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Migrating Meeting Maker to Microsoft Exchange 2000

Looking to convert from a legacy Meeting Maker system to Exchange 2000?

While Microsoft has produced tools to migrate other legacy systems to Exchange 2000, Meeting Maker users have been out in the cold.  We've created a set of tools to move Meeting Maker servers to Exchange, and have found great interest in how this gets accomplished and what needs to go into the migration.

The following is a general outline of the kinds of preparation sites have used to successfully migrate their users from Meeting Maker to Exchange 2000.

First, a word on your choices

There are four alternatives for conversion from Meeting Maker to Exchange:

1.        Immediate cutover: this involves telling your users to print out their calendars and re-enter them in Outlook / Exchange as of a certain date.  This works well in small organizations or in organizations with a (relatively) few hardcore scheduling users.  For fewer than 100 users this tends to have few problems.  The biggest organization we saw do this had about 300 users, and that was accomplished with a certain amount of pain on the part of the user community and the IT staff.

2.        Synchronize to handhelds:  This is similar to the cut-over strategy above, but this works well if you have mainly APPOINTMENTS (what in Meeting Maker are called Activities), and not Meetings, since you lose all "live" meeting information.

3.        Stay with Meeting Maker: The usual reasons for this are an organization with a preponderance of Macintoshes and no desire to implement a Wintel-based Exchange server.  There are a few universities in this situation.

4.        Use the Sumatra Development tools and service: This allows you to migrate all data, with meetings as meetings including invitees, their responses, comments, and all live meeting information.

We've developed the following checklist and outline to aid in the migration process.

Part I:  Main Considerations

Organization size:  Generally organizations below 100 users find the changeover is straightforward.  They notify their users of the changeover date, and switch to Outlook/Exchange.  Needless to say, if converting data it's much faster when there are fewer users.  More users require additional advance planning.  It's like any other migration plan, the more you tell your user community about what is going to happen and when the higher their acceptance level and preparation.

Knowledge of Exchange:  Make sure your system admins are trained to manage Exchange servers.  The technology adoption pattern we have typically seen is similar to that in the growth of scheduling in general -- that email leads scheduling.  Thus, typically a firm will choose MS Exchange for Email and then want to coalesce legacy-scheduling systems into it.  This has the added benefit of allowing the admins to hone their knowledge of Exchange server architecture and configuration as a prelude to moving schedules.  Please note:  Microsoft has excellent tools for migrating the major legacy calendar systems (e.g., Novell's GroupWise, IBM/Lotus's Notes offering, and other less prominent ones).

Knowledge of Outlook: Your users can't be expected to lose Meeting Maker on one day and start Outlook the next day without training.  Make sure they know what's coming and how to do simple things -- like set up a meeting and invite guests. Simple things like this will go a long way towards generating end-user acceptance and satisfaction.

What can you already control?

You can use the MM Admin utility to export your user lists and groups and re-import them into Exchange.  It's far easier to handle it by this existing functionality than to re-invent it in a separate utility.

Part II:  The Actual Migration

How can you divide the stages of the actual migration?   

We summarize the stages of meetingmaker migration in Table A, below.

Table A:

Stages of meetingmaker Migration

Stage

Lead time

Time to accomplish

Extraction Testing

1 week

< 1 day

Insertion Testing

2-4 weeks (prep time to set up MS Exchange test environment)

About 1 day

Migration

2 weeks (small organization)

to

>2 months (large organization)

About 1 day, probably more for over 10,000 users.

The best thing to do is to proceed in Three Phases:

Phase 1:  Extraction Testing

Since Meeting Maker data has historically had support problems it is always best to check to make sure the data can be converted.  This is initially done by running through our conversion process and checking the resulting MS Access database.  Another way to look at Phase I is as the Meeting Maker data integrity test.  We cannot go into the kinds of problems that are sometimes found here -- suffice it to say they are tractable.

There are other actions you should take at this point:

         Getting your Exchange licenses in order

         Determining your Exchange architecture

         Deciding how Resources and Conference Rooms are going to be set up in Exchange, as public folders, or as Exchange users.

         Preparing your user community.  There are functions in Meeting Maker that are not in Exchange.  We've included a list in Table B, below.

Phase 1 is the hardest part -- with the assurance that your user's data CAN transfer to Exchange you've cleared the biggest unknown on the way to your migration goal.

Phase 2:  Insertion Testing

This involves setting up an actual separate Exchange server on which to perform an entire migration.    Think of it as a dress rehearsal for the actual migration.  Remember, if you had 300 MB of Meeting Maker data, it's going to translate into a similar amount of data in Exchange.

Timing:  Meeting Maker administrators may remember server data upgrades that proceeded over the course of several hours or a few days.   We've seen 200 MB of Meeting Maker data (for about 2000 users) convert in about two hours using our tools.  From this point we've seen it go into Exchange in 4-6 hours.

The good thing about a dress rehearsal is that you can perform it during regular business hours, since you're not having an impact on the production system.

Phase 3:  Conversion

Something implicit in all of this is that the changeover gets done all at once.  There is no such thing as an incremental "chunk" of Meeting Maker data.  This arises because of the way Meeting Maker data works: if the proposer of a meeting isnt converted, then his/her meeting will not show up in anyones calendar.  This poses a huge problem.  And you never want to force your organization to use two different (and incompatible) schedulers.

Since this means shutting your soon-to-be-retired Meeting Maker server, you need to do this after regular hours and preferably over a weekend.

This will actually implement the conversion from Meeting Maker to Exchange / Outlook. 

Be advised:

         All your users will need to have Outlook installed on their machines

         Make sure you've gone over the differences between Meeting Maker and Outlook / Exchange with your users

         Have a plan in place for uninstalling the Meeting Maker clients and any local data from your users machines.

It's a very straightforward process that we see more and more companies taking as the industry standardizes around the capability of Microsoft Exchange 2000 and Outlook.

Table B

Meeting Maker Function

Comparison with Microsoft Exchange 2000

Item

MM

Exch

Comments

Meeting agenda

MM Agenda inserted in the body of the Exchange meeting invitation.

Recurring Meetings

 

Recurring Meetings that fall on weekends/ holidays

Stored AS-IS. (Move from weekends skipped no Exchange capability)

Recurring Meetings with Exceptions

We do not associate exceptions with a recurring meeting since MM creates exceptions as separate, stand-alone "one time" meeting.

cc / bcc

Cc / bcc in MM map to "non-participating user" in outlook

Track Invitation response - accepted or declines

Accepts/declines invite. Deletes invitations from inbox

Track Invitation response - later, none

Keeps invitations in inbox.

Track Invitation response - "ccincal"

Accepts invitation. Deletes invite from inbox.

Comments

Optional. MM's Invitee's comments converted to email.

Meeting reminders

MM "Day of" alarm set to 12am.

User defaults/options

Not converted since Exchange defaults are more current

Timezones of meetings / activities

MM Version 6 set to single time zone; MM Version 7 set to UTC

Store Expired Meetings Activities/ Appointments

 

Groups

 

 

We do not export MM groups since Exchange groups may be more current.

Labels

 

No corresponding Exchange functionality

To-dos

 

Not transferred - under 1% of real-world MM usage

Contacts

 

Not transferred - used less than To-dos

Banners

 

No corresponding exchange functionality

About Sumatra Development LLC

Sumatra develops calendar conversion software. One of its products converts calendars stored in meetingmaker to Microsoft Exchange 2000 (see http://www.sumatra.com).

Copyright 2000-2002 Sumatra Development LLC. All rights reserved.

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