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The Big Switch (FAQ)


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We want to provide as much information about the move from Notes Mail & Sametime to Outlook & Teams as we can – because we know there will be a lot of questions.

This is our Frequently Asked Questions (or FAQ) listing – if you can’t find your answers here, please mail your question to and we’ll get it added.


What’s changing? 

SMC is moving away from Notes mail and calendaring, instead using the Outlook component of Microsoft Office. This will provide better integration with the rest of the Office suite of tools. 

With that change, the Sametime chat services will be moved to Microsoft Teams. 

Why is SMC doing this? 

SMC pays for licenses of Office (meaning Word, Excel and PowerPoint) from Microsoft; those licenses include Outlook. SMC has long used IBM Notes for both applications and email, and has used Notes mail because of its tight integration with the applications. With changes in the way applications are delivered today, that integration becomes less and less dependent on what mail system is used. Longer term, using more of what the Office tools offer makes better sense. 

We’re also accomplishing two other big objectives: 

  1. We’re improving our management tools for handling archiving, document retention, and other document security/rights management things.

  2. Since it’s rolled up into other Office 365 solutions, the maintenance required by IT staff is reduced. 

So what does this mean for you?

In two words: Integration and Accessibility.

Leveraging your email within Word, Excel, and PowerPoint will be much easier to do. Combined with the broad variety of companies that write add-on tools for Office, the ability to leverage and extend the tools on your desktop to work with many other systems is greatly expanded.

Combine that with the fact that everything is available to you via web browser. Work wherever you are, and in most cases, without installing a single bit of software.

What’s NOT changing? 

IBM (Lotus) Notes is NOT GOING AWAY – SMC uses it widely for application purposes (such as Ringi, Shikomi, and many other solutions). As a result, many users will still have a Notes client for applications that need it. The IT Application Development Team is evaluating all of SMC’s applications, and will be looking at opportunities to modernize them in ways that eventually will reduce the need for the Notes client. 

If you are using IBM Connections Cloud, that won't change either - you'll keep using it.

When is this going to happen? 

Schedules are still being determined, but the initial Pilot group is already on Office 365 (mostly IT staff). The Migration Team is using the Pilot group to test not only the migration process itself, but also the communications we're planning to send and the feedback tools we want people to use. Based on what we've learned so far, we're assembling a second round of pilot users to test our adjustments.

What is Co-Existence?

This is the period of time where SMC has users in both Notes mail and Outlook - and our goal is to keep that period of time as short as possible. Most things between the two systems will work just fine (maybe just look a little different). There will be a few things that might "misbehave" between them, and we've found that these issues will go away once everyone is migrated. So we'll work as quickly as possible.

How long will email and calendar be down when it happens? 

There will not be a planned email outage during the conversion; the goal is little to no outage, meaning all you need to do is use Outlook instead of Notes after your migration date.

How much mail will be converted to Outlook? 

Everything that's currently in your day-to-day mail file will be migrated to Outlook. If your mail file is large (meaning over 500MB), it may be broken into two waves - your most recent mail first, then a second pass to get your older items.

Will my folder structure in Notes move to Outlook? 

Yes – folders will be migrated to Outlook, but there are a few caveats: 

  • The folder structure cannot go more than 10 levels deep.  

  • Your folder names can’t contain any special characters (things like !, %, or # ) 

  • If a folder can’t be created because above it will be name "Unnamed Folder1" etc.
  • Sent emails are all moved to the Outlook “Sent Items” folder. Sent emails can’t be moved into other folders in Outlook.

If they match one of these points, you will need to do some housekeeping to ensure that your folders migrate properly. 

One other note – if you have documents in multiple folders, it will only be in one folder after it moves to Outlook (the first one in which the document is discovered). 

What about Private Folders and Private Views? 

If you've got a folder marked as Private, you'll probably be hearing from the Migration team with a reminder to change any private folders to Public - or they won't be migrated.

