Durham upgrades e-mail before consolidating servers

The Region of Durham is following up a successful upgrade to GroupWise 6.5 with a project to centralize and consolidate its NetWare environment.

Preliminary work on the project, which will see Durham move from about

80 file and print servers to about 15, has already begun. The municipality is preparing for a move next summer into a new facility that will also include new IT infrastructure and a new data centre.

Ron Blakey, Durham’s director of information technology, said the project is part of an overall move to a more centralized IT organization, which right now is split among several groups. That was one of the major reasons for the GroupWise upgrade to version 6.5, he said. Individual post offices couldn’t upgrade until the corporate office’s domain had changed.

One of Blakey’s predecessors had been piloting GroupWise 5.5 but when he was beginning the move to 6.5, he said the local government also started examining an anti-spam product from one of Novell’s partners, software called Gee-Whiz. The combination of Gee-Whiz and some of the built-in functionality to GroupWise has reduced junk mail among Durham’s 1,500 employees by 60 to 80 per cent, he said. Before that, the municipality’s workforce was getting between 30,000 and 75,000 unsolicited commercial e-mail messages a day.

“”It was a real mix — some people that were out and about outside our organization had addresses getting quite a bit more than those who ordinarily stay in the office and don’t do a lot in terms of newsgroups and e-mail lists,”” he said. “”There wasn’t a big outcry.””

Ross Chevalier, Novell Canada‘s CIO and CTO, said spam volumes are determined by the dependency of an organization on short e-mail messages.

“”The more rapid the transition of messages, the more spam is a problem,”” he said. “”As long as organizations have used somebody else’s messaging product where the address book is not secure, that’s going to continue to be a problem.””

Durham has also decided to deploy Web access to e-mail accounts, Blakey said. This was something it had been toying with in version 5.5, but the real impetus came from user demands for remote access and virtual private networks.

“”Dig a little bit deeper, and the majority only want access to their e-mail,”” he said. “”It’s certainly a whole lot cheaper to roll out Web access with a secure certificate.””

Organizations are particularly keen to offer Web access to travelling employees, Chevalier added, since the connections in hotel rooms are poorly protected.

“”The motivation to move to Web-based clients for a messaging is a good one, because it significantly reduces the cost to the enterprise,”” he said. “”They don’t have to worry about deploying clients or managing clients or dealing with people’s kids or whatever happens when folks want to work on a machine that is not owned and maintained by the organization.””

Durham said it has shaved overall IT administrative IT costs by 50 per cent through the GroupWise upgrade.

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