Qld Transport in huge IT infrastructure refresh



news Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads has kicked off an extremely wide-ranging refresh of its underlying desktop IT infrastructure which is slated to see legacy products such as Lotus Notes, IBM Sametime, Windows XP and Novell’s file, print and application deployment software replaced with more popular and updated equivalents.

The department — one of the largest in Queensland, with a large central office in Brisbane and branch offices scattered throughout the state — recently released tender documents for a project which it terms its Productivity and Collaboration Improvement project (PCI). In the documents, the department noted that it was currently running a large number of software platforms currently considered to be outmoded by most enterprise IT departments around Australia.

For example, the department currently runs Windows XP on most of its desktop PCs. It will replace Microsoft’s decade-old operating system with Windows 7/Windows 8. Microsoft Office 2003 will be updated to Office 2010 or 2013, SharePoint 2007 will be updated to SharePoint 2010, IBM’s Sametime collaboration platform will be replaced with Microsoft Lync, and Novell’s File and Print and ZenWorks platforms will be replaced with Windows File and Print , as well as Microsoft’s System Center Operations Manager (SCOM).

One of the other significant upgrades the state is planning to implement is a replacement of IBM’s Lotus Notes platform with Microsoft’s Outlook/Exchange platform; although the department noted that it could move to a “cloud” platform, pending guidance from Queensland’s central whole of government office of the chief information officer on the issue.

Queensland was previously planning to supply its whole of government email needs through a centralised project begun under the previous Labor administration. However, the new LNP government revealed plans in July to dump the troubled project, with then-IT Minister Ros Bates highlighting the possibility to shift to a “cloud-based solution” instead. The state has not yet finalised its plans in the area.

“TMR, in consultation with QGCIO, are currently considering whether to proceed with on-premise or cloud based solutions for messaging and unified communication services. A formal position will be taken on this strategy prior to the PCI Project commencing the messaging and unified communication design activities,” wrote the department.

It appears as though the department’s PCI project has been under way for some time already. In its documents, the department noted that the project dated back to 2011. “In late 2011, TMR partnered with Microsoft to design, build and implement a small (50 users) managed proof of concept based on Microsoft’s collaboration and business productivity platform. Success through the [proof of concept] provided early validation and momentum leading to the establishment of the PCI project,” the department wrote.

With the PCI project, TMR aims to achieve the following aims. It wants to pursue activities that reduce cost and simplify existing complexity – both across the back-end of the TMR ICT Portfolio and from the perspective of the ICT system user base; significantly improve support for Departmental objectives of a more connected, collaborative, dynamic and agile workforce; upgrade aging, in some areas, soon to be unsupported technologies, and in doing so to align with whole-of- government standards and strategies; create a more dynamic and agile workforce (improve workforce mobility); and align with Whole of Government direction in a number of technologies, allowing seamless government integration and cost reduction.

“TMR has established the PCI Project to increase productivity through improved collaboration across the department,” the department wrote. “The project will focus on providing the department with up-to-date technology solutions that offer the best collaboration capabilities. Basically, we want to improve the way we’re working, and the way we’re working together.”

Currently it is looking for a partner to assist it with the implementation of the project. That company will conduct a pilot where the department’s new desktop will be provided to up to 500 users throughout Queensland to prove their capability in conducting a large scale technology transformation. If that goes well, the rest of TMR’s staff will receive the upgrade.

TMR has already begun substantial work on a number of portions of the larger IT infrastructure upgrade, as per the table below. For example, it is currently replicating all user accounts from its existing Novell identity platform to Microsoft Active Directory; it is migrating its existing Windows XP workstations to Active Directory; it has commenced application packaging for Windows 7, and is currently completing the design of its Microsoft File and Print environment.


In addition, the department wrote: “TMR has formally announced that it plans to decommission the current Lotus Domino/Notes environment and as such no new application development is expected in this environment. Any development within this environment should be purely to maintain the existing application functionality.” It hopes to have completed the entire project by June 2014.

What TMR is doing here appears to be bog standard — and in fact this is the kind of upgrade which most major Australian organisations went through between three and five years ago — showing that things really are quite a bit out of date in the Queensland Government when it comes to technology at the moment.

Migrating off Novell and Lotus Notes, upgrading desktop operating systems to Windows 7 and shifting email at least onto Exchange, possibly into a hosted or “cloud” environment? At this stage I consider these kinds of moves to be basic hygiene for any major organisation. I do count myself pleasantly surprised that TMR is definitely moving to Windows 7 — we’ve heard many murmurs from Queensland recently that the government might not have been able to afford to migrate off XP. I’m sure anyone who has used Windows 7 for any length of time will tell you how much better it is than XP … there really is no comparison.

