No-cost e-mail system knocks out incumbent

* The Southern Ontario Town of Cobourg adopted Novell’s Small Business Suite 6.5 for free — after purchasing GroupWise licences for 60 users. The overall cost came to about $12,000, says John Grozelle, Cobourg’s IT services supervisor. No extra hardware was required.

* In late 2003, Cobourg

almost went ahead with an upgrade to its Microsoft-based system. The town had been using MS Mail for about six years, covering about 65 computers in four major clusters, as well as home and mobile users. Grozelle says he “”stumbled”” across the Novell package while doing his research, which included word-of-mouth reports from other public-sector organizations. He estimates the town saved $10,000 as a result. “”It’s a totally different model from what I’ve seen being used,”” he says.

* The package includes virus scanning of all e-mail messages and shared calendar access across the entire network, as well as Web-based access to e-mail. Flexible management features make it easier to manage everyone’s e-mail, be they at home or in town hall, Grozelle says. “”It’s very, very handy.””

* The town went live this past January, after a three-day installation process. At about the same time, a major virus outbreak took out another local organization’s network of about the same size. While the municipality had problems, they proved relatively easy to manage, Grozelle says. “”We did have some issues, but the server did not go down.””

* Grozelle says the Novell suite works well with the other parts of Cobourg’s IT infrastructure, including Microsoft applications run in-house, as well as its Oracle-based server. “”From the CAO down, we’re quite happy,”” Grozelle says. Future purchases will reflect an ongoing effort to balance cost savings with interoperability and functionality, he says.

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