Ray Ozzie’s vision on Lotus Notes as a database with a loosely defined data schema with concepts of rich text, robust database programs and user-friendly programming interfaces has ensured that it is the most successful software product with a base of 80 million users. There are communities that bleed yellow and swear by Lotus Notes.

Yet, it is an accepted reality that when business expands, and data starts becoming huge, the need for speed and connectivity through different modes – via desktop, remote connections, mobiles and hand-held devices becomes a crucial factor to start thinking of migration to an RDBMS.

Before undertaking large scale legacy to RDBMS data migrations, there are 5 vital steps that you need to thrash out.

It is at the mapping stage that the differences between Lotus Notes (which is loosely structured ) and the RDBMS (which expects a clearly normalized data structure) start throwing up problems. For example you may need to work around to solve the issue that there is no clear CustomerAddressID to uniquely define the customer address in Notes. So, for a mapping of this nature, you will need to define 4 to 5 fields of the Address as unique in the RDBMS and auto generate the CustomerAddressID.

Moving data with date fields , currency fields and rich text fields needs special care .When Lotus Notes systems are developed over the years, more complexity gets introduced and more fields get added on. The field types could have changed over the years, and mapping could become a problem for older data. Hence there should be a comprehensive plan agreed upon with the customer on what to do in such a scenario.

Close on the heels where your actual data transfer for a unit is done, you need a well defined testing procedure to ensure that all relevant data has been migrated, since issues of data loss need to be clearly identified and corrected.