Steinhoff dumps Lotus for Telstra T-Suite


update Microsoft has inserted yet another nail in the coffin of IBM’s Lotus Notes/Domino suite and is hammering it home, with the company and partner Telstra convincing furniture specialist Steinhoff to dump its Lotus installation and shift to the Telstra-branded version of Redmond’s Business Productivity Online Suite.

Steinhoff operates the popular Freedom Furniture, Snooze and Bay Leather Republic brands, and has a substantial presence in the Asia-Pacific region — with 154 retail outlets and some 2,500 employees.

A statement published this morning by Telstra, Microsoft and partner HubOne revealed the company had bought some 1,050 BPOS seats through Telstra’s T-Suite portal. BPOS operates on a hosted model, with customers getting access to products such Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint and Office Communications Server and Live Meeting through a web browser.

The company is believed to have been previously using IBM’s Lotus Notes/Domino package, although the migration to BPOS is not yet complete.

400 of those staff will be limited in the feature set they receive, as they will receive collaboration tools through what Microsoft describes as its Exchange Online Deskless Worker tier, while the other 600-odd will have access to the full suite of BPOS tools.

HubOne will manage migration of Steinhoff’s services to the cloud, with the company expecting the integration process to be complete by May. ”We are absolutely delighted to have played a part in this success,” said HubOne managing director Nick Beaugeard. “Once again, this proves the viability of the new cloud computing business model for all industries, regardless of size or vertical focus”.

Steinhoff Asia-Pacific IT manager Clive Nichols said in a separate statement that the on-premise version of Notes the company had been using was “out of vendor support”, and as a result Steinhoff was experiencing technical and compatibility issues

“We found that by implementing BPOS, Steinhoff will not only be able to address these issues but will be able to reduce our email and Blackberry operating expenditure by approximately 10 percent,” he added. “This is without even factoring the infrastructure capital savings resulting from the fact that our email servers will no longer require a refresh. The solution will also provide Steinhoff with good scalability, simplified management and a platform that will allow a speedy deployment of further communication enhancements at an appropriate time.”

The executive notes that the terms and conditions of the BPOS deal were still being finalised, but once these were done, he expected a 10 to 12 week deployment time for the new systems. Steinhoff considered various options for its future email platform, he said — on-premise Exchange, on-premise Domino, hosted Exchange and Domino in the cloud (Lotus Live).

Some organisations have flagged a reluctance to host their email in Microsoft’s cloud because of the fact that the data will be hosted overseas, instead of in Australia in a local datacentre.

“Overseas hosting was certainly a factor in the decision making process,” said Nichols, “but we are very satisfied that Microsoft Exchange Online/Telstra will meet our email security, speed and reliability requirements. Steinhoff will not be using the solution to host customer sensitive information (for example customer credit card information, customer details etc) and so in terms of a cloud deployment our risk is reduced.”

In terms of other major projects, Steinhoff is also in the final stages of the tendering process for a desktop refresh, he said.

The news comes as large Australian organisations are increasingly dumping Lotus Notes/Domino wholesale, with many seeing it as a legacy platform unsuited to modern enterprise needs.

In February last year, national airline Qantas confirmed it would ditch IBM’s suite for Outlook/Exchange, and other such as Coca-Cola Amatil and AMP have done the same. Microsoft appears to have been the primary beneficiary from the moves, although a number of Australian organisations have also deployed Google’s Apps suite instead.

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 with that of rivals.

Image credit: Aidy Spencer, Creative Commons


      • Notes isn’t that bad…people give it a bum rap because it’s a little inflexible in some aspects, but it’s still a great product. Exchange hasn’t really changed in 10 years, and there’s nothing a properly configured Domino server can’t do that Exchange can.

        Microsoft just throw up sweet pricing to get people to move.

        • I think Domino vs. Exchange is fairly closely matched, but Notes vs. Outlook is no contest, IMO.

          • >I think Domino vs. Exchange is fairly closely matched,

            So you mean I can develop my own applications on an Exchange server? Or deploy some open source applications, like the ones I can get at On my Domino server at home, I run my websites (just four at the moment, with dynamic content published from a database of course, code all written myself using the now free Domino Designer), and I am also in the process fo setting up a bulletin board (DomBulletin). I am thinking about hosting my blog there too, using one of the blog templates that are out there for free.

