Providing the easiest possible transition to a new messaging system is a major concern for anyone involved in a migration project. One way to facilitate the passage is to ensure that users are familiar with the new client software.

Migrating from Lotus cc:Mail to Exchange Server requires users to move from a rather simple email client to a complete groupware interface: Outlook. The Microsoft Outlook Support for Lotus cc:Mail service can help users make the transition easier. I'll review cc:Mail's internals, tell you how to install the service, and explain the service's strengths and weaknesses.

Inside cc:Mail
Because cc:Mail is a file-share-based messaging system, the program forms post offices from a collection of files grouped in the same directory on a file server. To connect to the post office, the client software needs direct access to these files. Users have permission to connect to the file server and have their home post office directory mapped to their workstation. To access a mailbox, users need to know their name as it appears in the cc:Mail post office directory, their password, and the location of the post office.

The cc:Mail post office has two database versions: DB6 and DB8. Because users operate both post office environments, cc:Mail clients also come in two versions. The hardest part of maintaining a cc:Mail environment is keeping track of each client's version number and feature list. As of August, two cc:Mail clients were available for Windows NT and Windows 9x. The R6 version, and its latest build, 6.31, is the most widely used version because it connects to both DB8 and DB6 and probably is the best version available. R6 clients are 16-bit applications that have a very small footprint and use resources frugally. The R8 version connects only to a DB8 post office. Until recently, many cc:Mail administrators complained about the R8 client because of its poor feature list and a failed first attempt to use Messaging API (MAPI) as the connection protocol to the post office. In May, Lotus announced cc:Mail Release 8.4 for Windows client, which is a more natural evolution of the R6 client and doesn't feel like a Notes-cc:Mail mutant.

Service Architecture
Transend's ConnectorWare MAPI Service for cc:Mail lets Outlook 98 and Outlook 2000 clients send and receive mail via a cc:Mail post office and access the cc:Mail directory. Microsoft bundles ConnectorWare 1.2 with Outlook at no license cost to Microsoft Office purchasers. However, to obtain product enhancements, such as full integration with a DB8 post office, you must buy version 3.0 or later from Transend.

As Screen 1 shows, the cc:Mail service appears to Outlook like any other MAPI service. For version 3.x, the ConnectorWare service appears as Transend cc:Mail Service. For version 1.2, the service appears as Outlook Support for cc:Mail.

The ConnectorWare service doesn't use MAPI to access the cc:Mail post office. The core component of the product is a MAPI-VIM translation module. VIM stands for Vendor Independent Messaging and is Lotus' API for accessing a cc:Mail post office programmatically.

Using VIM, the service can connect to both DB6 and DB8 post offices. Unfortunately, the service doesn't have a direct connection to the mailbox and its components. The service connects to the cc:Mail Inbox periodically (every minute by default) and downloads its contents to Outlook Personal Folders. Thus, the service depends on two components: Windows MAPI and Lotus VIM.

ConnectorWare 1.2 doesn't include the VIM DLLs that Outlook needs to access a cc:Mail mailbox residing on a DB8 post office. For example, you can't access the cc:Mail Personal Address Book from Outlook. This lack of access can be a problem when users have many entries in their cc:Mail Address Book. You can download the required DLLs from the Lotus Web site (http://www.lotus.com) or obtain them with any cc:Mail Advance Service Release kit.

Installing the ConnectorWare Service and DLLs
Installing the ConnectorWare service is relatively painless. As a prerequisite, you must configure Outlook to use the Corporate/Workgroup email configuration. This configuration installs MAPI on the workstation and prepares Outlook to use MAPI services. To install ConnectorWare 1.2, you must create and configure a new profile using the Outlook Support for cc:Mail and Personal Folders services. In Outlook 2000, the Outlook Support for cc:Mail service is in the list of available information services. In Outlook 98, the service is on the Exchange Server Service Pack 1 (SP1) CD-ROM under \client\en\outlk98\valupack\cc:Mail. To install version 3.x, install the program and create a new profile using the Transend cc:Mail and Personal Folders services.

Before configuring the service, you must specify the location for the VIM DLLs. I usually create a Program Files subfolder in the system path. If you install ConnectorWare 3.x, you need to add the accessory applications location to the system path. The accessory applications are under \program files\common files\system\ mapi\1033\os version\. Installing ConnectorWare 1.2 also creates this directory, but the applications don't work properly with the DB8 post office.

After you complete the installation, you configure the services to access the cc:Mail mailbox. You usually map the post office location in the logon script. The username is the name of the mailbox as it appears in the cc:Mail directory.

The Delivery configuration sheet, which Screen 2 shows, in the service configuration is misleading because the service can't deliver messages coming from cc:Mail to any container other than Personal Folders. You use this sheet to configure the polling interval and the mail flow (send and receive). The service lets you use Rich Text Format (RTF) content in cc:Mail by attaching formatting information as a Transport Neutral Encapsulated Format (TNEF) file, which other Outlook clients running the service can interpret automatically.

ConnectorWare Features
Using Outlook as a cc:Mail client adds features not available to any other client. Calendar features let you request or schedule a meeting, although you can't check attendees' availability or calendar because shared calendar data is stored in a public folder--a specific Exchange Server feature. The Inbox can interact with other Outlook folders, but that feature is available only between Outlook clients running the ConnectorWare service.

The service lets you work offline, a task that has always been a problem in cc:Mail. Although you can use cc:Mobile, this client has shortcomings. The cc:Mobile client contacts the cc:Mail post office through a dial-up module so that users can download their mailbox contents into a single-user post office residing on their workstation. However, cc:Mobile doesn't synchronize files between the user's mailbox and the cc:Mail post office.

The ConnectorWare service offers Windows' flexibility to manage remote-access connections, an invaluable improvement over cc:Mobile. The Personal Folders are the only mail repository the client uses, which reduces synchronization problems. You can also download a copy of the cc:Mail directory for use when working offline.

The service also comes with tools for managing mailbox data and private directories. End users can use the tools to migrate their personal information to Outlook. An accessory for updating cc:Mail bulletin board information completes the service.

Limited Usefulness
I wouldn't recommend using the ConnectorWare service as a replacement for more traditional migration tools, such as the Mail Migration Wizard. The service is difficult to deploy on a large scale and doesn't let you programmatically migrate messages to an Exchange mailbox. However, you can use the service to familiarize users with Outlook's new features before they migrate to Exchange. I don't consider the service a serious alternative to cc:Mail clients because the Personal Folders it uses aren't a secure email storage solution and are a logistical nightmare to back up. However, I believe ConnectorWare is a great tool for performing migrations of single users or small workgroups and has a place in the toolkit of any consultant involved in a cc:Mail migration.