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Myths, facts, and common questions regarding DOORS migration

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DNGIBM Rational DOORS is the market-leading Requirements Management tool and has had that title for a long time – at least the last 15 years. Among formal tools for requirements, DOORS is used by more people on Earth than any other. Rational DOORS Next Generation (RDNG) was introduced by IBM to secure this market leadership for at least the next 15 years. Simply stated, DOORS remains a highly mature requirements tool with a very large user community, but Next Generation is able to deliver systems and services that it would be difficult to deploy with DOORS or any other requirements tool.

In this article I explore the myths, legends, and common questions regarding DOORS migration in the form of some common questions you might ask yourself.

Am I being forced to migrate from DOORS to a new requirements tool?

No. IBM has said, and continues to say, that DOORS is around for the long run. IBM sees no reason for the DOORS product to retire or end. Even if they did it would take a long time to retire, and this would not be kept secret from IBM’s valued customers. You have the flexibility to choose to migrate, partially migrate, or not migrate at all, based on the value you feel your organization will get from DOORS Next Generation. You should not feel compelled to move based on the life expectation of DOORS. IBM has many clients who depend on DOORS and have no plans to move. IBM also has customers who are interested in exploiting the new capabilities of DOORS Next Generation to increase the benefit their organizations get in their requirements data – for example with the built-in configuration management facilities to allow parallel development of multiple versions of the same requirement.

Does IBM provide a migration tool from DOORS to DNG? I’m being told they don’t.

Yes, IBM provides off-the-shelf migration support from DOORS to DNG, built directly into the tools at no additional license cost.

DNG became a commercial product in 2012. At that time IBM immediately offered the ability for customers to use both tools in parallel with bi-directional data exchange using the industry standard requirements exchange format ReqIF. Initially DNG was intended for new customers or for existing customers with new projects. Migration was not needed initially. ReqIF is designed for supplier communication and is not sufficient for migration. In 2015 IBM provided a formal migration tool, supplied as a built-in function to both DOORS and DNG. Data transfer itself can be a simple operation but it is likely customers wish to increase the value of their data by transforming it to exploit the full benefits of DNG.

Is there a difference between data exchange and migration?

Yes there is a difference – migration and exchange are different operations. Both migration and data exchange are offered by IBM but care should be taken to consider which to use. Migration is the ability to analyze, reshape, and move data from DOORS to exploit the full advantages of DOORS Next Generation. Migration is a one-way operation, leaving a read-only history record back in DOORS. Exchange is a bi-directional transfer of knowledge between two concurrently running tools where you have active users contributing to the same requirements from both systems. Exchange of requirements is typically facilitated by the data format ReqIF, but this has proven to be insufficient for full migration tasks.

Is the IBM migration tool superior to others?

As the developers of DOORS, IBM is in the best position to help DOORS customers migrate in the optimum and most cost effective way.  IBM’s migration tooling capability and services are unmatched by others.  Migration includes services to clean the original data in DOORS and to transform the information to best exploit the benefits of DOORS Next Generation.
IBM’s migration tools are built on optimized functionality and are not based on fragile or inadequate transfer technologies. DOORS customers already have the right to run both DOORS and DOORS Next Generation without additional cost and this allows the flexibility to migrate over time, keeping an audit trail back to records in DOORS.

What are the steps needed for migration?

Migration is simple but if you wish to transform your information to enhance it you might wish to break migration down into steps. IBM’s approach is to partner with clients and business partners to provide knowledge, tooling, and expertise to achieve a smooth transition. IBM’s deep knowledge and experience helps our clients prioritize migration content, develop a phased approach, and successfully complete transition from DOORS to DNG.
Migration is based on a three-step approach, supporting customer situations with all levels of data volumes and complexity, including cross-project dependencies.

The three stages of migration are:

  1. Preparation – Planning for information architecture, tooling, and incremental migration all form part of the analysis needed to ensure a safe transition from DOORS to DOORS Next Generation. Cleaning and normalization of data ensures that the maximum benefit can be gained from DOORS Next Generation, rather than being constrained by the information you have migrated.
  2. Migration – Export of DOORS data and import into DOORS Next Generation. The end result is active data to take forward in DOORS Next Generation, linking back to a read-only reference in DOORS.
  3. Maintenance – Optional continued work on types in DOORS Next Generation including harmonization of attribute and artifact types.

A more detailed white paper on migration can be found here.

Can I migrate a sample of my data without interfering with my current work?

Yes, you can do this in two ways. If you only have a single-server environment for DOORS, simply take a copy of an interesting project to create a sample of data to migrate as many times as you wish until you decide that you are ready. An alternative is to use a Sandbox environment, making a snapshot of your whole DOORS server to consider the larger-scale picture of migration as a whole.

Can I get help with my migration?

Yes. The migration steps between DOORS and DNG can be relatively simple but IBM expects that organizations will wish to get more benefit from DNG than they currently do from DOORS. Simply copying like-for-like data from DOORS to DNG might not give you the full benefit. IBM offers all levels of help for migration from basic documentation, additional technical papers, to full professional services. A services solution can provide an organization with training, guidance, and help with the migration task itself.


In summary, if you are a happy DOORS user then please rest assured that you can continue to use DOORS and are not compelled to change. If you do wish to migrate to DOORS Next Generation, in part or full, then IBM would love to welcome you as a DNG user. Migration tools exist and we are happy to help advise you. Myths are easy to create but once you have the facts they are just as easy to dispel. Please do not hesitate to voice your concerns and to come to IBM with your questions. We are happy to help.