Google Fishes for IBM Lotus Notes Users with New Migration Tool

Google introduces Google Apps Migration for Lotus Notes, a program designed to help users of the popular IBM Lotus Notes e-mail application move their mail, calendar and contacts to Gmail. The move marks the latest step in Google's quest to bring customers from IBM and Microsoft's legacy messaging and collaboration software to Google's cloud computing platform. Google also releases Calendar Labs.

Google continued its assault on the e-mail incumbents July 14, introducing a new database program to help users of the popular IBM Lotus Notes e-mail application move their mail, calendar and contacts to Google's Gmail application.

Google Apps Migration for Lotus Notes is actually a native Notes application, meaning it installs like a Lotus Notes application on a server and communicates with Google's data APIs. Once customers migrate their Lotus Notes data with the tool, Gmail will open Notes links in Lotus Notes, Google Apps Senior Product Manager Chris Vander Mey told eWEEK.

The tool, demonstrated in this video, is free for customers of Google Apps Premier Edition, which costs $50 per user, per year.

Other perks Google is promising with the tool include a centrally administered server-side migration process, so IT administrators can deploy multiple copies of the tool to offices around the world; no downtime, so users can continue to use Notes during the migration process; the ability to migrate 10 users simultaneously per server; and event logging to manage and monitor migration across any number of Lotus Domino servers and sites.

Fairchild Semiconductor, Hamilton Beach, JohnsonDiversey and Valeo (through Capgemini) are four of the 40 companies that have already used the Google Apps Migration for Lotus Notes application. Those four businesses moved nearly 50,000 Lotus Notes users to Google Apps.

The tool comes more than a month after Google on June 9 released Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook, a plug-in users add to their PCs that allows them access their Gmail Webmail, calendar and contacts through the Outlook interface. Google had a bit of trouble getting Google Apps Sync to play nice with Microsoft Outlook features, but has since ironed out the issues.

Vander Mey told eWEEK that the Lotus Notes and Microsoft Outlook migration tools presented different challenges for Google, and the Google Apps team will continue to improve both tools. He declined to discuss what other migration tools Google is working on.

These migration tools indicate Google's competitive desire to go after dominant e-mail incumbents Microsoft, with about 70 percent of the business e-mail market, and IBM, which commands 17 percent, according to Gartner. These giants have locked up the on-premises e-mail market for more than a decade. Google is trying to bring Microsoft and IBM customers into the cloud with promises of faster Web applications and cost savings.

Google hosts Google Apps on its own servers, so customers don't have to purchase additional servers to support the Web applications. And Google completed beta testing of Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs and Talk July 7, a move that should make the suite more attractive to businesses that have stayed away because the software still had the test tag.

Google July 14 also opened the door to Google Calendar Labs, a Web workshop where Google programmers will build new experimental features for the company's calendar application. When users sign into Calendar and click settings, they will see a new option for Labs.

Google is making its experimental Calendar features accessible there to users. In fact, there are already six new Labs features in the list, including Next Meeting, which shows users "how much time you have to procrastinate" before the next meeting; Free or Busy, which allows users to see which friends or colleagues are in meetings; and World Clock, which tracks different time zones for users who schedule meetings.

Google also released an experimental API to let programmers build Calendar features to better suit their business needs.

Google Calendar Labs comes more than a year after Google launched Gmail Labs, which went on to produce some two dozen features for users, including SMS (Short Message Service) chat, which has been disabled for three weeks; Canned Responses; and import tools that let users pull Google Docs and Calendar data into Gmail.

Google retired the Gmail Labs feature giving right-side labels on July 1, sparking an outcry from angry users. But Gmail Labs features can also graduate.