Monash Uni takes Notes on collaboration

Linux ready for enterprise groupware and messaging

In one of the largest implementations of its kind in Australia, Monash University will replace its legacy messaging and groupware infrastructure with a site-wide implementation of IBM's Lotus Notes for some 60,000 staff and students.

Monash's existing messaging platform was introduced back in 1997 from the once-mighty Netscape.

With Netscape's enterprise software transferring to Sun Microsystems, but not the calendar, Monash went to market for a consolidated application that could provide more collaboration features.

Monash University's executive director of information technology services, Alan McMeekin, told Computerworld the significant drivers for choosing Notes were associated with working in collaborative teams in QuickPlace, which enables people to be grouped together to form teams, share documents and communicate as a working team.

"It's a very effective function for our research community," McMeekin said, adding Monash has six campuses in Australia and three overseas.

"Our international researchers will be able to share resources and it also has great potential for our students working on assignments and projects."

With the deal signed, for an undisclosed sum, Monash is now in the planning stage and the software will be deployed throughout 2007 for completion across all campuses and students in 2008.

Monash will also use the SameTime module for presence, IM and desktop videoconferencing.

In what also may a first for an implementation of this scale, the Notes Domino back end will be installed on Red Hat Linux.

McMeekin said the fact that Notes is cross platform did influence the decision to go with Notes, whose client software is supported by Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

"We will manage the infrastructure in-house post deployment as there is a lot of experience running Linux and a lot of our applications run on it," he said.

With many large universities managing a diverse, siloed IT infrastructure, McMeekin believes Monash is well placed to demonstrate how a modern, integrated communications environment should operate and is confident the roll-out will proceed without a hitch.

There is also potential for the new system to integrate with existing records and document management systems by 2008 and to use Lotus and WebSphere technology to bring the functionality to mobile devices.

IBM Australia and New Zealand Lotus regional executive Jonathan Stern said Lotus has the right technology to help Monash University improve the tertiary education experience.

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