CIO Symmetry

May 28 2009   6:23PM GMT

Update on move to Gmail: Cost-cutting measure a mix of sun and clouds

Linda Tucci Linda Tucci Profile: Linda Tucci

I checked in with early cloud adopter Jerry Hodge, CIO of Hamilton Beach Brands Inc., for an update on his pioneering migration from Lotus Notes to Gmail — the quintessential cloud app. The company, which started the project in January, is among the first ever to move to Gmail from Lotus, according to Hodge.

The backstory: Hamilton Beach was facing a mandatory upgrade of Lotus Notes that would have required not only the expense of the software upgrade, but also additional hardware and considerable staff effort. Hodge realized he could save about $500,000 in capital and operating costs over five years, and another $400,000 in labor if he went with the enterprise edition of Gmail.

In a year when his capital budget request was cut 60%, saving a million bucks seemed like a great idea, despite some trepidation on the part of his staff. He made the big switch the right way– gradually. He lined up a test group in the company’s Mexico City and China offices to try it first to work out the kinks, and he smartly waited until everything was working before the C-suite got it. People’s email would be maintained as @hamiltonbeach.com, which was important to the company.

So how did it go?

The good news is the move to Gmail came in ahead of schedule, on April 30, two months ahead of the June 30 deadline.

“Unheard of!,” Hodge crowed in an email, giving kudos to his hardworking staff.

The bad news is there were a couple of hiccups. For example, at least half the attachments in some parts of the company email did not get transferred in the move to Gmail. After running the email through the transition process two times, IT got most of them. The other wrinkle was people’s contacts lists — Hodge’s staff had to do the lists by hand mostly to get them over.

“Our best success was achieved when exporting contacts to a CSV format and importing them into Google — but they had to be done one by one,” Hodge reported.

His biggest headache, in retrospect?

“I would have to go with the repeatability/consistency of the automated migration tools. We knew up front that we were one of the ‘early adopters’ for migrating from Lotus Notes to Google. We were patient, but still frustrated,” Hodge said, but added this comes with the territory of being an early adopter.

3  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Cigarguy
    If they came in 2 months ahead of schedule, there couldn't have been too many wrinkles, or any major problems with the migration. If they're saving 900K per year, that sounds like a major success story to me.
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  • Cerobinson
    They may have come in two months ahead of schedule, but what you omitted was they spent seven months on it overall. Seven months to migrate mail for 500 users sounds like a death march, not a victory. Also, they are [B]not[B] claiming $900K [I]per year[/I] in savings. That's their estimated savings over [B]five years[/B]. That's $500,000 in capital and operating costs and another $400,000 in labor over five years. What very few of these reports has made clear is that even after Hamilton Beach migrated their Lotus Notes mail to GMail, they still have Domino servers for applications. That means they still need Domino servers and staff to support them, and they still need to upgrade these servers to the newer release to maintain support. So what are the real numbers? Lotus Notes for 500 users will come in no more than $50,000. Lotus Domino Enterprise for 10 servers -- I don't know how many Hamilton Beach has, but that should be more than enough -- will come in at around $25,000. That's $75,000 per year for Notes and Domino licensing, which I agree isn't exactly chump change but that's a worst case scenario. Google Apps Enterprise is $50 per user, or $25,000 for 500 users. That leaves a licensing gap of $50,000, but keep in mind that Hamilton Beach still needs Domino servers and Notes licenses so they still have to pay that licensing cost. The most they could have done is decommission their mail servers, but they only needed two for 500 users and that's only if they have them clustered (and it doesn't sound like they did). That's $5,000 for licensing plus the hardware savings. None of the labor savings can be realized since they're still using Domino. If you add the Domino licensing and two servers amortized over five years I figure Hamilton Beach will realize savings of at most $7,000/yr. If you expand the topology and assume they have five field offices with mail servers, and each office has two servers clustered, that's still only $35,000/yr. Adding back in the $25,000 they're now spending on Google Enterprise they're only saving $10K/yr, but it's most likely costing them [B]MORE[/B]! The $180K/yr they are claiming is only achievable when you include a huge swath of expenses that weren't really eliminated. So for a net savings of at most $10,000 per year they spent seven months doing a migration to a new mail system. They still have go to through the Domino and Notes upgrade, they still have to pay for the Notes and Domino licensing, and they still need all the same staff. Does that sound like it's worth the hassle? I'm not saying the migration was a pure political play with no real ROI, I'm just saying the numbers do not add up and the claims being made cannot possibly be correct based on the information Hamilton Beach has provided. Until I see something that says otherwise I'm calling BS on it.
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  • Petetm
    "but also additional hardware and considerable staff effort." Apparently they didn't have anyone there who really knew Notes/Domino. The effort to upgrade 500 users and servers can be done by one person ........ PART TIME !!!
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