of Lotus Notes Fred

Yes, the Lotus Notes procrastination syndrome is real. Too often, companies wait for too long to properly retire their old Lotus Notes applications and databases.

Legacy Systems and Application Retirement

In brief:

  • What: Companies often keep inactive Lotus Notes databases or backups for years.
  • So what: Delayed or incomplete migrations make your organization vulnerable to a variety of risks. Even old tapes and disks with data locked in NSF files pose a risk.
  • Now what: Don’t procrastinate. Take data retention seriously and use compliance archiving tools for Lotus Notes data. Retire legacy applications and databases.

I remember a client – let’s call him Fred – who reached out to us with a weary tone: “I wanna retire,” Fred said, “but I can’t.”

Fred was a seasoned IT professional with many years of experience under his belt, a good portion of which was managing the Lotus/IBM/HCL Notes and Domino infrastructure. 

His company had migrated off Lotus Notes many years ago, but for some reason – and you might be able to guess why – Fred couldn’t switch off his company’s last Domino server. Certainly not before record retention periods expire for all Domino data.

The problem was, Fred was the only person left in the company who could manage the Domino infrastructure.

Long story short, the company’s migration timeline might seem a bit weird and lengthy, but it’s nothing more than a typical pattern we’ve seen many times before. Here’s what Fred told us:

  • 2012: The company migrated email off IBM Domino. High fives! Fred did a great job!
  • 2013: First draft of the application migration plan was put together. “We’re almost there!” Fred helped a lot.
  • 2016: Data center consolidation. Sticky notes: “Don’t touch Fred’s VMs!”
  • 2018: IT rationalization. Layoffs. “Farewell, Fred!”
  • 2020: Microsoft Teams channel: “Which Lotus Notes apps are still in use?”
  • 2022: 10th anniversary of Domino’s official retirement. “Maybe we should upgrade to Domino 12 to buy some time?”
  • 2023: Fred is back. It’s good to see old teammates.

You might have known Fred. If you see him again, say hello to our friend, and ask him to tell you the story firsthand, in more detail. Such a migration rollercoaster!

What if you find yourself in a similar situation in your company? What if your “Fred” had left the company and you suddenly came across a bunch of legacy NSF databases or backups, but this time without the system that the databases could be restored on, and with no Fred to cover your back?

Long-term data retention makes sense only if your users can access and read the data when they need it – today as well as ten years from now, in accordance with your retention policy.

So, as soon as your company decides to stop investing in a platform, all inactive data has to be properly archived – not as proprietary NSF files, but as open-standard formats such as XML, JSON, HTML, and PDF.

Compliance archiving allows you to keep your historical data for as long as you need to, without the risks associated with legacy databases and applications.

So, there’s no excuse for putting it off any longer. Stop kicking the can down the road and let Fred finally retire.

Do you have a specific Notes application decommissioning or data archiving project you would like to discuss with us? Please send us your thoughts, comments or questions.

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