            >but Notes vs. Outlook is no contest, IMO.
            I agree. In Notes I can run applications, for example the claim system we use at work, the Knowledgebase application I wrote a bunch of years ago, or any number of other applications.
            When we deployed the new version of Notes this weekend, the users wanted some changes made to the mail. They wanted a bar showing the useage and how close to quota they are (in percent).
            So I added that and we are about to deploy that change. As far as I know, you can not easily change the look or functionality of Outlook… So Notes win hands down.
            And the Notes 8.5 client is noce, I think it looks as good or better than Outlook. And it is not sensitive to viruses in the same way.

          • hey mate,

            I note from your site that you’re a US-based professional Lotus Notes developer, of the type that I have had spamming Delimiter articles about Lotus Notes before. Just letting you know that if you start using this thread as a propaganda device for Notes I will start deleting posts.

            A little bit of give and take is good — but you can’t just write off every alternative collaboration solution in favour of Notes, without knowing anything about the situation on the ground in Australia.



          • [*snip* — no insults please. Renai]. I want to correct common misconceptions about Notes and Domino, which i think I am competent to do, as a long time user and developer (with some admin thrown in).

            Exchange is a mail-only server, while Domino is a complete platform where mail is just one component.
            So just because of that you can’t really compare them. If you want to compare Domino vs the Microsoft offerings, you should really compare it with Exchange, ISS, SQL Server, Sharepoint and Visual Studio.

            If you just use mail, Outlook is an adequate tool. It is faster than the Notes client, but it only does mail and calendar, and you can’t (easily) modify it’s functionality or looks.

            But if you are a company that need or want applications, Domino is a great platform. The tight integration between applications (including mail and calendar/scheduling) is a benefit.
            Our administrator here at work have been working on Exchange before, and he (as well as other admins with Exchange experience) all say that Domino is a dream to maintain, and very easy to administer. I just know that I, as a developer, could setup a server at home in a very short time.

            I think that if you really look at the cases where end users complain about Notes, it boils down to a few things:

            * The users are running a very old version. They hate it because the user interface is not as shiny and slick as Outlook or other modern programs. Or they are missing functionality, which in most cases are available in the newer versions.

            * They have not been trained properly. It is not unusual that users are just put in front of a computer with Notes and told “here you go, work.” A little bit of training might show them that features they want or miss actually are there, they just don’t knwo where they are. As Notes has a lot of functions, some are “hidden” deeper down that perhaps is ideal. In Notes 8.x (and even more in 8.5), the user interface have been rewritten and it is now very modern and much easier to use.

            * Bad administrators or IT Managers/CIO. If the infrastructure is setup in a bad way, or if the CIO dictate a max mail quota of 250 MB, that is not the fault of the product. I seen comments on Notes-hating websites that “Notes sucks because you can only have 250MB mail files” or “Notes sucks, you can’t work from home with it”, just because the IT department set a quota or refused to open the firewall for remote users… Again, not the fault of the product. We have a user who recently had a 18 GB mail file. And Notes/Domino is designed to work remotely and even off´line.

            There are valid complaints, of course. Notes 8.x Standard is built on Eclipse. This makes it bigger and slower than previous versions, but also makes it possible to create Mac and Linux versions. It also benefit from all the functionality in Eclipse, so the developers can focus on other things in the product and does not have to reinvent the wheel.

            But as a Rapid Application Development platform, Domino Designer is great.
            Read this comparison by a web developer who used Notes for a short time back in the mid-90’s (mail only) and after that have had no experience wit it:

            Notice that what was possible to do in 5-6 minutes took an hour or more using mySQL and PHP, and then all the functionality was not even there…

  1. I note that Steinhoff moved from on-premise Lotus to cloud MS … correct comparison would be LotusLive. If they have any sense, IBM would be hammering the nails themselves and moving customers to LotusLive rather than renewing on-premise deals …

  2. I have been working around this space for some years. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense from an operational perspective. Despite what the critics say, (which mostly is that “Notes is ugly”), Notes is a very tough and stable email and workflow platform.

    So, to spend literally millions to go from a working email platform, to another email platform, really defies common sense. In some cases the client has not managed the environment properly and blames the technology when really it’s the people who are running the infrastructure that need a kick in the ar$e for mis-managing their servers or they haven’t invested in training.

    It’s hard to beat the Lotus technology in terms of cost for rapid build and deployment of applications. Literally a couple of clicks and the release to production is complete. Upgrading your servers takes around 30 minutes with existing h/w. I’d like to see M$ include their upgrade costs including effort with their TCO calculations to compare.

    I suspect M$ has shown them a convincing licensing agreement and some estiamted TCO savings that creates the perception of lower TCO. To get a similar level of functionality from one Domino server for mail alone, you’re looking at 3 wintel server licenses alone as the M$ stack requires alot of boxes or VM’s. And you might also need to includes web access to mail as well so add another box. So you’re pushing 4 TO 1 on the server licenses already !

