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Peruvian Government Agency Improves Employee Collaboration with Open Source Solutions from Red Hat, Alfresco and Zimbra
September 30, 2009
Customer: Ministerio de Vivienda Construccion y Saneamiento
Needed to replace the existing client/server e-mail and collaboration platform to achieve improved scalability, security, productivity, and to reduce costs
From a client/server system running on Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise to Zimbra Collaboration Suite, a Web-based email technology, running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux and utilizing Alfresco Zimlet
Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Zimbra Collaboration Suite, Alfresco Zimlet, Red Hat Consulting
Dell Quad Core Server, 3.0 Ghz, 8GB ram, 1.5 Tb. Fully redundant
Improved communication and collaboration among users and provided a single integrated calendar and email solution; increased access to e-mail, agendas, and documents independently from physical equipment; reduced IT administration and support costs by standardizing on Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Ministerio de Vivienda, Peruand#x2019;s Ministry of Housing, Construction, and Sanitation, is a government agency whose goal is to promote and improve the development of housing, water, and sanitation services throughout Peru by facilitating access to adequate housing and basic services, facilitating the management, growth, preservation, maintenance, and protection of population centers.
Building community in Peru is a key objective for the Ministry of Housing, Construction, and Sanitation. And technology—in the form of email, calendaring, messaging, and collaboration solutions—has become an essential tool in achieving that objective. The Ministry realized it was outgrowing its communications infrastructure, and the IT team began planning for the task of replacing its aging client/server email and calendar systems.
The Ministry’s aging and limited email communications platform was based on SUSE Enterprise Linux with Postfix and Horde for Web customers. Users relied on different versions of Microsoft Outlook to check their email, resulting in challenges due to the platform age and configuration. The platform also caused the need to add an exclusive server allocated to this service. The Ministry’s main problem consisted of the lack of scalability and security, and limited flexibility in management and constrained the user interface.
In early 2009, the Ministry made the decision to evaluate solutions to replace its expensive proprietary software with lower cost, open source alternatives for a Web-based email solution with integrated email, calendar, and messaging.
The Ministry worked with Software Libre Andino, a Red Hat and Zimbra partner in Peru, in the evaluation process to replace its outdated systems.
“We needed a quick-to-deploy and easy-to-manage solution. We assessed several proposals from various vendors, among them, SUSE Linux and Microsoft Windows-based solutions, but we chose Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Zimbra Collaboration Suite, and Alfresco, for the cost savings, simplified administration, reliability, and quick implementation,” said Jaime Honores Coronado, managing director of the General Department of Statistics and Information Systems, Ministerio de Vivienda.
The entire project consisted of Red Hat Enterprise Linux with Zimbra Collaboration Suite, including the migration of each account, installation, configuration, start-up, technical, and end-user training. Email accounts were configured with a 900 MB per user quota.
With Zimbra Collaboration Suite, Red Hat Enterprise Linux serves as the primary development and deployment platform for the open source email platform. Zimbra Collaboration Suite integrates email, contacts, shared calendar, voice over IP (VoIP), and online document authoring into a single application with a rich browser-based interface, and is compatible with all standard email clients, and integrates easily with third-party applications.
The Ministry was able to deploy the Alfresco Zimlet, a tool created by Zimbra community members to allow a simple way for employees to store email attachments on the Alfresco server, and in turn select documents from the Alfresco server and attach them to a Zimbra email. This tool created by the open source community makes it easy for government agencies or companies to invest in multiple open source products to meet their needs.
Although the Ministry’s technical staff had minimal experience with a web-based email technology, Red Hat Consulting facilitated a faster implementation and provided the technical staff with the knowledge and tools to effectively manage the new platform.
“The high level of know-how and expertise of Red Hat’s consultants, coupled with Red Hat’s local presence, were decisive in making the decision to secure consulting rather than performing these tasks internally. Red Hat, through partner Software Libre Andino, contributed to service deployment, technical, and end-user training, and the migration of old e-mail accounts, allowing our team to quickly become experts,” said Coronado.
The Zimbra Collaboration Suite e-mail platform based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux immediately improved the productivity and coordination of the Ministry’s employees by enhancing collaboration and sharing of work agendas.
“We have achieved a larger physical distribution of our users who are now capable of accessing their e-mail accounts wherever they are. Our investment project coordinators can perform Web queries of their local e-mail, manage their work agendas, and refer to the document management system, all in one single platform,” said Coronado.
During the evaluation, the Ministry weighed Microsoft Exchange against Zimbra Collaboration Suite, and determined that the latter would account for 30 percent savings compared with the former. Zimbra’s own studies show similar TCO savings.
Saving the government money is definitely one reason for the switch to Zimbra, but another important factor in its decision to deploy open source solutions is that open source platforms allow users to easily integrate and build new solutions.
The Ministry’s future plans contemplate expanding the use of the solution by integrating it with other applications and platforms. Engineer Honores Coronado said, “We hope to continue our commitment to open source solutions and trust in Red Hat as the ideal partner for our projects.”
“The Zimbra and Red Hat solution provides a cost-effective platform that allows for greater efficiency and a unified email and collaboration platform,” said Coronado. “And we also benefited from significant cost savings with Red Hat Enterprise Linux.”