AHL dumps Exchange for Lotus … and back again


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.

Image credit: Aidy Spencer, Creative Commons


  1. LOL.. This is always a good giggle, hardly a “functional need” pushed them to BPOS. Hasn’t anyone around there heard about Lotus Traveler ?


    “Android phones and tablets, Apple iPhone 4 and iPad, Microsoft Windows® Mobile, and Nokia Symbian. Lotus Notes Traveler is a no charge mobile solution for entitled Lotus Notes and Domino customers.”

    Note the reference to “NO CHARGE”…. Which sounds alot easier and cheper than engaging IMC who are required to do the migration, and charge consulting rates for it. Once it’s done, data has to round trip from Singapore ?

    Sounds like the IT management team are big users of IE… http://edition.cnn.com/2011/TECH/web/07/29/internet.explorer.dumb/index.html ;)

    • just so you know – that IE vs IQ article is a hoax.

      Maybe AHL just really doesn’t like Lotus?

      • Yep new that..


        But seeing the “reasons” for migration though makes me wonder sometimes if there is any truth to it..LOL…

        Just a over the technically shallow, manufactured reasons for these migrations. Wish they would just be honest about it…. For instance, “We already hated Notes, and we’re looking for ANY reason to migrate, so we’ll spend some money to go from an email system to another.. email system..”

        • A cynical person might say that a certain decision maker had a few nice lunches, dinners and golf days with IBM and went to Lotus. Once their contract was done, AHL gets are more realistic view and back to something more mainstream.

          • or equally cynically, that they had a good time at the races with Microsoft and that wooed them back.

  2. Cynical or not, what is apparent is that the stated justification doesn’t hold up well on their merits for a 2000 user migration. Mobile access would not be the sole driver from a technical stand point, despite it appearing to be the motivator. I have nothing against IMC, they did their jobs as instructed. Great if you can get the work.

    But if this is the stated reasons for migration, as CEO I would wonder what the heck my CIO is doing asking for the cash to shuffle my email system around, and even sending all of the traffic off shore to an autocracy with un-enforceable rights to protect my organisations email and data traffic. I’m guessing there was a business case that had some serious projected $$$ savings estimated over 3 – 5 years.

  3. Actually, this is quite a worrying trend for people investing in AHL. There’s really only one good justification for changing from one major suite to another these days; It makes sense to have the entire company on a single platform.

    It doesn’t matter if that platform is Microsoft, Lotus or Google. It just needs to be singular. All of the big three are well supported and compatible enough with modern devices.

    Swinging from one option to another for other reasons (especially because you haven’t heard of Traveller) is a good indicator of dysfunctional IT Management – or an executive band which concentrates too much on the technology and not enough on the business strategy.

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