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10 tips for running a Lotus Notes Domino 7 upgrade pilot

A Notes/Domino 7 upgrade pilot is when you put your first Notes/Domino Release 7 server into the production environment. It's the first real chance you have to prove to everyone that everything is going to work; and, it's your last chance to fix anything that's broken. In this tip, Notes/Domino expert Andy Pedisich explains 10 ND7 upgrade pilot dos and don'ts you should follow to ensure the smoothest ND7 upgrade pilot process possible.

It's going to happen. You're going to upgrade to Lotus Domino Release 7. Maybe you already did it. Either way, this information has value, now or for next time you perform a Notes/Domino upgrade.

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 For this tip, I'm going to stay very focused and concentrate on a particular part of your upgrade -- the Notes/Domino 7 upgrade pilot. This is the time when you put your first Notes/Domino Release 7 server into the production environment.

The pilot happens after you work out all the requirements, do all your design work, build your test servers and clients, and test everything eight ways to Sunday.

The pilot is the first real chance you have to prove to everyone that everything you've come up with is going to work; and, it's your last chance to fix anything that is broken.

You can find out more about hard-to-find server issues in a two-week pilot than you can in six weeks of testing. There is nothing quite like putting a new version into a production domain.

Here are 10 Notes/Domino R7 upgrade pilot dos and don'ts. I offer them with all due respect after having done many Notes/Domino server upgrades, from versions 2.1 to 7.


  1. Do select a wide variety of users for the pilot.

    Be inclusive! Pick power users, IT people, non-IT people and normal ordinary users. There is nothing better than a normal user to tell you when something is broken. IT people will just click through and never tell you about it. And, if you can, make sure to include a few administrative assistants. They really know how to kick the devil out of calendaring and scheduling.


  2. Don't include any VPs, CIOs, or CEOs on the pilot.

    Many of them say they are willing to put up with the risk of potential problems and downtime, but they really aren't. They will generally lean all over you if problems come up. They also won't really do testing that has value. They're just too busy doing their jobs to be on a pilot. Trust me, you don't need the hassle.


  3. Do use the new Fault Analyzer task on your pilot server.

    If you're running Lotus Domino 6.x servers, you are probably already running crash Diagnostics Collection. It's configured in the Desktop Policies for clients and the Server Configuration Documents for servers.

    Just redesign your Lotus Notes/Domino Fault Reports database with the R7 template for that database, and tell your new Pilot server to process it. You won't regret it. It will correlate crashes and tell you which ones are exactly the same. Imagine knowing why your Lotus Notes clients are crashing and being able to fix the majority of them! That's the kind of power the Fault Analyzer will give you.

    Not using Diagnostics Collection? Shame on you.


  4. Don't pick a substandard system for your pilot server.

    Make sure it has more than enough capacity to drive those pilot users all the way home. You're in "proving mode," and your efforts in the pilot will be carefully watched. Any bad performance will be interpreted as a problem that lies with the Notes/Domino server software or the way you configured it. Either interpretation is bad because it degrades everyone's confidence in the Notes/Domino 7 upgrade.


  5. Do run the R7 upgrade pilot for a fixed period of time, not open-ended.

    Make sure everyone knows how long the pilot will be run. It will help them stay focused on getting to the goals. Make sure they understand that at the end of the Notes/Domino 7 upgrade pilot, they might end up back on the old version too. Not everything works out like it does in the movies.


  6. Don't use the out-of-the-box templates that come with the Lotus Domino server install.

    Make non-replica copies of all the stock templates to use on your pilot server; or, use the Surely Template app available at to change the replica IDs of the templates.

    Replica IDs have been exactly the same for every version of Pubnames.ntf, and all the rest of the system templates, for as long as I can remember. Imagine the fun of uncontrolled replication of all the R7 templates into your R6 environment. Now imagine the joy when the design task runs and pushes those ND7 designs into production databases before you planned on it! Use these new non-replica system templates for all your upgraded Lotus Domino R7 servers too.


  7. Do make sure that there are clear cut goals for your ND7 upgrade pilot.

    You should be "final testing" all the hot things that make your company go, including email, C&S, and Domino Web Access (DWA). Make sure that you run a scripted battery of tests and be prepared to move in the SWAT team if anything needs repair.


  8. Don't forget to look at the logs every day.

    Don't let anything slip past you. Investigate all problems and determine the root causes. Remember, this is your last chance to make the configuration as perfect as possible with no unplanned ND7 server downtime.


  9. Do use the new Lotus Domino R7 policies settings documents in your pilot.

    Your Lotus Domino R7 pilot is a great opportunity to use the new Mail Policy settings documents. Be sure to use the new R7 "lock down" policy settings too.To use the policies in a limited way, create a group consisting of your pilot server users and apply an Explicit Policy.


  10. Don't forget to communicate with the users.

    Give Lotus Notes users a discussion database where they can air their issues. Check that database regularly and have team members deal with any problems as soon as they come up.

About the author: Andy Pedisich is President of Technotics, Inc. He has been working with Lotus Notes and Domino since Release 2. Technotics provides strategic consulting and training on collaborative infrastructure projects for customers throughout the world. You can contact Technotics through their Web site at

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