Private Views are little different than Private Folders, and won't be very common because theres a little bit of "design work" behind them. If you have private views in your mail file, they will not be moved to Outlook. If you're not sure if you have Private Views in your mail, then you most likely don't have them.

Will my Mailbox Rules transfer to Outlook? 

Unfortunately, no – if you have rules today, you’ll have to recreate them in Outlook. As a part of migration, you’ll receive a message that contains the rules currently in your Notes mail; you can use that recreate any rules you may still need. 

Will I lose my current archive? 

Right now, no. The team's migration focus is to move all active day-to-day mailboxes first, so your Notes mail archive will remain in place. Once all of the "regular" mail is migrated, we'll revisit the archived items. Until that happens, your archive will still be visible via Notes. We're working on more detailed answers for dealing with items in your archive post-migration, so check back for updates on this item.

Instructions on how to manage your Notes archive after migration to Outlook are available here:

Please Note: SMC will be instituting new retention policies in the coming months. When that happens, you will receive additional information on the retention period; you will retain email that falls within those policy guidelines. 

Does Outlook let me archive? 

There won't be a need to - with Outlook, mailbox size limitations will increase radically – so regular archiving with be a thing of the past. Everything in one place. 

I used Stationery - will that transfer?

Unfortunately, the Stationery feature in Notes mail doesn't transfer to Outlook, so you'll need to re-create those (in what will be called Outlook Templates) once your mail is moved to Outlook.

Are Custom Signatures supported?

Yes, you can use create custom signatures for your mail. In fact, you can create different signatures, and choose which one to use on a per-message basis.

Will I lose my calendar entries? 

No - your calendar entries will be moved to Outlook. However, if you have a lot of repeating/recurring meetings that were set up in Notes, there are some "quirks" with how it behaves in Outlook (especially if you have to make changes after you've migrated). We will be posting more specific information on this topic.

Will my contacts be migrated/moved to Outlook.

Yes. All contacts that show up in your Toolbox/Webmail/SMC Phone will automatically migrate. If you mostly/only use the Notes client, or have more contacts on the Notes client, make sure you read the email we sent out before migration about contact sync/migration. 

Are my Room Reservations being transferred as well? 

Yes - Room Reservations will be transferred, and you’ll be able to select rooms in Outlook as well. During the Co-Existence period where we have both Notes and Outlook users (and we hope that time is brief), there are a few things to be aware of when scheduling rooms for repeating/recurring meetings. Again, we'll be posting more information on this topic.

Can I still do a "busy search" for available meeting times?

Yes - busy search will work for both people and meeting rooms, regardless if you are still on Notes or are now using Outlook.

How do I get to Outlook Mail and Calendar after I've been migrated?

You can access your mail via browser - right from the Okta screen. You will see an Okta link to Microsoft Office 365 - when you click on it, you'll see a dashboard of Apps; your first option is Outlook. You can change your default screen to be Outlook (instead of the list of Apps) by clicking Settings (the Gear icon on the top right of the screen), and choose Outlook as your Start Page.

Will my email address change? 

Your email address will not change. 

Do I need to remember yet another user name and password? 

Here’s the good news: NO. It will be your network username/email address and your current network password. It’s integrated with Okta, so it’s using your network credentials.

If you are accessing Outlook for the first time and you are prompted for your email address, and for some reason your email address doesn't work, try your Network ID (the one you use for Okta). For example:

Your email address is: (not working)

Try your network ID:

If you're still having trouble, contact the Support Desk.


Will I use a web browser to access my email and calendar? 

You certainly can - it will work both with a browser and the standalone, installed Outlook client. For many users, the browser is just fine and fully functional (and even preferred). For others who might require additional or specialized functionality, the Outlook client software will be the right choice. 

Are Outlook and Exchange the same thing?

Outlook is the client used to view email - in other words, Outlook is your mail. Exchange refers to the server platform where your mail lives - and really is only of interest to the Administrator-types.

