System migration may be the most dangerous thing you ever do

By Joel Shore, ITworld.com |  Business

Pity the poor IT department that is about to migrate a key application from one platform to another. Or perform a major upgrade. Or worse, merge into another company's systems after being acquired. It's a recipe for disaster.

Consider the plight of Mailbank.com, the Boulder, Colo.-based provider of e-mail and Web services under the name NetIdentity. Acquired recently by Toronto-based Tucows, the companies are moving, migrating, and otherwise homogenizing millions of e-mail accounts, including one of mine.

It's not going as planned.

NetIdentity had a brilliant business plan. Over the years, it has registered more than 15,000 surname-based domains. If you want an e-mail account with your last name as the domain, chances are pretty good you have to go through them. My personal e-mail account is through NetIdentity and has worked trouble-free for years.

In June, Tucows acquired NetIdentity. I'm still getting my mail, using Microsoft Outlook as a POP3 client. The only time I ever log into my e-mail account directly through a browser is when I'm traveling. I don't use the bundled address book, message archiving, and online calendar services. Apparently, that's a good thing.

Based on messages being sent out from Tucows, the migration process has hit several speedbumps.

Here's a message from Sept. 26 posted on the NetIdentity Web site. "Missing Contact Data: You may notice during the migration that your contact data appears to have gone missing. This is not the case. Contact data migration is part of a separate process. This process is taking longer than expected and as a result, giving our subscribers the appearance that the data has gone missing. This is not the case and your contact data will automatically show up as quickly as we can fix the backlog. We will post more information concerning when all contact data has been migrated. Thank you for your patience."

Today, Sept. 27, Tucows sent out an e-mail blast with additional details and identifying more woes. " Missing Folders: During the migration, the system also turned some of your folders 'off.' Your folders still exist -- you just can't see them." The message goes on to explain how to log in and restore folder visibility.

And here's another from the same e-mail blast. "Can't Customize Your Name in your 'FROM' Address: The system has changed the display of your name to only be that of your email address, where you had your name beside your email address before. . . Unfortunately, the 'FROM' line cannot currently be changed. However, we realize the way you display your name is important and our technical team is working on fixing this issue as soon as possible.

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