The Queensland Government is considering a whole-of-government cloud email system after scrapping its beleaguered identity, directory and email services (IDES) program.
Less than a month after ordering a statewide audit of "wasteful" and "high-risk" ICT initiatives and systems, the state decided to the pull the plug on IDES, which — among other things — was slated to consolidate around 80,000 email accounts onto an Exchange 2007 platform.
State ICT minister Ros Bates said that as of this month, IDES counted only 3100 users.
She was highly critical of the project, largely led under the previous state government, saying it "should never have been approved in the first instance".
"The central problem with IDES was that it never represented good value for money and Departments could source alternative products," Bates said.
Bates said a further $25 million over three years would have been required "to make it viable". Instead, she said, the project would be cut off from the end of this month.
She saw a future whole-of-government cloud-based email system as beneficial "for the Government's short-term cash flow".
"A cloud-based solution doesn't require a large capital investment and provides an effective way to manage a commodity-based information technology service," she said.
However, she did not mention available alternatives or when the Government would approach market for such a system.
The 3100 IDES users "would be supported until a replacement" for the service is established, she said.
The state's Liberal National Party government had long criticised IDES when it was in opposition. In 2010, the then shadow ICT minister (and now Tourism minister) Jann Stuckey railed against delays to the IDES rollout (pdf).
She claimed at the time that complexity was one reason for the ongoing rollout delays.
"Just like the bungled Queensland Health payroll system, the ID management system that the IDES whole-of-government email project relies upon also requires heavy modification to allow the basic functionality of verifying a user's identify," she said.
It is unclear where the scrapping of IDES leaves agencies that were independently working towards IDES compliance.
Queensland Health CIO Ray Brown told iTnews late last year that the agency planned to migrate at least 50,000 users from GroupWise onto an Exchange 2007 platform, partly in readiness for IDES.
The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads is planning a similar Lotus-to-Exchange migration, but CIO Chris Fechner told iTnews last month it would go straight to Exchange 2010 and hope that IDES made a similar Exchange versioning move.