Client Overview

As one of the largest utility companies located in the Midwestern United States, this provider of electric energy employs more than 2,200 people and services more than 675,000 customers.

Business Challenge

Over the past several years, this client has developed hundreds of applications using Notes. The utility was facing two major challenges: a need to upgrade IBM Notes and, at the same time, migrating from Windows to AIX servers.

Having had a terrible experience during their most recent upgrade, the utility was searching for a better upgrade experience. Not only was their previous upgrade expensive, but it took a long time to complete and the resulting poor quality applications created a distrust of the Notes developers by the users.

Complicating the server architecture change, many of the utility’s Notes applications had been developed using undisciplined programming techniques. For example, hard-coded server names, inconsistent naming conventions and the use of mixed case were among their earlier coding practices. They also had many applications that relied on platform specific API calls and design issues that needed to be located and tested before completing the roll out. For example, the Windows platform was not case sensitive, In addition, the new line character and directory separator are different on AIX than it is on Windows. The applications that had run smoothly on Windows would simply not function on the new platform, and having developed these applications over several years, documentation of these coding practices was sporadic at best.

The IT organization was very tight on resources. It was becoming critical to the group to find ways to gain developer and administrator efficiencies in their Notes environment. Furthermore, there was increasing pressure to demonstrate Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) compliance throughout their Notes applications. Creating a platform-independent, or at least platform-aware version of their applications was the first step towards gaining this compliance.

Given the strained resources and growing requirements, the client had to implement an IT Governance framework to help them introduce automated methods of preparing for the Notes upgrade and analyzing their applications for platform dependence. This framework would help them create a policy for best coding practices to minimize the risks associated with their previous development practice. In searching for a solution, they turned to Teamstudio.

The Teamstudio Solution

Teamstudio met with the client to gain a better understanding of their requirements and challenges. The first objective was to determine what could be done to help their upgrade go more smoothly. The second objective was to find an automated method of identifying platform dependent applications.

Several options were available to the client such as acquiring a product with product training and perform this analysis manually, but in the end it was agreed that the most advantageous alternative was to engage Teamstudio to perform this work for them. Having had a poor experience with an earlier upgrade, they felt it was important to have Teamstudio involved in the upgrade project. The client also engaged Teamstudio’s Asset Analysis service to help them with the platform dependency project. The asset analysis included searches for standard naming conventions and hard coded server names, but it also added custom search capabilities to identify anything that may potentially pose an issue once the application is deployed on AIX.


IBM Notes Asset Analysis and Management
By engaging Teamstudio’s Asset Analysis service, the client was able to identify and modify more than 500 Notes applications so they were platform independent, and ready to be moved to the new operating system. Prior to contacting Teamstudio, the client estimated that a manual effort would cost more than $22,000 and take three and a half months to complete. Furthermore, it would have likely resulted in numerous errors and rework. With Teamstudio, they were able to complete this work in a week, resulting in dramatic savings.

IBM Notes Version Upgrade
The utility’s previous upgrade experience took nearly three months to complete, having to redo much of the work along the way. Using Teamstudio’s Upgrade Filters as part of their upgrade strategy, they were able to complete the project in less than a week. Unexpectedly, the resulting high quality applications provided the Notes Developers with newfound respect from their users. More than the specific cost savings achieved with this project, the client recognized the real return was in eliminating opportunity costs associated with missed deadlines for unplanned project work.

Creating platform independent applications based on the most current release of Notes proved to be the launching pad needed to enable SOX compliance. Having well defined and documented applications was the basis needed to address the SOX compliance challenges faced by the client.

The client was able to complete both projects in less than two weeks. Compare this to their past upgrade experience of three months, and their three month estimate for the platform independence project, combined cost savings are greater than $8,000.