    I always ask what’s IBM doing to counter the FUD ? Apparently not much from what I can see. I do know of some sites who have migrated almost out of spite because of very poor customer service from IBM. Specifically, IBM reps merely make calls to clients to push licenses rather than listen to the client and help them with issues they want solved. I suppose there is no commission in solving problems.

    Having been in defense of the product, I will say that IBM’s recent move in the R8.x with java (Eclipse) as the standard deployment for the Notes client was the BIGGEST mistake they have ever made.

    I’m sure it looked great on paper, but the fact, unfortunately, remains that R8 and it’s more recent update 8.5 is a massive CPU hog which has suffered greatly from a lack of quality testing from IBM. The complexity under the hood of the Notes client can be demonstrated in this analogy. IBM has turned the trip down to the corner shop for some milk into an epic adventure of NASA-like complexity for IT deparments. Couple that with zero training available in Australia and you have good motivation to migrate.

    Many reports of a flaky client with obscure Eclipse errors, and the ramping up of complexity is something IT departments just don’t want to hear about. Although it has improved greatly, the damage is done, and many CIO’s in Australia have turned their back on IBM in this space.

    The real power of Lotus Notes remains with the server, Domino. Using Traveler or iNotes would be a good bet, and running version 8 in basic mode for a client, rather than standard will already make life alot easier. Also, IBM have release XPages which brings Domino into the Web 2.0 era, something that has been well overdue for some time and is perhaps too little too late.

    I would expect that seniors within M$ know that their collaboration stack is immature, so they’ll convince clients to migrate mail first. This helps M$ and looks like a quick win, but really it’s a trap for the client.

    It does no favour to the client as they discover, the hard way, that it will cost millions to migrate existing apps. The IT manager trots over to the business stakeholders to give them this news. The client throws their hands in the air and refuses to migrate the apps. Now, the IT dept is left holding 2 babies as it runs in a hybrid mode for years maintaining double licenses for Notes and M$. I can’t blame the business stakeholders for the push-back. Who wants to pay twice for apps you already have.

    Thus the hybrid model is the only option in those cases, and Notes goes into caretaker mode while they work out how to pay for the re-development of existing applications. So, the TCO benefits sold to them in the beginning rapidly disappear.

    All I will say is, if you’re gonna move, be very sure about your gap analysis and get the business buy-in otherwise you’re gonna have twice as much complexity for the same result and M$ laughs all the way to the bank.

    • +1

      Microsoft are definitely winning business away from Lotus simply on pricing, completely dropping their pants to get deals over the line sometimes.

      It’s also true that IBM aren’t really doing much about it – there’s no reason they couldn’t adopt similar marketing tactics. One wonders if their heart is still in it.

      It’s still every bit a match for Exchange.

      • “It’s still every bit a match for Exchange.”

        That’s not what I hear from most end users (not the IT managers or CIOs etc). Most end users I have spoken to hate Notes with a passion and can’t wait to migrate to Exchange or even Gmail.

        • @Renai. Alot of CIO’s hate Notes “with a passion”. I have heard and seen it to. But if you test them and ask what is so bad about it, in most cases it’s based on ignorance or “i just don’t like it”. In the hands of a capable Domino Administrator, I have seen CIO’s sing it’s praises.

          Once again, IBM have shown their limited capabilities (despite being 400k people globally), by not supporting the training services required to run their technology. The CIO’s hatred of Notes is in many cases a result of bad execution of strategy. Here’s why.

          I worked at a place where we had to push Quickr. There is no training in Australia for users / administrators / developers for Quickr. FAIL.

          How is it possible to keep a product going when there is no support from the vendor. Or if there is any support, it’s so hideously expensive, it makes Drupal look like a good alternative. Then you got the problems with IBM account reps.

          We had heard from customers IBM sales reps pushing Quickr as a complete “intranet solution”. I fell off my chair. This is the sort of amateur ignorance I had seen from IBM time and time again. But I can’t entirely blame them, IBM management have created this problem and are generally “dumb as a box of hammers” when it comes to executing strategy. They lumped Domino and Websphere in the same camp and the margins for commission on Websphere are many times higher than Domino. There is a massive bureaucracy in there and I found myself a few years ago, getting bounced around internally before I could get definitive answers about licensing. FAIL

          So, you got these salesman out there, uneducated about Domino, and see the fat margins for Websphere, and these guys are under the pump to meet quota. The magic calculations for licensing from IBM about Domino are nearly as complex as cracking the Enigma code. So, putting together a solution with this sort of complexity for lower margin is the last thing on their mind. IBM sales reps are big game hunters they just want to go out there and shoot a farkin elephant, not potter around for deer.

