Immigration dumps Lotus in Microsoft focus


news The Federal Department of Immigration and Citizenship has revealed as part of documents associated with a major IT outsourcing initiative that it is midway through the process of migrating off its Lotus Notes/Domino email platform and onto Microsoft’s rival Outlook/Exchange system, as well as a number of other modernisation initiatives.

The department is one of Australia’s largest consumers of technology-related goods and services, with some 8,000 staff working in Australia and overseas, and a total operating budget of some $2.2 billion, of which hundreds of millions of dollars each year are typically spent on technology support. In the half-decade from 2006, for example, the department’s colossal Systems for People project was one of the largest IT projects of any kind Australia-wide — with an initial cost of $495 million, plus several subsequent increases.

The department maintains a sizable internal IT department and a dedicated chief information officer, Tony Kwan (pictured), but is also supported by several key outsourcers; Unisys, which primarily supports the department’s desktop infrastructure, as well as providing biometric and identity management services associated with the immigration process, and CSC, which supports the department’s mainframe and mid-range servers.

This week, DIAC put all of that work out to the market, with Unisys and CSC being forced to defend their ground against competitive bids from global giants likely including rivals such as IBM and Fujitsu, as well as mid-tier players such Dimension Data and others.

In those documents, DIAC revealed that event as it put such a large tranche of its services out to the market, it was also concurrently conducting a large body of modernisation work with respect to its IT infrastructure. For example, the department is currently conducting what it described as its “Desktop Modernisation Program”, which will see its 10,500 PCs and 1,750 laptops upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7. Microsoft Office 2003 will be upgraded to Office 2010, and Lotus Notes/Domino 6.5 and 8.5 will be phased out, with the department planning to shift to Microsoft’s Outlook/Exchange ecosystem as a replacement.

“Residual Lotus Notes business applications will be redeveloped in the future,” wrote the Department in its tender documentation.

Microsoft Project and Visio will also be upgraded to the 2010 versions of the software, and Immigration will deploy Symantec’s Endpoint Protection platform as a security platform replacement. The GRAS remote access system will be replaced with Citrix’s Access Gateway. For administration, Microsoft’s System Centre Configuration Manager will be deployed. The entire body of work is due to be completed by December 2012.

Core environment
As part of its tender documents, Immigration went into great detail regarding not only the desktop, but also the back office environment that responding IT services firms will be expected to support. The department currently supports its core border management and “client services” functions through an IBM z-series mainframe, running the vendor’s z/OS operating system. Its main platform based in Melbourne is capable of 1642 MIPS, and it also operates shared mainframe infrastructure at a Sydney datacentre for the purposes of disaster recovery.

In terms of storage, the mainframe uses 4.2 terabytes of data on a shared Hitachi Data Systems storage area network; both its mainframe processing and mainframe storage requirements are “relatively stable”. 86.5 terabytes of tape (IBM brand) space are used in addition, and there’s a 200Mbps encrypted link between Immigration’s production and DR mainframe facilities. IBM Datapower appliances take some XML processing load from the mainframe.

Immigration also has an extensive mid-range server environment, running commercial off the shelf software, as well databases, for example, web servers and J2EE containers. Here the department mainly runs IBM AIX, Windows Server 2003/2008 and Red Hat Linux, with most of the Windows and Linux environments being virtualised with VMware. Most of the application servers are connected to shared HDS SAN storage, with a total of 500 terabytes available. McData switches are uses to connect the servers to the SANs.

In terms of these servers, there are four IBM P7-780 servers, 36 physical Sun Solaris servers (although Solaris is being decommissioned over the next year, with Linux replacing it) and some 89 physical x86 servers, and 87 IBM RISC 6000 servers, with the majority being located offshore. Lastly, for its state and territory branch offices, Immigration runs two servers each, providing file/print/directory servers and support for Microsoft SCCM. Each is connected to an EMC CLARiiON storage area network, with about 21 terabytes of storage; all replicated to Canberra for backup purposes, where there is about 196 terabytes of storage.

The Department is seeking service providers; in two separate contracts; to provide support for each side of its IT environment — the server environment and end user computing. Each contract is expected to be substantial, with the desktop contract under Unisys worth in the area of $25 million a year, and the server computing deal expected to be worth about the same.

As strange as this may sound, I loved reading Immigration’s tender documents this afternoon, because they provided a perfect example of the sorts of enterprise IT journeys which large Australian organisations are on right now.