What's going to happen to Team Mailboxes? 

They will remain in Notes to start, and will function just as they do today. Eventually, many of them will be moved from Notes to an Outlook Group Mailbox – but not all of them (that's depends on the mailbox and any special processing it may have built into it). We're still evaluating all of them; as we finalize the list of what is and is not moving (and when), we'll publish it. 

The good news, though: the Group Mailbox tools in Outlook offer some great (and much needed) functionality we don't have today. When they do move, you'll be able to see them via Outlook, as an additional mailbox in the navigation of your personal mail. Stay tuned.

How are Mailing Lists going to be managed? 

Internal mailing lists probably won't change. The largest changes will most likely be in mailing lists that involve a lot of external address (meaning addresses), as there will be limitations on the volume of messages that can be sent externally. Stay tuned on this one. 

What about Group Calendars? 

These will be moved to Outlook – because Outlook has some really interesting features that will probably improve the experience in the world of Group Calendars. 

Will I be able to view email via a web browser outside of SMC? 

Yes – you’ll still need to access everything via Okta, but it will be accessible. 

Will I be able to use my phone to read my email? 

Yes – there will be a new application that you’ll need to use, but smooth transition for mobile users is a team objective. 

Here a link to instructions on how to enroll your SMC Mobile device to receive emails from Microsoft 365 Outlook and other SMC suggested applications:

What is Teams? 

Teams is Microsoft’s collaboration tool – all based around chat. If you work with the same group of people on various tasks (say, your department), or you’re working on a project that involves conversation with a core group of people (which is more likely), Teams acts as a portal/hub to the things you need: discussions, documents, maybe even things from other applications. Think of it as a persistent digital meeting room. 

Teams also allows you to directly chat one-to-one or one-to-a-few, much in the way Sametime works today – which is why we’re talking about it now. You’ll be seeing more about Teams in the future (and all of its capabilities), but for now, think about it as chat. 

What does Teams give me that Sametime doesn’t? 

You’ll be able to do more with chat – attach files, paste links, search, and a few other features (for future discussion) that we think will be popular with a lot of people. 

I see Skype for Business references in a few places – what this that? 

Skype for Business (at one time known as Lync) is the Microsoft chat platform that’s being replaced by Teams (Microsoft has been working on this for the past several months). Rather than set up and train for a system that’s expected to be phased out, SMC is going straight to Teams. That means you may see a few references to Skype for Business in places – until they are completely removed by Microsoft. Just ignore them. 

What about the rest of Office 365? 

Office 365 is much more than Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – and we're looking forward to exposing more of that to everyone – just not right way. Switching to Outlook will be a big enough task, and we want to get that as close to "right" as we can. 

Will there be training available? 

Yes – in a variety of forms. We’re still working out the details on what those forms might be (online, in-person, etc.), but Actuate already has courses available for both Outlook and Teams. Here a link to a PDF with recommended courses about this topic: Outlook_Courses_Available_in_Actuate.pdf

We also have quick reference sheets available for you here:

Where do I look for the most recent information about the mail move to Outlook? 

We've been working on a web site devoted to information on the effort. We’ll update this document with the address once it’s fully operational.

In the mean time, here are few things to get you going:

  • Outlook 2016 Quick Start Guide  - most of this is geared toward the Outlook Client, but many of the features look the same in the web browser version.
  • Outlook 2016 Tips and Tricks (attached below) - again for the client, and again features and functionality are very similar between that and the browser version.

Instructions on how to manage your Notes archive after migration to Outlook are available here:

What is this I see in emails? is bigger than just the US - we interact with people everywhere. It's a way to provide one address for everyone. We started using it for Support Desk tickets (, and we're using it again for The Big Switch.

Who do I contact with my additional questions? 

Send your questions to – someone from the project team will respond. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – if they should be in this FAQ, we’ll add them!

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