Escaping Vendor Lock-in: Life After Microsoft Exchange

Understanding the Sun Groupware Migration Toolkit and Methodology

To migrate from Microsoft Exchange 5.5 (and other groupware services) to the Sun Java System Communications Services platform, Sun provides you with the Sun Groupware Migration Toolkit and Methodology (SGMT). SGMT is not limited to the 5.5 version of Microsoft Exchange, nor to Exchange itself. In particular, SGMT currently covers MS Exchange 2000 and 2003, and Critical Path migration. To keep this document from becoming overly long, the discussion has been restricted to the Microsoft Exchange 5.5 use case.

Sun's methodology allows, by design, a safe migration project with no surprises, as long as it is fully developed. It covers step by step all solution aspects, not just the data migration per se. The methodology includes simulations and analysis before you attempt to run the actual migration. The methodology also enables you to implement several scenarios, in particular the online migration model with coexistence.

Migration and Coexistence Principles and Design

In the context of this document, the words migration and coexistence have precise meanings. Migration refers to the data migration of end users, in an offline or online mode, but can just as well refer to the project itself. Coexistence, which means you are running both Microsoft and Sun Java System platforms together, comes into play for an online migration. In this mode, you need coexistence of your system being migrated and the new system being migrated to. To summarize:

Figure 2 illustrates the offline model.

Figure 2 Offline Migration

This diagram shows how the source Microsoft Exchange service
is put into an offline status.

Figure 2 shows how the source Microsoft Exchange service is put into an offline status. Clients are no longer able to access this service while the migration takes place. When access is restored, it is only to the new Sun Java System Communications Services service.

Figure 3 illustrates the online model.

Figure 3 Online Migration

This diagram shows how migration occurs with active users.

Figure 3 shows that migration occurs with users active, and in the presence of coexistence between the old and new platforms.

Most customers prefer an online migration model. However, if costs are a concern and if the source systems support a small amount of users with small data sets, you should consider offline migration.

In the online model, the source service is never stopped while end users are being migrated to the new platform, thus no service interruption occurs. For both the Microsoft and Sun Java System platforms to coexist while the migration of the users occurs, a coexistence model is necessary. This coexistence model covers such aspects as user and group directory level synchronization, password synchronization or just re-initialization, and the delivery of mail messages to their correct destination, including routing of the internal Microsoft Exchange 5.5 message flow.

How the SGMT Toolkit Works

When you perform the actual migration, the migration toolkit makes for easy selection of users and dispatching them in the migration technical workflow. The following figure presents a high-level view of how the migration works for the various protocols involved.

Figure 4 Migration Process and Protocols

This diagram shows a high-level view of how the migration works
for the various protocols involved.

The toolkit itself performs the following actions:

On a per user basis, the toolkit performs the following actions when the actual migration runs:

More About MAPI to MAPI Migration

Unlike mail, which uses the IMAP protocol, the only way to currently read and migrate calendar, task, contact, notes, and journal data is by using the MAPI standard. The Sun toolkit makes use of two MAPI implementations to accomplish the task of migrating this kind of information.

First, the toolkit uses the MAPI implementation for Microsoft Exchange that transforms any MAPI call into Microsoft Exchange RPC accesses to the Microsoft Exchange server. Second, the toolkit uses a MAPI library to transform the call into the appropriate IMAP, WCAP, WABP, or LDAP call depending on the different Sun Java System server involved.

In principle, to migrate calendar, tasks, contacts, notes, and journal data, a MAPICopy program walks through each object in each folder to:

  1. Perform a 'MAPI Copy' of the object from the interface

  2. Read the data from Microsoft Exchange

  3. Perform a 'MAPI Paste' of the object on the interface

  4. Copy the data to the Sun Java System servers with the appropriate protocols

The MAPICopy program works without changing anything in the migrated object because the object remains the same in an homogeneous MAPI context.

Figure 5 illustrates how the MAPICopy program takes objects from the source platform and transfers them to the target platform.

Figure 5 MAPICopy Program

This diagram shows how the MAPICopy program takes objects from
the source platform and transfers them to the target platform.

Items the SGMT Toolkit Cannot Migrate

Currently, the toolkit cannot migrate the following:

What Factors Impact Migration?

There are no particular restrictions for migration. However, experience has shown that not all formats are appropriate to every situation. There are many aspects of a migration to consider that can influence whether to use an offline or online model, whether to leverage Sun partners, and so on. Consider the following factors when determining your migration:

There is no single answer to cover all of these situations. As such, Sun and its partners take the time upfront during a two-day workshop to assess the particulars of your organization to arrive at the correct way to handle your migration. See Workshop Phase (Validate Architecture and Methods) for more information.

Addressing Typical Migration Concerns

Within IT computing, migration projects tend to be the most difficult, as they often encompass heterogeneous deployments. Groupware services are no exception. A few years ago, messaging services were categorized as mission critical, and today this is even more so, as you must account for calendaring and address book services as well.

