It was only five years ago that diversified Australian company Amalgamated Holdings (AHL) caused controversy in Australia’s IT sector by becoming one of the few major groups to dump Microsoft’s Outlook/Exchange platform in favour of IBM’s troubled Lotus Notes/Domino suite. But now the company has gone back to Microsoft.
In December 2006, AHL revealed it would ditch an Outlook/Exchange install which was being used by parts of its business, as part of a wider consolidation plan. At the time, the company said it made sense to standardise the entire company on Notes, given the fact that it had dedicated business applications running on the IBM suite, as well as the more standardised collaboration tools.
AHL operates a number of entertainment and leisure facilities around the country and overseas — over 50 hotels and resorts, some 60 movie cinemas, the Thredbo Alpine Resort and more. Back in 2006, some of its core businesses — for example, the Rydges Hotel chain — was using Notes, and over the next year or so the company would, with the assistance of systems integrator IMC Communications, extend that install to the rest of its operations.
However, in a media release issued this week, IMC revealed AHL had gone back to its Microsoft roots.
“Due to the increased use of new technologies such as iPhones, PDAs and other smartphone technology, it became imperative that AHL update its Lotus Notes email collaboration platform,” a case study published by IMC this week states.
“The business decided that it needed to migrate over 2,000 mailboxes and users from Lotus Notes to the Microsoft Exchange platform,to further enhance business functionality and take advantage of easier ways to connect staff and enable staff productivity.”
“AHL investigated the options of managing the migration to Microsoft Exchange in-house, however it was deemed that the cost, time, skills and resources required, were too large for the business to independently cover. The answer was to outsource the migration process to IT specialists.”
In the end, as a number of other large Australian organisations have recently done, AHL and IMC decided to shift the company’s collaboration system onto Microsoft’s hosted Business Productivity Online Suite.
The decision meant the company’s several thousand email accounts were transferred across to Microsoft’s BPOS server farm, which IMC noted was based in Hong Kong. Microsoft has never directly disclosed where Australian BPOS customers have their data hosted, but the company does not maintain a BPOS datacentre in Australia.
The company’s closest BPOS facility geographically is believed to be located in Singapore.
The news comes as Australian organisations are increasingly migrating off platforms such as Lotus Notes and Novell GroupWise, which were popular throughout the past several decades but have not been able to maintain their position in the market compared with Microsoft’s popular Outlook/Exchange ecosystem, which is now extending into cloud computing services.
Google’s Apps platform is currently seen as the main competitor to Microsoft’s offerings for new email system installations, but the search giant has so far failed to make major in-roads into either the financial or public sectors in Australia, despite building a strong presence in small business and firms with distributed or franchised operations.