SharePoint and Public Folders, Part 2: Migration Options

It might be hard to believe, but this week I'm finally delivering the long-promised second part of my (probably ongoing) series on migrating Microsoft Exchange Server public folder data to SharePoint. In "SharePoint and Public Folders, Part 1" (July 27, 2006, InstantDoc ID 92930), I talk about some of the differences between Exchange public folders and SharePoint. Now I want to talk about some of the tools that you can use to migrate public folder data.

The first thing you should know is that Microsoft itself isn't making any public folder migration tools available yet. I think this is a mistake, but that's the way it is: To my knowledge, neither the Exchange nor SharePoint team will deliver migration capability with its product's release to manufacturing. Of course, there's no time pressure for them to do so, because public folders will continue to exist and be supported until the end of the Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 product life cycle in 2016 or 2017.

However, a fertile market of SharePoint migration tools already exists. Several ISVs make tools to migrate IBM Lotus Notes and Lotus Domino data to SharePoint; for example, Metalogix Software offers Migration Manager 3.0 For SharePoint Products and Technologies and Tzunami offers Tzunami Deployer. The overall process of migrating messaging and calendaring data from Exchange or Domino to SharePoint is actually quite similar, so it's no surprise that both Tzunami and Metalogix have adapted their tools to migrate public folder data in advance of the 2007 Microsoft Office system release.

The better news is that Quest Software, a long-time leader in the migration world, has announced its SharePoint migration tool. Although the final details of availability and pricing haven't been announced yet, Quest is showing demos of its tool, and I'm impressed with what I've seen. The basic idea behind the tool is that it can pull content from a set of public folders and either move it to or synchronize it with SharePoint sites. A variety of scheduling, configuration, and control options let you decide what gets migrated, where it goes, and who has access to the migrated content. I'll review the tool after Quest makes a beta release available.

There are still some unanswered questions about how migrations will work in practice. For example, many organizations use public contact folders, and it isn't clear how workflows that depend on synchronizing contact information with mobile devices might have to change. Some desktop applications might require changes as well. Companies that depend on public folders' native replication capability face the question of whether to move their data to SharePoint, giving up replication in favor of SharePoint's integration and ubiquitous access features.

The whole migration field is still evolving, and because both SharePoint 2007 and Exchange 2007 are some time away from release, I expect to see further development of the associated migration products. In the meantime, if your organization is using public folders now, I'd like to hear what your concerns are and what you think of Microsoft's migration strategy.

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