PKF dumps Lotus for Exchange

PKF dumps Lotus for Exchange

Summary: Accountancy group PKF Australia has started migrating its 800 or so users from IBM's Lotus Notes collaboration platform to rival Microsoft's Exchange infrastructure. The move was proving pricey but would result in a more standardised and integrated environment, the group's chief information officer Mark Carmichael told ZDNet Australia in a telephone interview this morning.

Accountancy group PKF Australia has started migrating its 800 or so users from IBM's Lotus Notes collaboration platform to rival Microsoft's Exchange infrastructure.

The move was proving pricey but would result in a more standardised and integrated environment, the group's chief information officer Mark Carmichael told ZDNet Australia in a telephone interview this morning.

"There's not a lot of roadmap for Notes going forward," he said. "We've started to move away from custom-written applications in Notes to more mainstream, shrink-wrapped products based on SQL."

"To move to a Microsoft platform is no cost saving measure," he added. "Notes didn't cost a lot to have ... we didn't tackle it from that perspective."

Carmichael said custom applications could be developed relatively cheaply on the Notes platform, compared with buying licensed products from Microsoft.

PKF is hoping to have the rollout completed in six weeks' time, with Carmichael saying the move was taking a bit longer than he would have liked due to integration problems.

"We've got to run parallel systems, and that means you have to rely on the Notes Connector, to port mail from Notes to Exchange and vice versa," the CIO said. "That does a fairly good job, but there's some integration problems."

He added Microsoft was aware of the software issues and was consequently giving PKF a helping hand "at no charge".

But Carmichael's work won't stop once the Exchange migration has been bedded down.

"We're rolling out Interwoven's Worksite as a content management system for the whole firm," he said. "Before we can roll that in, we need Outlook and Exchange working properly."

Carmichael also gave high praise to the MessageLabs managed e-mail security solution PKF has been using for the last 12 months. "We did a trial ... and instantly no spam, no anything, literally 100 percent killed it," he said. "So it was sort of, where do I sign?"

"It's not a big price -- we're an 800-seat company, and it costs AU$26,000 a year," he said. "It was costing as much to run our own infrastructure."

Tips & tricks
Carmichael advised other CIOs attempting migrations off Notes to plan their move carefully.

"Notes is all-pervasive -- it touches every area of the business," he said. "So as soon as you change something, there'll be an impact further down the path."

"I think you just need to look at it, do a bit of planning, don't just ad-hoc your way through. Take small steps, and test everything really well before you start rolling it out to the business."

The common sense approach
Broadly speaking, Carmichael's approach to his infrastructure is to "keep it simple".

"I don't do anything rocket science as far as my infrastructure is concerned," he said. "I build best of breed, out-of-the-box type stuff without getting too tricky."

"If I lose a staff member, I can walk out my front door and whistle, and I'll have a hundred guys applying ... whereas if you get too tricky, you struggle."

The veteran CIO has names like Ernst & Young under his belt and knows the value of keeping his solutions running and picking the right vendors.

"I'll stick with strength, as far as vendors are concerned," he said. "So I'm an HP person, I'm sort of in bed with Microsoft a fair bit these days. I know they're going to be there for the years to come. I know I'm going to get the support that I need from them."

Carmichael also had a clear-cut opinion when it came to the latest hyped technology like IP telephony and Microsoft's next-generation operating system Windows Vista.

"At the moment there's no glaring benefit to us," he said of Vista, adding PKF would look into upgrading its Windows XP desktop environment on schedule as part of its three-yearly refresh, which comes up in 18 months' time.

"From the server point of view, we'll look at it as time goes by," he said.

Carmichael's point of view is in contrast with that of the IT directors of several of Australia's universities. Both Central Queensland and Edith Cowan Universities have already started Vista planning.

On IP telephony, while PKF has new PABX systems that can do Voice over Internet Protocol, Carmichael is similarly holding back.

