Sydney's Macquarie University is weighing up a move to Microsoft's Exchange collaboration platform, as its current Novell GroupWise solution proves less able to handle next-generation technologies such as IP telephony.
"We're considering moving to Exchange," the university's director of IT services Mary Sharp told ZDNet Australia in a telephone interview late last week.
Sharp noted not all of Macquarie's 7,000 staff used the GroupWise option provided centrally by her unit, with some divisions using different solutions provided by their separate internal IT teams. However, the majority did, she said.
Sharp said the Exchange option was being evaluated for two reasons, with both human and technology factors coming into play.
"One is because our PABX, bless its little heart, will be 21 years old next year. And we're not particularly keen on letting it make 22," she said.
"So of course, what we're doing now is trialling Voice over Internet Protocol [telephony]. And what we're finding is that most of the VoIP products integrate very very nicely with Exchange, but have never heard of Groupwise."
This limitation extends to other areas such as integration with Research in Motion's popular BlackBerry mobile e-mail devices. Sharp noted GroupWise did integrate with the BlackBerrys, but the integration tools lagged behind those available for Exchange.
The university is also currently undertaking a recruitment campaign for researchers, and is concerned GroupWise could prove a little much for world-class staff accustomed to Exchange and its desktop client Outlook.
"They've got enough issues to deal with rather than learning new computer systems, so it's just the whole training curve thing," said Sharp.
A third reason is that finding support staff for GroupWise is "virtually impossible," according to Sharp.
Not without merit
The IT director noted, however, that GroupWise was still a good product and had many advantages over the competition.
"There's some really good reasons not to move to Microsoft too, or to stay with GroupWise, not the least of which is, we hardly ever get attacked by viruses," Sharp said. "And we kind of like it like that."
"GroupWise has actually got some really nice features. It hardly ever breaks, it's as robust as ... it's a really good product. It's just a shame that you know, it's purely and simply that Exchange is so popular I think."
Sharp's comments echo some made by NSW Department of Commerce Information Management and Technology general manager Geoff Tye back in August.
While Commerce is extending its GroupWise rollout, Tye conceded at the time that third-party software could sometimes take a bit longer to be supported under GroupWise than Exchange.