An Ontario municipality has switched from Microsoft to Novell’s small business software products to reduce costs and improve the way it handles e-mail.

The Town of Cobourg, Ont., recently adopted Novell’s Small Business Suite 6.5 Starter

Pack, integrated with GroupWise 6.5. The town has installed NetWare at its Emergency Control Center to host the GroupWise system and has purchased 60 GroupWise 6.5 licences. No new hardware was required for the project, Novell said.

Cobourg had been using MS Mail post office for the past four years until the town’s administration and networking demands outgrew the product’s capabilities, according to John Grozelle, supervisor of the information technology unit at the Town of Cobourg. Problems included lost e-mail messages, no outside Web access and viruses.

“”With MS, everything was tied to one work computer. If that goes down, it didn’t follow the user,”” he said.

Before purchasing Novell’s Small Business Suite, Grozelle said he compared the needs of Cobourg’s administration with the cost of the Exchange in a local government agency. He concluded that Novell not only brought forth a better network but at a lower cost, with almost a 45 per cent difference in price.

“”We switched to something that was a little more cost effective than the Exchange,”” he said. “”We saved about $10,000.””

Cobourg employs 120 employees in its administration, which Novell defines as a small business. However, Pamela Lauz, Small Business Server product manager for Microsoft Canada, said Microsoft views any company with more than 75 users as a large business, which may have contributed to the higher prices for Exchange.

“”Our customers are telling us that Windows Small Business Server 2003 is meeting their exact needs by providing robust, reliable and secure software at an affordable price,”” she said in a prepared statement to ITBusiness.ca.

Grozelle said Cobourg turned to a local training facility to help ease the transition of introducing the Novell Small Business Suite to users who had grown accustomed to the Microsoft platform.

“”(The reaction) was mixed, as with anything new coming down the pipe . . . we provided expert training before (the employees) started to use the product,”” he said.

“”They were actually modifying their own profiles, which was waiting at their desks when they came in to work.””

Earlier this year Cobourg’s police department, which runs Exchange, was hit by a virus and its e-mail server was shut down for two days. According to Novell, the town hall and other departments running the Novell software were unaffected by the attack.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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