Centrelink looks to Microsoft for email, collaboration

Department of Human Services likely to become a Microsoft shop in near future

Centrelink has flagged interest in switching to Microsoft products for its email, and potentially, unified communications software.

Former Centrelink CIO and Department of Human Services deputy secretary of ICT infrastructure, John Wadeson, told audiences at the CeBIT 2010 conference that the agency was looking to fall into line with the IT infrastructure of the wider department.

"The Child Support Agency and the Human Services Department are already there," Wadeson said.

Wadeson recognised Microsoft Exchange's ubiquity in the department and the potential for future development, but said he was currently constrained by budget.

"It's a matter of when, not if, but there's no current deadline as to when," he said. "We might get the chance in a course of a Government project, you know that fantastic IT term 'While the bonnet's up'."

While Wadeson is traditionally coy on revealing exact plans for changes in the government department's IT infrastructure, it is believed that the "while the bonnet's up" mentality may also be directed at Lotus Sametime, the IBM collaboration and unified communications software which currently enables Centrelink staff to communicate with and direct questions to subject matter experts. It is believed that the department may be looking to Microsoft's Office Communications Server as an alternative.

A spokesperson would not confirm whether the department was looking to transition away from Sametime, but said an eventual transition to Microsoft software was planned in the long-term rather than in the near future.

The radical changes in IT infrastructure at Centrelink come as the Department of Human Services looks to consolidate its infrastructure as a whole, including reducing the number of overall data centres it runs as well as physically co-locating Medicare Australia and Centrelink branches. Wadeson told Computerworld Australia that the department had already unified its contact list across departments.

Centrelink has also recently flagged its plan to start an online community forum to foster customer engagement and help receive feedback about the department's services.

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Tags MicrosoftMicrosoft exchangecentrelinkDepartment of Human ServicesLotus Sametime

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