TAFE exchanges Novell for Microsoft to reduce licensing costs

From 10 servers down to one

Lack of integration with key business systems and spiralling licensing costs forced Challenger TAFE to dump 10 Novell servers for Microsoft Exchange.

By moving to one Exchange server 2003, the West Australian based vocational training facility has centralized e-mail in a single store for improved manageability and backup.

Challenger TAFE information systems director, Graham Foster, said 10 industry training centres, which support more than 25,000 students, were using Novell NetWare and GroupWise technology.

He said it wasn't supported by business partners which made it difficult to integrate with applications based on Microsoft's Active Directory.

"We also needed to provide remote access as staff relied heavily on e-mail but we weren't confident of the capabilities or future viability of the GroupWise system," Foster said.

"In theory, GroupWise works with Microsoft's Outlook client and can synchronize calendars and contacts with mobile devices such as smartphones, but in practise we were having all sorts of problems; also it did not provide the functionality users were asking for like secure Instant Messaging."

As well as incurring additional licensing and operating costs, Foster said it was hard to find support staff and gain access to training.

Foster did not qualify licensing savings, but said IT staff had to travel interstate for training. Adding to the woes, staff began using different e-mail clients and office software, which was problematic for support staff.

"Backing up data across 10 sites over a wide area network was another time-consuming task," Foster said.

Challenger TAFE recognized an overhaul of server infrastructure was required and began investigating a number of solutions.

The TAFE undertook a proof-of-concept to develop a migration strategy. After the successful pilot, ISA Technologies began implementation.

Windows Server 2003 provides the foundation of the solution which is overlaid with Operations Manager 2005, a package that helps staff determine the root cause of a problem, resolve it and restore services quickly.

To improve communication and collaboration, the Live Communications Server 2005 was also implemented along with Microsoft's Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2004.

As well as overhauling the server environment, Foster said the TAFE has migrated all desktop PCs to Windows allowing IT to introduce usage policies across the organization and easily apply software updates.

He said the main benefits are lower licensing and hardware costs.

"While Challenger is saving money, the organization's new licensing agreement allows it to take advantage of a range of Microsoft technologies like SharePoint services and the new Exchange capabilities for messaging; also Activesynch technology makes it easy to synchronize handheld PCs and smartphones," Foster said.

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