          If IBM stopped promoting internally and actually got some real IT management talent externally this insanity might end.

        • I doubt this.

          Notes is the client – Domino is the server. Most users haven’t got a clue what sits behind Outlook (or Notes for that matter), let alone know that it is called Exchange.

    • We upgraded this last weekend from the older Notes 7.0 to Notes 8.5. In 4-5 hours the administrator and one more technician guys upgraded all our servers and about 350 users spread over 8 branch offices. Malf that time was to upgrade the desktop clients in the corporate office, the only office not on Citrix. All other users are running Notes through Citrix, so even if their desktops would not have enough memory (they got 512MB as standard, 5+ year old computers), they can still run Notes 8.5 with good performance.
      The only thing we haven’t done is to deploy the new mail template, as we wanted to modify it first with some additional functionality the users require. That should be done today, though.
      I would like to see the same upgrade and modifications being done with Exchange and Outlook…

      • I have heard that Notes is pretty easy to upgrade compared to Exchange.

        Man … really — 512MB of RAM? You need to cut your users some slack and upgrade them … that’s ridiculous!

        • Yes, it is very easy to upgrade. Go to server. Shut down the Domino server. Pop in the CD or run the installer. Wait a few minutes while the upgrade is performed. Launch server. Wait a little while for designs and databases to be updated. Done.
          This S*** Just Works. :-)

          And why do they need more moemory? All software they use is accessed through Citrix. So the only thing executing on the client is the browser. Word, our document imaging system and of course Notes with all our applications are accessed through Citrix. I am sure that you, as a technology writer, is familiar with Citrix? But even on my test computer, with 512 MB memory, the full Eclipse-based Notes client works decent, and the C++ based Basic client is flying.

          I run Notes 8.5.2 at home, both in Windows XP and in Ubuntu. And my Domino server (also ruuning 8.5.2) is a 600 MHz Celeron with 384 MB or ram and a 30 GB harddisk. Beat that with Exchange! :-)

  3. “The company is believed to have been previously using IBM’s Lotus Notes/Domino package” – So, you’re not even sure exactly what product they were using until now? Where’s the credibility in “believed”?

    “organisations are increasingly dumping Lotus Notes/Domino”. So how exactly do you define “increasingly”? Where are the facts?

    This is second rate reporting at its best!

    • hey Steve,

      actually I have a statement from their IT manager about the Lotus Notes decision, which I will add into the article tomorrow morning. In addition, I have reported on a number of large Australian organisations which have switched off Lotus Notes in favour of Exchange over the past year, as I noted in the article.



    • @Steve. Unfortunately, Renai is on the money about the demise of Lotus in Australia. I have heard from other sources in IBM, (not first hand). Double digit declines in percentage points for license renewals.

      M$ have totally smashed the market here, and you can also guage it by the lack of jobs offered on seek and the like. The end result is that the customer base will be picking up the pieces. I have spoken to a few people about Sharepoint and it seems it’s “great, but don’t try and customise it”. So, this is significant weak point IBM has (again) not leveraged. Notes / Domino is the fastest design and deploy technology out there today.

      IBM does have reasonably good offering, but it’s the best kept secret they have.

  4. Renai,

    [*Snip* no insults please — Renai]

    [You should be] reporting on the failure of Microsoft to deliver on their extravagant claims about how easy it is for organisations to migrate or convert their hundreds or even thousands of Lotus Notes applications across to Sharepoint.

    Take Westfield for example, why is their mission critical Leasing application still running on a Domino server more than 8 years after switching over from Notes mail to Outlook/Exchange and a major investment in Sharepoint. Also two years ago, Westfield implemented a global life safety reporting system running on a Lotus Domino platform that is used by every Westfield shopping centre and construction project in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the USA. That is over 5,500 new users.

      • @Renai. I think Ian makes a reasonable request to be equally as vigorous with MS as you are with Lotus/IBM. I have a passionate disliking for IBM simply because they’re never get it. But I do support the product on it’s merits. In the end it’s all bits and bytes, and no product is perfect.

        • Wake up and smell the roses sunshine … we’ve done plenty of stories about Exchange -> Google Apps migrations and will do more. We’ll do stories about Lotus Notes when people start to roll it out. Until then we’ll do migration stories because …. THAT’S WHAT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING.