Think about it: Like many organisations, Immigration is shifting off legacy communications platforms like Lotus Notes (another example would be Novell Groupwise) and onto Exchange. It’s upgrading its desktop to Windows 7 and the latest versions of Office and Microsoft’s other associated platforms such as Lync. It’s deploying Symantec Endpoint Protection for security. On the server, it’s keeping its mainframe infrastructure intact but not expanding it, while simultaneously virtualising everything with VMware and shifting off Solaris and onto Linux. It’s upgrading its Windows server software and deploying Systems Centre Configuration Manager.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should. Because this is basically what every Australian major organisation is doing right now with its technology platforms, if they haven’t already.

Immigration’s going for the bog standard rollout of 2012’s normal upgrades here, and I like what it’s doing. Government departments don’t want to be on the bleeding edge or testing anything too dangerously new in their IT environments. They should be outsourcing common tasks such as desktop and server support and deploying standardised platforms such as Microsoft Exchange. And that’s precisely what Immigration is doing.

Full marks to new Immigration chief information officer Tony Kwan. When it comes to these basics, it looks as though he’s maintaining his predecessor’s reputation for common sense and stability.


  1. > “Residual Lotus Notes business applications will be redeveloped in the future”

    By the Tooth Fairies, presumably.

    Lots of companies claim to make this move, but few of them ever do it; not all the way. They’ll move the email over, but even that often doesn’t happen smoothly. Sometimes, it doesn’t happen at all. But those line of business apps? They’ll be there in five, may ten years from now, working away, doing their thing.

    Meanwhile, the IT Management geniuses who made this decision will have, no doubt, moved on to bigger and better things, proud of that big IT upgrade/migration that they devised. Nobody will ask them why the Immigration Dept is still paying for Lotus licenses as well as Exchange….

    > Immigration’s going for the bog standard rollout of 2012′s
    > normal upgrades here, and I like what it’s doing. Government
    > departments don’t want to be on the bleeding edge or testing
    > anything too dangerously new in their IT environments

    Do you enjoy paying tax, Renai?

    I mean, God forbid that our government should do anything like *that*! I sure wouldn’t want Mr Kwan to grow a pair, and maybe investigate something new and different. Far better to go with the flow and hand over bazillions of our tax dollars to Microsoft at the earliest opportunity, I reckon. I mean, users won’t care if the latest versions of their whatever don’t do anything quicker or better than the versions that they’re replacing, anyway, right?

    And let me know if Mr Kwan ends up short of cash, mind. I’ll organise a whip ’round.

    • @ BrownieBoy
      While I agree with the first half of what you said,
      “I sure wouldn’t want Mr Kwan to grow a pair, and maybe investigate something new and different.”
      What would you propose they do? When you’re looking at 10,000 PCs and 8,000 staff, Microsoft products (in terms of Client/Server OS and related infrastructure technologies) are simply put, the best out there. I’m not saying they’re perfect in any sense, but seriously – what alternatives are there? Apple? Linux? Seriously? They’re looking to cut down cost of IT services – not increase it.

      With regards to bleeding edge – a business/company/department that size goes down that path at significant risk. I saw some places go to Windows Vista as soon as that came out. One guess how that turned out. Yes, sometimes the bleeding edge is actually damn good (Microsoft’s new System Centre 2012 products are significantly better than their predecessors), but as a business you need to assess whether the risk is really worth it.

  2. Why Window 7 and not Windows 8?
    What is the vision for the next 10 years or more. How much $ will be saved by moving across to Exchange from Lotus/Domino and how many Lotus Notes applications needs to be rewritten and how much that will cost on a top of the migration and license fee. I would like to see risk assessment.
    Is this recommended by AGIMO?

      • hey John,

        thanks for your comment; it is appreciated. After Windows 8 has been out for a while I’d be interested to get AGIMO’s thoughts on it; to my mind the user interface has been too radically overhauled to make it useful for government, but I’m sure you guys will have evaluated it in much more depth.


    • @ Servant
      Windows 8 hasn’t been released yet. Plus, it’s shaping up to be a non-event – it was released too close to Windows 7 and doesn’t have any features worth risking the upgrade for. It might be a good consumer OS (yet to be seen), but for a business that’s already invested in Windows 7, it’s generally not going to happen. Windows 7 will be the next XP – it’ll stick around in businesses for another 10 years (mostly, because it’s actually damn good!).