Sun is perfectly aware of the obstacles presented by migration projects. Sun's migration solution is designed to remove typical migration concerns, as explained in the following sections.

Providing for a Safe Migration

The migration process needs to occur safely and present little if any risk to your data. Sun's migration process provides a proven methodology and toolkit that enable you to prepare everything before running the actual migration. In particular, the toolkit scans all objects in the directory server, scans all mail messages in the concept of a meta store, rebuilds messaging statistics, simulates the new disk and user allocation, and collects data on how long the migration will take-all in a non-intrusive mode. Overall, the migration process includes many best practices that were designed to provide for a successful migration.

Ensuring End User Satisfaction

In the context of a Microsoft Exchange migration, the user experience with Microsoft Outlook must not change. Sun Java System Connector for Outlook works seamlessly with the Outlook client to provide the experience with which end users are familiar. The back-end server migration will be transparent to end users.

Complying with and Enforcing Security Policies

Sun's migration toolkit comes with documentation that can help you understand security on the new target system. This documentation enables project leaders to review the security during the migration and also to understand the access control lists (ACL) remappings for mail folders between non-standard Microsoft Exchange capabilities and the standard IMAP ACL normalized model that is implemented in the Sun solution.

Preventing Transcoding of Data

The migration process prevents transcoding of any data content during the migration. You want this kind of behavior from a migration, in case legal issues arise later. As a company, you might need to be able to present evidence showing that your data was not modified during the migration. The Sun toolkit does not modify your data in any way, except where some Microsoft Exchange messages are not RFC 822 compliant, and thus need to be repaired.

Keeping Migration Cost Low

Sun wants to make it as easy as possible for customers and partners to migrate. Sun also wants to make the service side of the cost as small as possible. Thus, there is no `per user' cost for its migration toolkit.

Keeping Message Storage Requirements the Same

You do not need to increase your storage requirements as a result of the migration. The Sun Java System Messaging Server Message Store uses a single-copy store methodology that is fully functional with migrated messages. For more information, see Appendix A, Appendix.

Keeping User Passwords the Same

With the Sun migration tool, there is no need to discover or “hack” user passwords, change them, or require users to change their passwords after the migration. Additionally, the migration tool itself does not need to know the passwords to accomplish its work.

Note –

Sun estimates that upwards of 50 percent of a company's internal support calls involve user passwords. Forcing users to change passwords as part of a migration strategy would severely impact a company's help desk. This would also have many other potentially harmful side effects, as passwords can be used in other areas, such as for single sign on access and for batch processing.

Ensuring Coexistence

Coexistence is ensured by synchronizing the Microsoft Exchange and the Sun platforms. This means that the Sun toolkit treats the coexistence issues up to a certain point, in particular with the following components:

Making the Migration Simple

Sun's experience with real-world migrations has shown that once you have completed all the necessary upfront planning, analysis, and configuration, a migration does not need to be carried out by the most technical of a company's support personnel. With a minimum of training, your operators should be able to accomplish the actual migration steps. In practice, where you should spend time to smooth the migration is by:

Keeping Migration Time to a Minimum

In general, the Sun migration tool only needs five to ten minutes to migrate a normal user's actual data. The real migration bottlenecks occur in the following order:

  1. Microsoft Exchange is the first bottleneck. In particular, Microsoft Exchange 5.5 on Windows NT 4 has several design issues that slow down the migration.

  2. The second bottleneck can be your network.

  3. The third bottleneck can be the migration machine if it is under-sized.

  4. A real bottleneck is the capability of your help desk and the support team to correctly deploy Sun Java System Connector for Microsoft Outlook on to the user's desktop. This requires:

    • Configuration at the site level for Connector for Microsoft Outlook.

    • Delivery and deployment of the pre-configured Connector for Microsoft Outlook to the user's desktop. Such delivery requires a additional software in place at your organization, such as Microsoft SMS, or tools such as Alterys.

    • Modification of the desktop login sequence to ensure that the Connector for Microsoft Outlook is synchronized for the first time, just after the user migration has occurred on the back end.

Managing Personal Folder (.pst) Files

Personal folder (.pst) files may or may not be an issue for your organization. If the goal is to recentralize end user's .pst files onto the new target system, it might be reasonable to propose the relocation of .pst files on the new platform as part of the migration.

One potential solution is for end users to upload their .pst files (in non-encrypted form) to a shared file system before the migration takes place. Operators performing the migration reload the .pst files in a special place of a slave Microsoft Exchange server and apply the migration tool with a special mode. End users then receive their .pst files in an `archive' folder hierarchy, which is printable and lists folders in a special area of the Messaging Server.

Other alternatives are possible. Consult with your Sun representative for more information.