Abandoning Novell GroupWise and fragments of other e-mail systems, a post-secondary institution in Atlantic Canada has deployed Microsoft Windows Server 2003 operating system, Active Directory service and Exchange Server to ramp up communication and collaboration capabilities at its 13 campuses.

“”The

primary means of communication among staff is e-mail,”” said Wilson Verge, Nova Scotia Community College’s director of IT, adding the school was able to reduce the number of servers dedicated to e-mail traffic to six from 24. The improvements are also benefiting 8,500 full-time and over 10,000 part-time, customized training, apprenticeship and online-learning students. “”We increased our communication, saved money and increased quality of service.””

Consolidating on the Microsoft platform has enabled NSCC, one of the largest post-secondary institutions in the province, to save $100,000 in licensing fees, achieve server consolidation of over 50 per cent and enhance system access and uptime, said Verge. The migration effort addressed past problems relating to NSCC’s older IT infrastructure that lacked cross-campus communication capabilities, and the multiple operating systems that were costly to maintain.

The improved system is allowing the IT staff to focus less time on maintenance and more time on other critical tasks, Verge said. While Windows Server 2003 operating system and Exchange Server provide a reliable backbone for communication and system access, Verge explained, Active Directory helps IT staff to centralize password administration.

Steven Marsden, account executive at Xwave Solutions Inc. in Halifax, N.S., said the critical part of the project came during the implementation phase.

“”They had been running Novell GroupWise, and they said it wouldn’t enjoy the vendor support or the market support they felt they needed,”” he said, stressing that the outsourcing agreement between Xwave and NSCC covers Microsoft Exchange and PeopleSoft applications. “”During the implementation, we implemented the hardware and software…Now it sits in our data centre.””

NSCC now has the tools it needs to increase productivity and efficiency, said Derick Wong, senior product manager at Microsoft Canada Co. in Mississauga, Ont.

“”Benefits they can gain are integrated functionality and integrated management,”” said Wong. “”(They) can manage student directories from one location…The Windows Server system can enable IT to do a lot more with existing infrastructure and existing personnel.””

According to Mukul Krishna, senior analyst for digital media at Frost & Sullivan in San Antonio, Texas, the deployment is part of a larger trend seeing firms and academic institutions going digital. There is, he said, a real value proposition in digitizing the entire business process.

“”By moving to a very digital environment, it forces collaboration,”” said Krishna. “”Time spent finding and sharing information reduces…In terms of saving time and energy, saving on resources—that, after a period of time, becomes a tangible number.””

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