Berlin Organization Improves Collaboration with GroupWise on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server


By introducing Novell GroupWise, bildungsmarkt has given its 300 users a reliable collaboration platform. Deploying Novell Identity Manager enabled seamless integration with its existing Microsoft Windows landscape and reduced the administrative workload for the maintenance of user e-mail accounts.

The bildungsmarkt federation is a group of six enterprises, which runs 24 sites in the City of Berlin and employs 400 people. These enterprises provide services for around 2,500 people each year, including professional preparatory arrangements for school leavers, apprenticeships and qualifications in handcraft, service and industrial jobs. bildungsmarkt also offers skills-profiling, coaching and industrial mediation services.

To work effectively, employees at bildungsmarkt's distributed sites rely on stable and reliable communication. The challenge for the central IT department was providing a reliable collaboration platform in a decentralised infrastructure.

The bildungsmarkt federation of enterprises uses Microsoft Windows on its workstations, while the connection to its ERP system and the provision of printing and file services is handled by Microsoft Windows Server 2003.

In the past, Microsoft Outlook was used as the principal mail client for local installations. Since there was no offsite backup solution for e-mails, the organization was constantly at risk of data loss. The engineers often had to drive to the remote offices to solve problems or create new local user profiles.

To offer its employees improved service, greater opportunities for collaboration and protection against data loss, bildungsmarkt wanted to implement a robust communications platform offering centralised administration.

bildungsmarkt determined that e-mail data should be stored centrally in as few locations as possible, to ensure efficient data protection. The organisation wanted to avoid reducing all mail to a single central mail server because of the limited usable bandwidth of its network.

At the same time, the organisational structure of the company demanded a redundant structure: the failure of a single server should interfere as little as possible with the operation of other companies or other sites.

bildungsmarkt planned to introduce a central electronic telephone directory of all staff, and wanted to enable the sharing of mail folders, contacts and calendars to ease communication and cooperation across different office locations for all users. In particular, users with changing working locations needed to be able to access the mail system from anywhere via VPN access.

Since mid-2003, bildungsmarkt had operated a SUSE Linux Openexchange server at one of its sites to evaluate the possibilities of a Linux-based solution. Despite consistently positive experiences with the product and the operating system platform, competent support was lacking.

In cooperation with TargoSoft, a leading German system integrator and Novell Platinum PartnerSM, bildungsmarkt opted for Novell GroupWise as a new platform for e-mail services and shared calendaring.

The organization implemented Novell GroupWise WebAccess for the first 250 users. It gave the full Novell GroupWise client software to a further 50 users who required deeper integration with the Office suite or caching functionality for working with a notebook computer.

bildungsmarkt currently has three Novell GroupWise servers running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. The inclusion of additional servers in other locations is planned for 2008.

The data replication implemented by TargoSoft between the distributed email servers created a highly scalable and reliable distributed architecture with minimal risk of downtime.

bildungsmarkt uses Microsoft Active Directory for managing user accounts in Microsoft Windows Server 2003. To minimise the administrative burden for the maintenance of mail accounts, the company opted to implement Novell Identity Manager. Novell Identity Manager enables the synchronization of user information and passwords between Novell eDirectory (for the management of Novell GroupWise users) and the existing Active Directory environment. In this way, a Microsoft Active Directory-based user account is automatically generated in GroupWise.

TargoSoft supported bildungsmarkt throughout the entire project, from consulting and planning through implementation of Novell software to the training of users. "We are highly satisfied with the quality of service from TargoSoft," said Jens Treptow, CIO of bildungsmarkt. "The company has worked very effectively with our in-house team, making the transition very rapidly and with zero downtime."

In the past, bildungsmarkt's IT department was unable to meet essential collaborative requirements for its e-mail system. The large number of local e-mail clients was complex to administer and represented a data-security risk.

Thanks to the replication between Novell GroupWise servers, bildungsmarkt now has a robust collaboration infrastructure offering high availability to all users.

Through the use of Novell Identity Manager, and the data synchronization between Novell eDirectory and Microsoft Active Directory, bildungsmarkt integrated the Novell servers seamlessly into the existing system landscape.

"With the introduction of Novell GroupWise, we can provide significantly better support to our employees in their daily work," said Treptow. "Our users are highly satisfied and our technicians have less to do. The Novell software requires little administration, so we can now concentrate on strategically important tasks."

Success Story originally published here.


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