      In terms of saving money going from Lotus to Exchange – a lot of government departments are covered by a global Microsoft agreement and (essentially) get the product for free. Once set up, exchange is very low maintenance (unless you let stupid people touch it), and the community/application support for it is significant (unlike Lotus Notes). Sure – there’ll be some applications that require re-writing – though there’ll be a lot that can be replaced by equivalent applications that already support/integrate with Outlook/Exchange.

      • Again, +1 to what Leon said.

        IMNSHO Windows 8 is going to be a non-starter in medium or large Australian organisations because of the radically changed user interface. It will be the release after that, or when/if Windows-based tablets become popular, that Australian IT departments begin to look at it; although I suspect they never will.

        And Exchange is the clear winner for corporate email at this point. The only real choice is the hosting model — in-house, third-party, or cloud computing via Microsoft (Office 365 etc).

        • And you absolutely must go with the winner, Renai, because…. actually, I give in. Why does a company have to pick the “winner” here?

          Is it because if you go with another email system, be it Lotus or Google or whatever, you can’t:

          * Read emails sent from companies using Exchange? No, you can do that
          * Send emails to other companies using Exchange and have expect them to be read? No, you can do that.
          * Send and receive invitations from companies using Exchange and have them integrate into your own calendar? No, you can do that too.

          So, there’s actually no reason that you have to go with the “winner” and be a “loser” if you don’t, is there?

          As for the “only choice” being hosted vs local Exchange, I heard a story last night of a certain large Aussie company that just moved from Lotus to hosted Exchange. Emails now take a minimum of 20 minutes to arrive!

  3. As somebody who sell migration projects, I just love these projects. It usually takes a lot of money – I get big comissions – and time and I can put multiple resources. I prefer selling Microsoft than Lotus projects as it basically takes at least twice the time to deploy, develop and administer. As a techincal person I was with multiple certifications on both MS and IBM, this migrations are just a waste of money and should be audited as both platforms have their pros and cons but migrating from Domino to Exchange means they are taking away collaboration and aplication dev capabilities so organizations now have to add Sharepoint which is a pain to develop on and very limited to develop on. I hope this goverment office is prepared to fire some people down the road when theynseenis taking forever to get off Domino as it just happened to at least 5 migrations I was aware of. Just to give you a quick example, for one of my big customers Lync for 8k users was costing them 4 millions vs Sametime was less than half with more features, their licences more than duplicated as they now pay for Sharepoint and Exchange instead of just Domino and they went from 2 admins and 2 developers to 9 people and are now looking to outsorce to India to save costs. happy now!
    Let the migration starts!

    • @ Alex
      When I first started reading your post, I thought it HAD to be sarcasm. Then I realised you’re really really good with sarcasm, or you believe what you said – which is scary.

      The significant majority of government agencies, schools and universities are covered by existing enterprise license agreements. The cost of Sharepoint, Exchange, Lync, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 in terms of licensing? Zero. That’s right – nothing. Sure, somewhere along the line it costs the Government something, but it’s already been paid for elsewhere. Though, as “someone who sells migration projects”, I’m sure you were already aware of this.

      Time it takes to migrate to something like Lync? If you engage a company like HP, Dell, Dimension Data, etc, then you’ll be looking at a few resources and a month or two of time. Engage a decent smaller firm who does this kind of thing often, and you’re looking at a single resource and perhaps a week or so (at most – any time after that is caused by delays from the client). Same thing with an Exchange migration. Months and a number of resources from one of the big guys. Weeks and one or two resources from the smaller guys.

      How do I know this stuff? Because I actually DO do this kind of stuff.

        • @ John
          I know it’s not free – at some stage in the line it has to be paid for. The point I was trying to make to Alex is that for all intents and purposes, for a lot of the government departments, the products are free. Yes, certain departments and the government still pay for it, but for a lot of them (the ones I deal with at least), are covered by the agreements of other (higher up) departments.

          Still, even those that pay for the agreements/licenses only pay a fraction of the standard commercial/retail value of the licenses. In the whole scheme of things, it’s pocket change.

          • IBM, Oracle, SAP, they all have government and education/non profit license agreements. If that agency was paying top dollars for Lotus that was probably a lazy it manager or sales rep who didnt care for the right license agreement.

