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Success Story: Sarasota County

Novell Cool Solutions: Feature

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Posted: 6 Nov 2003

GroupWise 6.5 improves collaboration among Sarasota County's eight business centers while reducing administration time by 50 percent.


Sarasota County is one of the largest counties in Florida with nearly 2,500 employees serving 300,000 residents. The county has eight business centers and five Constitutional offices.


Sarasota County employees are spread out among multiple locations but need the ability to work with other teams as though they were side-by-side. Cross-departmental task forces, for example, require access to the same files and folders. The county needed a more effective way to help users share documents, without increasing administrative time and costs.

The county needed improved Web access capabilities to help users access the same collaboration tools from the Web as from their desktops. Junk mail was also becoming a big problem. Some users were getting as many as 100 junk mail messages a day.


Sarasota County decided to upgrade from GroupWise 5.5 to GroupWise 6.5 to take advantage of enhancements to shared folders, improved Web access and junk mail handling. The county was also impressed with the security of GroupWise against virus attacks.

?Without GroupWise, we would probably have to double the size of our staff just to keep up with the maintenance on servers. Other solutions we evaluated would require one administrator for 120 users, but we can easily manage all our 2,500 users with our current staff of three.?
?George Ellis,
IT Manager,
Sarasota County

"Virus protection is a big deal for us," said George Ellis, IT manager for Sarasota County. "As a government entity, it's critical that we stay operational and e-mail is one of our most important applications. If e-mail ever goes down, we hear about it from everyone."

The county has improved collaboration among its departments with the enhanced shared folder capabilities in GroupWise 6.5. Individual users can now set up access rights to shared files and folders, rather than relying on IT staff. By eliminating the need to assign rights and mapping drives, the IT staff saves hours of administrative work each week.

Users are especially happy with the new interface in GroupWise 6.5, particularly with improved Web Access capabilities. More than half of the county's employees use Web Access on a daily basis whether from home, while traveling, or from any of the county's 100 locations including county buildings, fire stations or park offices. Users now have the same functionality from the Internet as from their desktops, including the ability to schedule meetings by doing busy searches on each other's calendars.

Many county employees also rely on Blackberrys* to stay in touch while out of their offices. Synchronization with GroupWise address books and task lists allows these users to receive and send e-mail from any location and keep up to date.

Improved junk mail handling in GroupWise 6.5 gives users the option to create their own block lists, which has decreased the number of spamrelated helpdesk calls. In addition, the IT team has the ability to control spam at the post office level, limiting the amount of unwanted messages that reach individual mailboxes.

"We didn't know how great the new junk mail handling in GroupWise 6.5 would be," said Ellis. "I went from receiving 100 to ten junk mail messages a day."

The ability to customize e-mail messages has also improved user productivity for many of the county's users who are new to e-mail. Users can personalize the subject lines of received e-mail messages to make them easier to find and understand. By dragging and dropping, users can turn mailbox items into a prioritized checklist. Users can also color code e-mail to organize it according to personally defined categories.

Recently, the county IT staff began consolidating IT functions across the county into a single department. The county anticipates consolidating its 17 GroupWise post offices to five for a significant savings in hardware and maintenance costs.

"Without GroupWise, we would probably have to double the size of our staff just to keep up with the maintenance of servers," said Ellis. "Other solutions we evaluated in the past would require one administrator for 120 users, but we can easily manage all our 2,500 users with our current staff of three."


GroupWise 6.5 has increased collaboration among Sarasota County departments by enabling individual users to set up shared folders, eliminating the need for IT help and freeing up IT resources to concentrate on more strategic projects. Users will start seeing a dramatic decrease in the amount of junk mail, as well as productivity gains from better tools to organize and manage e-mail.

With the overall stability and new features in GroupWise 6.5, the county estimates a 50 percent reduction in overall administration. Consolidating its GroupWise servers by 70 percent will help the county significantly reduce hardware and maintenance costs.

"Novell Technical ServicesSM was available around the clock during our upgrade," said Adam Beggy, GroupWise administrator for Sarasota County. "We don't have enough good things to say about them. No matter what time we called, they had the right answers to keep us on track."

Download a .pdf version of this success story here.

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