Westpac Banking Corporation, one of Australia's largest users of IBM's Lotus Notes/Domino ecosystem, has finally confirmed that it is ready to dump the platform in favour of Microsoft's rival Outlook/Exchange system.
The bank has been a Lotus user for more than a decade, backed by its lengthy comprehensive technology outsourcing agreement with IBM. But despite renewing its vows with Big Blue for a further five years last November, Westpac today confirmed that it has filed divorce papers with its email platform.
"Westpac is currently reviewing its email requirements," a bank spokesperson said in a brief statement this afternoon, "and looking forward to migrating all Westpac staff to Microsoft Outlook." The bank could not confirm any further details, but people with knowledge of the situation said that it intends to migrate to the latest version of Microsoft's Exchange 2010 over the next 18 months with the support of both existing partner IBM and Japanese IT services giant Fujitsu.
The move will constitute one of the largest migrations from Lotus to Exchange in Australia's history, as the bank has some 39,000 staff — dwarfing even the shift made by Qantas in 2010 of its 20,000 staff to Exchange, and other roll-outs such as the ones conducted by financial services giant AMP and Coca-Cola Amatil.
It is not known to what extent Westpac uses Notes' broader functions in its operations beyond email. Many organisations that have been using the platform for years, as Westpac has, have taken advantage internally of the all-encompassing development environment that Notes provides. It can be a complex exercise for much of that functionality to be migrated onto Microsoft's platform, often involving the use of the software giant's SharePoint collaboration portal, for example.
Some organisations are still happy with Lotus, however, such as Australian youth charity BoysTown, which has remained with Notes/Domino and even upgraded the platform, citing the extensibility of IBM's solution compared to that of rivals.
The next major shift known from Lotus Notes/Domino to Exchange will likely take place at new super-agency, the Department of Human Services. In June last year, the agency revealed that it was likely to end the long-running relationship that some of its component agencies have had with Notes as part of its massive technology consolidation. This consolidation recently received a funding boost worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the Federal Budget.
Various agencies to be consolidated, especially Centrelink and Medicare Australia, have used the ailing Notes platform for years — but in an interview last year, the department's deputy secretary for ICT infrastructure, John Wadeson, said it was likely that the new super-department would standardise on Exchange.
"I couldn't say that it was set in stone, but we are at this minute certainly looking at moving to a Microsoft platform in that layer," he said.