        • So considering this is about migrating so called “legacy” applications do you still have to pay licensing cost to maintain S&S during the term of migration on Lotus Notes as per this article, or other applications. Taking into consideration other streams of feedback here saying it can take up to 5+ years to migrate mail and application are there actual real savings being realised, or are you actually doubling your cost by having to manage 2 infrastructure, 2 platforms, 2 applications, just so you can have a new email system which does the same thing… send and receive email??? So there is a saving of $80 million against Microsoft but what is the true saving, if any from such a project taking into consideration all costs. If I was journalist, I think there is a much more interesting story here…..

      • @leon

        Ok.. I never said migrate Lync. There is no migration path from Sametime to Lync. Mail.. You can use Binary Tree or Quest.. Those are the leaders out there.. 8000 users to migrate to mail.. Give me a number.. 2 months, yeah right, not even Quest will tell you can do it. Migration of Notes apps to Sharepoint.. Sure you can migrate standard templates to Sharepoint using quest.. Custom apps with business logic, workflow, agents, etc… You better buy a third party tool or move to something else because you will spend long time to build it on sharepoint. Still want to debate you are the only one who knows about migrations?. It is funny you say you know this stuff because you do it… I know more because i have done these migrations both ways and my customers just see a better ROI when go from Exchange to Domino, and lets not even talk about server consolidation… Lync needing 6 servers for full deployment and 4 servers for exchange!!!! You can run the same on a single System i. Saddly, it is all about politics and CIOs wanting a big project to show up instead of getting their platform fixed up (same applies from domino to exchange) at the end, the company will end up running 2 platforms for a long time, paying more licences and just wasting money. Again, I will sell the project and will do it right, but IBM has a more robust and superior technology.. Did you know exchange post offices is just like cc-mail used 20 years ago… The only thing i can tell you is that I like the outlook client better, but as it only works for mail and no apps ( have you seen XPages in Notes) Notes is still technically superior. MS will say migration will be painless and as a MS Partner i must not contradict them..but it will always be a ling and expensive process…

  4. And just when the NBN debate was slowing down, now we have another Good vs Evil which should take us up to the Olympics if not beyond.

    And they wonder why paper newspapers are losing readers!

  5. I am always astonished how many shops had Lotus Notes. And for many years customers are migrating and there still seem so many left. Kudos to IBM who can sacrifice thousands of customers and still make a fortune.
    @Alex If things are so bad why don’t they switch back? Maybe a prove how painful their experience was with Lotus Notes (I don’t know)!?
    Notes people really need a new strategy. For years they are blaming customers who migrate to Exchange as stupid morons and still a lot of companies prefer to be stupid morons than using Notes and Domino.
    What a pity as this once was a great platform and in some way still is.

    • I have seen just 1 or 2 companies which have decided to roll back but after spending thousands or millions of dollars no company will migrate back. They will finish and then will fire some people so no one makes the same mistake.

      Dont get me wrong.. I have seen multiple succesful migrations but not without spending ton of money that could have been allocated into more important projects like ERPs, CRMs, Websites, etc..

      I used to work for a IBM Business Partner and most customer were running on aix, unix, solaris, 390, iSeries and no one would migrate to exchange for the lack of security. Thats why here in the US all major government agencies run IBM and Lotus. they both have pros and cons, but i would love to see companies being audited and reporting why they spent 5 millions dollar just to change email. Specially if they are tax dollars. Whoever wrote this article clearly stands behind Microsoft, in my case – i care for the ROI. Companies are also migrating from exchange to domino, the problem is that IBM doesnt go viral on marketing like microsoft. We always joked that IBM is run by engineers and MS is run by marketing people. Anyhow…email is a commodity and now is about Social Software which I think IBM is still the leader out there.

  6. You could take this article and substitute IMMI for DHS. DHS which is now Centrelink, Medicare, Child Services and the Department of Human Services, is in the middle of a migration from XP to Windows 7 and Lotus Notes to Exchange.

    Outlook and Exchange are now online and replace the existing Lotus Notes for email on the new Common Desktop. The existing Lotus Notes applications are being shut down or migrated. A timeline is set for Lotus Notes to be deprecated by the end of 2013. By January 2014 all of the new DHS ( ) will be on Windows 7 and Microsoft Outlook / Exchange. Along with this is Office from the existing 2003 / 2007 versions to 2010.

    This was reported before:
    Now it is halfway through.

Comments are closed.