As I wrote in June last year about a very similar upgrade in the New South Wales Parliament:

There’s not really much to say here, apart from to welcome the NSW Parliament to the 21st century. It looks like the organisation’s IT platform has been woefully out of date, and I can imagine the state’s parliamentarians and their staff have often been avoiding using it entirely; I’m sure many within the Parliament bring their own MacBooks with Gmail into work instead of using these systems, as I am informed is also common within the Federal Parliament. All that the NSW Parliament is doing here is migrating onto platforms which are already overwhelmingly dominant within the private sector.

Congratulations to TMR for finally upgrading its technology infrastructure to the current decade.

Image credit: TMR


  1. “we’ve heard many murmurs from Queensland recently that the government might not have been able to afford to migrate off XP”

    I’m sure they will figure that out half way through the deployement.

  2. “I’m sure anyone who has used Windows 7 for any length of time will tell you how much better it is than XP … there really is no comparison.”

    No argument there. But I would question what productivity benefits can be gained from upgrading to Windows 7 when XP will suffice. Has a CBA been done on this? ;-)

    • Yeah, XP works for me (at work)! Uptime 4-6 months (usually interrupted by building power failure). All I run is Outlook (which I hate), ITSM (which everyone hates), and dozens of putty sessions… yet to see how Win 7 would benefit me :-)

  3. The previous proposed whole of government email system (IDES) was essentially cloud based with Outlook the front end. Critically it was designed around the specific government need to keep good records as required by the Public Records Act. I haven’t read the tender proposal so I don’t know how they propose to cover that off.
    TRIM is widely used within Qld government but whether it will or can maintain a place is not known to me.

  4. What a colossal waste of the taxpayer’s money to “upgrade” existing products to versions that do little more – in some cases, considerably less – than the incumbents.

    I’ve been using Windows 7 for some length of time now and it’s no better than XP. Its only “advantage” is that it’s going to be supported beyond next year and XP isn’t. Other than that, there’s not a single “must have” feature in Windows 7 that I can think of… except of course, that it’s not Windows 8.

    That somebody can cite “basic hygiene” whilst simultaneously spruiking a huge Microsoft implementation is yet another example of the strange world that IT Journos inhabit. Because to continue that analogy, Microsoft products have yet to reach the stage of washing their hands after a visit to the toilet.

    • ‘I’ve been using Windows 7 for some length of time now and it’s no better than XP’

      what planet are you are? windows 7 is an even better OS than XP was.

      you obviously have never managed a large scale deployment (>1000) of windows machines, because having windows 7 rather than windows xp makes a huge difference in administration time and effectiveness.

      most of the benefits are not from a user-based perspective. ease of administration and the ability to manage the fleet of workstations and the software that sits on them is a huge plus for the system admins at TMR.

      • > you obviously have never managed a large scale deployment (>1000) of
        > windows machines

        Nope, can’t say I’ve had the pleasure.

        > having windows 7 rather than windows xp makes a huge difference in
        > administration time and effectiveness

        Really? How so?

        • if you’ve never done it, then you have no idea how moving to windows 7 makes the lives of those of us who do know, a whole lot easier.

          i am not going to dedicate a whole comment to explaining how. you obviously have no need for it. the internet can provide the answers you probably don’t want to read anyhow…

          but don’t criticise something that you obviously have no idea about (ie: large windows 7 deployments and the advantages it brings to large organisations like TMR)

          • > i am not going to dedicate a whole comment to explaining how

            nstead, you dedicated a whole comment to hurrumphing about how you’re *not* going to do that!

  5. I agree with tqft. The underlying design of IDES remians sound for the purposes for which it was designed, even if the implementation was mired in inter-departmental bickering, but the LNP seem intent on throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We will see what QGCIO says about email in the cloud, but I bet Microsoft are doing their best to make it Office365.

    Welcome to the 21st century TMR. Now when will they tackle the really hard question – getting TRAILS onto a modern, flexible, modular platform?

  6. This the current state of most QLD government agency

    It’s disappointing this hasnt been done two-three years ago. The way government operates make an IT operation and deployment difficult environment

    Because you can be beginning of planning a deployment then their a department change or election causes your project is cancelled or put on hold until further notice, For example I know of one government agency was moving to windows 7 and already invested alot of money into the project, Newman came into office and asked all department and government agency to shut everything down until a budget review.

    So you had a contractor whom had another 3-4 weeks left in their contract before they had to go. A windows 7 deployment which already costed the organization a large investment and only just got into pre-alpha build stage


  7. I don’t normally comment, but this report deserves a rant!!

    I agree with the author that some parts are “bog standard”, but I can speak with a fair level of authority as I’ve seen/been in a few organisations do something like this before (even lead some of these “transformations”/”improvements”). I’d like to see what all this costs the Queensland Tax Payer – perhaps it is all free because Microsoft is sponsoring this migration given the apparent blind switch to Microsoft technologies. Seems the Queensland Government has not learnt much and might be throwing the “baby out with the bath water”..

