Although I will actually have some downtime on Labor Day itself (Monday), I spent Friday night, all day Saturday, and part of Sunday working hard on an e-mail migration for a small business customer of mine. And it’s still not complete. Functional, but not complete.

I’m becoming a one-man e-mail migration maven, as I’ve got so many migrations under my belt I’ve lost count. This includes Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2003 migrations in a large corporate setting, as well as POP mail to hosted Exchange migrations for some of my small business customers. I thought this one would be as easy as the others. Actually, the e-mail part did go smoothly, at least on the back-end. The customer’s ISP updated their MX record to point to the hosted Exchange server at Intermedia.net right on schedule Friday evening. I’m used to handling the MX record changes myself, but their ISP didn’t have a Web interface for that, so I had to submit the request to their hostmaster via e-mail.

After I tested mail flow, I contacted two of the folks in this five-person business (three partners, plus two office staffers) to get each of their Outlook 2003 installations reconfigured via a Copilot remote session. I set up their Outlooks for Exchange, and then migrated messages previously stored in a PST from their old POP mail configuration. Both of those went pretty well. With Outlook 2003 in cached mode, it was then a matter of synching back to the Exchange server with all the messages I imported from PSTs.

On Saturday, I went up to their offices in the suburbs just north of Chicago. There were two PCs in the office that I had reconfigure. I had those working in no time at all. Then I had to stop by the house of one of the partners and setup Entourage 2004 on her iMac for Exchange. This one had recently had a major drive failure that she just recovered from… she ended up sending her iMac’s hard drive to OnTrack for forensic data recovery – she had literally nothing backed up. OnTrack shipped everything back to her on a handy-dandy USB 2.0 External Hard Drive. Taking advantage of that drive, I downloaded Dobrysoft backup for Mac, and now I have all three of her Macs backing up to that external drive on a schedule basis.

But I digress. She might have been better of had her old e-mails not been recovered for Entourage. She had, I kid you not, 8000 items in her inbox under her POP-Mail configuration, plus some 4000 messages in her Sent Items folder. Yikes! There was no way in heck we were going to migrate those all over. It would certainly blow the disk quota on the Exchange server, plus it would take days to synch back up to the server. So we migrated a small subset of messages to her mailbox on the Exchange server. She can still see all the original messages, all 12,000 of them, in her local Entourage folders.

The next set of problems on this project came in the form of the Treo 650s used by the three partners of the firm. I hate Treos. At least Treo 650s (I’ve have yet to work with any of the new WinMo versions). I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of working with Treo 650s in several settings, and I’ve got one word: Crashtastic. Why do they call these things Smartphones? They crash constantly. Plus the onboard memory is so limited, it’s hard to install new applications like GoodLink. I needed to install GoodLink so that their Treos were able to perform OTA (over-the-air) synch to their Exchange mailboxes for e-mail, calendars and contacts.

The first issue I had to overcome on the each Treo was memory limitations. A couple of the Treo users had sucked up all their internal memory with pictures and video clips. So I had them run out and pick up 1GB SD cards, and we copied all the media items to the SD cards. I still had to delete other applications to make room for the Good OTA setup utility. Finally, I had freed up enough space to run the OTA Setup program. On two of the three Treos I got the Good software up and running, and I have to admit, it’s a slick little program. But it’s still sensitive to the memory limitations inherent on the Treo handhelds. The third Treo kept rebooting itself every time I tried to run the OTA setup program, so I had to abandon that and put the user back on VersaMail for accessing their messages. I think I need to update this particular Treo’s embedded software to get it to be stable again.

The next big problem is again related to the Treos. Each person had been synching their calendar and contacts to Palm Desktop. Palm Desktop isn’t a horrible app, I used to use it years ago with one of my first Palm PDAs. But it suffers from what I call “Data Lock-In.” Like the term implies, once the data is inside the Palm Desktop app, it’s next to impossible to get out. The data export options are limited at best. So clearly, that wasn’t going to bear any fruit in getting their calendar and contact data migrated into Outlook.

So the next option was to use the devices themselves as the data migration mechanism. They are, after all, capable of synching directly to Outlook. You just need to re-run the Treo software install CD, which includes an application to re-install the conduits necessary to synch to Outlook instead of to Palm Desktop. Not so fast. One of the partners could not locate her Treo software CD. And you can’t download the necessary tools from the Palm web site. I think the other partner may be able to find her Treo CD, so I’ll have to revisit this in the near future. The third partner is a Mac user, but her Treo was the one that wasn’t behaving with the GoodLink software. So I have her continuing to synch to Palm Desktop. I understand that Microsoft does allow for Entourage 2004 to synch with a Palm PDA, so I have to research how that is done. At least I could get that person to get their data populated into Exchange via Entourage.

In the end – each person is up and running on their new Exchange mailbox. I just have some follow up tasks surrounding those pesky Treos. BlackBerries, in my opinion, are just so much easier to deal with, in both Enterprise and personal settings.

I’ll be glad when this project is 100% completed. It’s been more of a marathon, rather than the sprint I had envisioned.

[tags]email,backup,migration,exchange,labor day,goodlink,ontrack,entourage 2004[/tags]