          • Yep.. the general trend is migration away at the moment. But you can’t say that you’re unbiased which is what Ian Randall is referring to. Looks like I am gonna get caught up in the “bias” argument….so here goes.

            However, a quick trawl over your articles and references gives MS a free kick most of the time whilst you bag out Gmail / Groupwise and Lotus. So, to say that you’re biased towards MS is not far from the truth. I know you’ll hide behind the “yea! but that’s what everyone is doing!” argument, but you are on the record as saying Lotus Notes is a legacy platform, which in the cold light of day is a fallacy. A legacy platform is one in which that is no longer updated/changed. IBM’s marketing strategy is the thing that is legacy.

            The current server release (8.5) will run on existing h/w but with around 30-50% performance improvement on CPU usage as well as significant reduction in storage requirements using DAO’s. Hardly the characteristics of a legacy platform.


            Current Exchange upgrades require that you ebay your existing 32 bit servers and goto 64 bit.

            For instance, I think COSBOA is a case where they had tried the Sharepoint/Exchange, and had the guts to return to Domino. Now, that would be something worth writing about. Give’em a call, get their story and I would be happy for you to prove me wrong…


          • Domino servers might not force you to move on 64 bit servers, but on decent load will run on the limitations for memory on 32 bit systems. Then you talk to IBM support and they say : What are your plans to move to 64 bit?
            Point is: 64 bit is necessary anyway to get the new features in new software (Xpages)

            Lotus Notes is full of “Gotcha”; see
            “Entry not found in Index” deleting documents from Search view

          • >Point is: 64 bit is necessary anyway to get the new features in new software (Xpages)
            That is news to me. I am running Xpages on my 32-bit Domino server at home, on 32-bit Windows Server 2003, on a Celeron 600 MHz with 384 MB…
            You got any sources for that claim?

            >Lotus Notes is full of “Gotcha”; see
            >“Entry not found in Index” deleting documents from Search view

            Sounds like you try to delete a document that has already been deleted, but where the full text index has not been updated yet. What update frequency do you have for the FT index on the database?
            Otherwise that error message is usually from where a view lookup is done but no documents/data returned. That would indicate a bug in the application (database) or badly written code. You can’t blame Notes itself for bad code written by your developer.

  5. There are so many stories out there about how companies are leaving Notes for Exchange or GMail, but nobody seems to do much follow-up on these stories to see where the organization is at with their migration 3-5 years down the road. Well, that is of course if that organization is using Notes for what it was intended, collaboration. I can tell you from experience that Microsoft was low balling the cost to get our company off Notes so much it wasn’t even funny, but when we asked about converting of our custom applications you could hear a pin drop. Sure they could move some apps to Sharepoint, but the true custom apps would take a crazy amount of time which just makes the environment for users even more fun when they have to use the Microsoft and IBM products depending on what they are doing.

    Bottom line in my mind is that if an organization isn’t using Notes for its collaboration they are missing out on the many points stated numerous times earlier.

    Maybe our friendly, open-minded author will give some due diligence on comparing IBM, Microsoft, and Google in an Apple to Apple comparison.

  6. Wow, Lotus Notes articles get even more hate than NBN articles! I think you’ve found your niche, Renai :-)

  7. Unbelievable how very wrong this article is.

    – Domino is so much more than just email, you get extremely more for your money
    – The picture & references are outdated and represent only the opinion of the author

    Talking about references,
    I am migrating customers >off< from Microsoft into Lotus, those have 10.000 users and up, and those projects are running NOW. The main difference: Lotus just doesn't make any noise with this fact. So customers believe this Microsoft nonsense!

    Even large customers such as Daimler who have been in the news for moving away from Domino will keep it for the application landscape. So in other words : they KEEP the Notes Client, and they KEEP the Domino app servers.

    A customer wanted to migrate off from Domino to Exchange. it was a company with 15.000 users.
    They started a project, burned a lot of money and finally understood that they need to spend 3x the money on server hardware, 2x the amount of money for WAN links and 2x the money for licenses to get exactly the same. This doesn't even include the cost for migrating.
    Finally they understood the value of Lotus, and were kicking Microsoft out.
    Their platform does consist of just 11 servers, which includes : Domino, Sametime, QuickR serving mail, calendar, chat, meeting, collaboration, mobile users, and more than 1000 applications.

    So if you really want to save $$$, then start to look into Lotus products and throw away your Microsoft platform!


  8. Believe or not
    I have worked on both the platforms and anypoint of time Microsoft cant beat Lotus Notes.
    Just being fancy cant give you 100% security.
    Lotus is not an email, it comes with hell of other Packages.
    Better to stick with Lotus Notes

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