He admitted PKF's mobile workforce could use the presence features of the next-generation telephony environment. "But for the cost, it doesn't justify itself right now," he said.

Topics: Unified Comms, Microsoft

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  • Not a lot of roadmap for Notes????

    I cant believe that... now I am a Notes developer and have a vested interest, and I am sure the move to exchange makes sense for this company, but no roadmap.

    IBM have talked about Notes in presentations throught to Notes 10 and beyond, much further foreward than I have head MSFT talk about Exchange.

    Notes has "Hannover" coming up, Linux support just added, etc, the roadmap for Notes could not be clearer..

    And IBM have a track record of delivering on the roadmap so you can pretty much bet its gonna happen, just look at how many bits of tech have been pulled from Exchange.... workflow. RDBMS back end etc. etc....

    I would suggest that IBM has a clearly mapped roadmap (with a lot of innovation and extra capabilities... IM included in Notes, SAP support etc) and Microsoft does not...
  • Let IT drive the business

    I read this article and thought, "Here's an IT manager who's doing what's best for himself, not the company". He wants to manage an IT infrastructure that uses only "shrink wrapped" applications on the MSFT platform. Safe. Vanilla. Nothing custom. Lock-down the workstations! Do not let the users be innovative. Let IT drive the business. Make our business processes rigid, static, and inflexible. Let our competitors be innovative instead.

    As for Lotus Notes: IBM has done an outstanding job describing the roadmap. There's plenty of press, but of course, you can't read about it at
  • Good riddance to Notes

    IBM may stick to their plan/schedule, but look at the end result - the Notes client has still been a horrible, non-standard, hard to use, single-threaded app for how many years?
    Did I hear someone say IM built in, rubbish, Lotus SameTime is good, (and maybe IBM throw in the licence with Domino/Notes), but it's definitely a separate product.
    One of the comments was talking about what's easy for the administrator, and Exchange and Outlook have their faults, but from a user's perspective give me Outlook everyday, Notes is appalling.
  • to the uninformed

    Notes 6.5 includes IM for free, in the core code. It is already enabled in the mailbox, so you see presence indicators next to the name columns and in address fields.
    Developers can use it in their applications by enabling a single checkmark.
    Sametime is a separate product with much more capabilities and is not free.
  • There are some things you should not be quoted as saying...

    There's nothing wrong with a migration from one platform to another, provided that it is done for business benefit, not for brand names. One of the best indicators of this is a deep knowledge of both products, showing that you've thoroughly compared them.

    Saying that there's not a lot of roadmap for notes, is pretty much admitting that you didn't research your topic.

    It seems a bit pointless to go through a migration process without checking all the boxes first.
  • Notes Roadmap is well defined

    Th eRoadmap for the future of Lotus Notes is, as others have pointed out, very well defined up to release 10. Release 8 (ND8) will ship in 2007 and includes a managed client based on open standards (Eclipse) that wil lrun on both Windows & Linux clients.

    It is intertesting that this CIO is not aware of the future for Notes, but as somebody said, you won't find that inofrmation at Microsoft. Also, Microsoft giving away services resources to help install and migrate is a sure sign that here we have a "the boos loves Microsoft" situation. Why else would they go to the expense and time of moving away from a product that supports open standards, and in his own words is a fast and inexpensive development environment to use a propriety system in .NET?

    As for Notes being non-standard, I fail to see what you are on about. If you mean the UI in Notes is not like MS Office than you are correct, but then it's made by IBM, not Microsoft, so you would expect a difference. As far as supporting standards, Notes & Domino are way in front of Outlook & Exchange which will, as one major limitation, only run on Windows where Domino will run on every major server OS.
  • Just another DUMB enterprise

    Watch this space, a company that decides to spend more money on something that is not broken, is a DUMB enterprise. Infact he admits that things are going wrong is a sign that they have no clue...
    Note how he talks about the reason to move is because of staff leaving..