Notes to SharePoint?

by Glenn Boudreaux


Original article on LinkedIn Pulse.  Reprinted here for those who do not have a linked in account.  GW

Moving IBM Notes applications to Microsoft SharePoint is a very popular prospect at many companies these days.  Microsoft’s insistence about how easily SharePoint can transform your business has fueled many urban myths about what it can do.  One of the worst urban myths is about SharePoint being a robust application development platform.  What follows is my personal journey through this myth.

Executives at my former employer believed that we could easily modernize our older Notes applications by rewriting them on the SharePoint platform.  We attended many planning sessions with Microsoft and business partners.  Those meetings resulted in us following Microsoft’s recommendations to stand up a very robust and impressive SharePoint server farm.  Everything SharePoint was working great, so we supplied executives and other users with templates to create their own document libraries, project collaboration sites, etc.

With SharePoint working as expected, it was time to select a Notes application to migrate.  It was decided that a simple Notes shipping application would perfect as the first thing to move to SharePoint.  Our shipping application was very simple and each Notes document included the obvious fields for “To” and “From” addresses, invoice number, manifest list, attached files, simple approval matrix, and the ability to print labels.  A team of four developers, including myself, was assigned to recreating this in SharePoint.  My task was to export the document details to SQL database records and copy associated file attachments to a network directory share.

The original Notes shipping application probably took 1-month to develop, test, and deploy.  The SharePoint application was estimated to be a 3-month project, but difficulties in writing the approval matrix pushed the project out to 6-months.  The SharePoint developers successfully tested the new application and were confident it was ready for production.  During our deployment weekend, approximately 80,000 Notes documents were exported to SQL where SharePoint could easily import those records.  The new application was successfully deployed and everyone went his and her way to enjoy the weekend.

On Monday morning everyone was excited to use our new SharePoint shipping application.  The team initially received praise and everybody was happy.  But soon came a flood of complaints about how slow and sluggish the application had become.  Before the end of the day the application was taken offline with everyone trying to diagnose why our robust SharePoint platform was performing so poorly.  Management decided to go back to using the Notes application.

Our research discovered something about SharePoint that was overlooked…the fact that a SharePoint list can only handle about 10,000 records before performance is severely impacted.  How can a platform that can only handle 10,000 records be considered enterprise ready?

The team was ordered to fix the application.  The only way to make that possible was to rewrite it as a .NET web application using SQL for its backend database.  Three months later…the team successfully deployed a new .NET web application that performed very well…but at a high cost with little ROI.

SharePoint is a decent collaboration tool, but it is not a platform for everything.  Beware of the urban myths and do your research before choosing SharePoint as an application development platform.