27 Feb Oracle out, Microsoft in for state e-mail project
Wisconsin is scrapping an Oracle-based e-mail installation and trying to recover $2.1 million in licenses and consulting fees, based on a pilot program that lasted for at least six months and seemed to be going well until insurmountable technical difficulties cropped up.
State CIO Matt Miszewski and Department of Administration Secretary Steve Bablitch said in a letter to state agency heads on Friday that the consolidated e-mail system, which would have served 44,000 state employees with 19 servers instead of the current 220 servers and required 9 fewer technical staff, does not meet the state’s needs even after significant efforts to fix it. He told reporters on Friday that he didn’t know how much DOA staff time had been spent on the project.
They now plan to proceed with Microsoft products, which much of the state government already uses. The consolidation efforts are targeting state agencies excluding the Legislature, the courts and the university system. Though the Oracle product was originally chosen for the consolidation project because the $2.6 million bid from a reseller came in well below Microsoft’s $12 million bid, Miszewski and Bablitch’s letter said they could still save the state $1 million by continuing the consolidation project with Microsoft software.
The decision to switch to Oracle was announced in 2004 after a confidential procurement process that involved several state agencies called together by Miszewski. The letter sent on Friday says the pilot project had been underway since mid-November 2005, though DOA Technology Leadership Council meeting minutes from last August say that Miszewski was a pilot user at the time and was pleased with the system. At the same meeting, Werner Gade, who was in charge of the day-to-day operations of the transition project, said there were no problems “other than those typically reported with email.”
Gade left his job at the Department of Administration for the private sector on Friday, the same day the derailment of the e-mail project was announced. DOA spokesman Scott Larrivee said the move was entirely Gade’s decision, and did not know where he will be working.
Neither Miszewski nor Gade could be reached on Monday for comment.
Most of the state’s existing e-mail servers run Microsoft products, though they are on different versions. Some are running Exchange 5.5, and others have upgraded to the 2000 or 2003 version.