Red Deer rounds up Windows 2000

The City of Red Deer has gotten the message: its users need a new e-mail system.

The Alberta municipality is working with Bell West and integrator Xwave to replace its existing mail and Windows operating systems with Microsoft

Exchange and Windows 2000 products. Windows 2000 has already been installed on the city’s desktops and a team is now working on the server side.

A proof-of-concept lab, meanwhile, has been set up to run an emulation of the old messaging environment in order to determine the next steps. This lab will be used to test configurations for a pilot phase. The city hopes to have all its 700 workers on Exchange by June.

“”Something like Microsoft mail is pretty business-critical. I mean, mail period is critical,”” said Dan Newton, manager of IT services for the City of Red Deer. “”We’ve got to have a transition strategy to move our users from the old environment to the new environment.””

Red Deer has been primarily using Microsoft Mail, a DOS-based solution, since 1995. Newton said the city realized a year ago it was time to make the move to a more modern infrastructure.

“”That old Microsoft mail system — I mean, Microsoft doesn’t support it, so we’re kind of on our own here,”” he said. “”A lot of it comes back to currency.””

Once the legacy products have been switched over, Xwave senior solutions architect Wayne Peters said the city will bring in Microsoft SMS for automated software distribution, software metering and asset management.

“”There is a big move within the City of Red Deer as a municipality to move predominantly to Microsoft technology,”” he said. “”The benefits would be a more stable, scaleable and redundant environment.””

Though the city may benefit from some of the advanced features in Exchange, Newton said the city isn’t prepared to explore projects based on Microsoft’s .Net Web services framework.

“”We operate in a fishbowl here. We want to try stuff that’s been reasonably proven,”” he said. “”Our motive to get to .Net — it’s just not there. We want somebody else to sort of experience some of that bleeding-edge stuff.””

Peters, however, said the work Red Deer is doing now will help prepare it for other projects that could improve service to its 70,000 citizens.

“”It’s to provide the technology and facility for people to really do self-serve,”” he said. “”They’re going along very much the lines of the federal government and the government online project. This is something that has flowed down to the municipal level.””

The city didn’t wait for the upgrade to handle spam issues, however. Newton said Red Deer bought McAfee Webshield last year which has been filtering out about 700 to 900 unsolicited messages or more a day.

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