Queensland Health’s email system transformation, which will see its existing Novell Groupwise platform replaced with Microsoft Exchange 2007, is due to be fully rolled out across the department’s 80,000 users by 2013, according to a media statement issued by Chief Information Officer Ray Brown.
The project has cost Queensland Health $29 million to date, a significant portion of which has been spent on hardware infrastructure required to support the new system. The core purchase for new system was made in May 2010 under the Bligh Labor government.
The new email platform is currently being used within the Mackay Hospital and Health Service by over 2,100 staff.
However, it is likely that the Department had originally intended to have made more progress in the program’s implementation by this point in time. Timelines have been impacted by the high profile failure in 2010 of its payroll system upgrade.
“There is no doubt that the system’s introduction has been delayed as a result of the payroll crisis,” conceded Brown in a statement.
“A slower, more progressive introduction has been adopted as a direct result of learnings from this,” he said.
Queensland Health has elected to continue with the replacement of GroupWise with Microsoft Exchange, despite the new Coalition government putting the brakes on the whole-of-government Identity, Directory and Email Services (IDES) program, originally due to be completed by December 2009. IDES also featured a large scale consolidation of government accounts onto Exchange 2007.
The project was scrapped in June 2012, with Minister for Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts Ros Bates suggesting that “a potential cloud-based whole-of-Government email solution” could form the basis of an alternative messaging platform.
It was heavily criticised in Queensland Auditor-General’s June 2010 Annual Report for significant delays, and eventually cancelled after costing over $46 million and migrating only 3,100 users by 2012, a fraction of its target of 80,000. The project was headed by IT infrastructure shared services provider CITEC.
Under the three-way split of Queensland’s shared services which took place in November 2010, Queensland Health and the Department of Education and Training are responsible for their own internal services, separate from the rest-of-government shared service provider.
A number of other government departments are undergoing similar upgrades from existing email platforms to Microsoft Exchange. NSW Health is expected to complete its email systems consolidation onto a Microsoft Exchange platform by December. Delimiter reported in June that the NSW Parliament is also planning an upgrade from Novell platforms to Microsoft Exchange, and has approached the market for the required IT infrastructure. Tasmanian’s whole-of-government email migration from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange, announced in 2010, is also underway.
Queensland Health recently advertised a role for an Exchange Operator for Exchange Messaging Services, requiring “day to day operational tasks associated with Microsoft Exchange and related technologies to ensure service outcomes”. The role is advertised as a temporary full-time position for up to 12 months, with possible extensions.