    I’ll share some more thoughts on technology…

    Windows XP to Windows 7/8 makes sense. April 2014 is not far away.

    Office 2003 to Office 2013 makes sense. A lot has changed over the last 10 years, don’t forget that ribbon from 2007 and help out your engineers, counter staff and road-builders). The staff must be desperate for change.

    Lotus Notes to Microsoft Outlook. Wooppee-do-dah. Email is a commodity! Who cares if its in the cloud or on-site Exchange. Lets just hope they don’t just blindly go Microsoft here and recognise you can have Outlook 2013 with just about any back-end (lots of different cloud providers, including some great smaller Australian operators). IBM and Queensland Government might be having a big spat, but I note that there is no mention of decommissioning/migrating IBM Lotus Notes applications. I shudder to think what this will cost after just making a quick enquiry (Qld IT world is small).

    SharePoint… Why not SharePoint 2013! Have these guys not heard of “social” computing and collaboration??? Get into the 21st century especially if this is meant to be Productivity & Collaboration Improvement.

    Sametime to Lync – IBM Sametime’s product is massively undervaluded, if you have invested in this and are now making the move I hope its is free …. baby, bath water…window. Many people wouldn’t understand the complexity and benefits of these tools.

    Novell File & Print, Zenworks to Microsoft. makes sense, but remember that Microsoft never caught up to Novell on Printing, but if the price is right Users couldn’t care less as long as it all happens quickly and really is an “inprovement” not just a saving to IT.

    SiteScope/Nagios to SCOM, whatever… just get on with it and don’t forget how much effort goes into setting up monitoring and again “baby.. bathwater.. window”. I hope someone can be bothered to do this properly.

    Google tells me this was all happening in May 2012. I guess that this is attempt 2, given the previous comment. I wonder what happened with that SAP upgrade!

    TMR are meant to be a big enterprise IT environment in Queensland. As I read this article I am left guessing how big this pill is … are they now also doing Microsoft HyperV, Microsoft Backup, Microsoft Security (Firewall/Anti-virus), Microsoft Mobile phones/tablets, Microsoft keyboards, Microsoft Mice, etc. Surely not!

    Finally, please don’t think I am a Microsoft hater, I just think a real world comment is worthy here!

    • Great comments. I’d have to agree with nearly all of them.

      Certainly, XP to 7 makes sense, and for the reason that you say. (Not sure about 8 though. Have you *used* it?!!)

      Notes to Outlook: we all know how this one plays out. Despite Renai forever referring to Outlook/Exchange as a “platform” or an “eco-system”, it’s neither. It’s a product that does email and calendaring and not much else. You can’t build anything on it. So, they’ll still be paying licences to run their Domino applications five years from now (and hoping nobody notices), while simultaneously claiming that they’ve “replaced Notes”.

      Sametime to Lync, hmmm… I’m not sure I’d want to be betting on Lync at this point in time. Lync used to part of Office but is now part of Skype, and that could open a whole can of worms. Look at how Microsoft has just unceremoniously dumped Microsoft Messenger for Skype. That way lies Lync’s future too?

      • @BrownieBoy.
        I haven’t used Windows 8 and have no “real world” authority on the topic – I would not support rolling out an enterprise desktop/notebook fleet to it. I think common sense would have to prevail and Windows 7 would be desktop/notebook Operating System with tablets and touch screens running Windows 8, probably mostly for the CIO and the few IT Executives to show off at conferences. I’m sure Windows 8 has a place, but not as the main OS rolled out as part of a major refresh. I pity the poor staff in TMR that are going to leave work one day and come to work the next to a series of substantial changes.

        Notes to Outlook, I agree with one exception, so often organisations stop paying to “use” Notes/Domino (really just S&S as they already own the software). I’ve seen and heard CIOs making the mistake of promising savings to CEOs, Management Boards, Owners, etc on IBM support only to find out when something goes wrong, a vulnerability is found, or they need to upgrade something else that integrates and they get caught out, lose their job and/or spend up big on redevelopment to cover up the mistake.

        I think we are on the same page and good luck to Qld Transport. I don’t expect we will hear any more in the media as no one likes to admit they made wrong decisions, but just remember it Queensland’s taxes and registration money that is funding this. I am sure this money would be much better spent fixing roads after flooding and delivering better services, unless of course it is all free and this is just the first of a series of press releases from Queensland Government on how Microsoft saved them from financial disaster.

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