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Reuters ditches Notes

Eric Doyle
Global information services company Reuters is switching its 6,000 Lotus Notes users to Microsoft Outlook and Exchange. It said the move is because Microsoft technology has become more widespread and is better supported by mobile devices.

Reuter's chief technology officer Mike Sayers, claimed the project will prove to be cost-neutral because of the redeployment of Sun servers, which currently support elements of the Notes environment, backed by the pooling of existing Compaq servers in distributed networks.

The motivation for the move, said Sayers, is to allow the business to offer wider messaging and collaboration features across a range of devices in the future.

"We are anticipating growth in the use of mobile devices such as Wap phones, [mobile e-mail devices], Palms and PocketPCs," he said.

"Although our official policy has been to support Palms, users are buying their own preferred devices and expect to be able to synchronise with the corporate messaging system. Almost exclusively, Microsoft Outlook is the default system supported by PDA makers' software. Notes is not in the same ballpark."

Although Lotus provides a module for linking mobile devices, Sayers feels that this adds to the burden of managing Notes.

Another advantage of the move stems from Microsoft's almost universal presence. "People joining the company are likely to know Outlook but are less likely to know how to use Notes. Staff are also more likely to use Outlook at home so why insist on them using Notes at work?" said Sayers.

"From my perspective, configuring and maintaining Notes is not an intuitive process and this will worsen as we get more involved in Microsoft technologies such as Windows XP and .net."

With Microsoft Exchange Sayers hopes to reduce the number of servers involved by taking advantage of the extra bandwidth provided by proposed changes to Reuters' internal networks.

The company has 150 e-mail servers currently supporting Notes but through aggregation the organisation may need fewer servers to run Outlook and Exchange. Despite this, Sayers is not expecting software licensing costs to fall. He is currently weighing up the pros and cons of Microsoft's new licensing conditions.

"It looks as though we will merge the changes into our enterprise agreement. It is easy to get confused but the cost is going to be high."

The migration is due to start before the end of this year and completion is expected by the end of 2002.

Sayers admitted that Reuters will still have to support in-house programs based on Lotus Notes after the migration.

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