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How Dave Does It: Let's Talk About GroupWise Consolidation

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Dave Muldoon

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Posted: 8 Jan 2003
 

Before I delve too deeply into the details of the "how to", I want to provide an overview of the next few articles and what you can expect to find in them. This article should provide a good basis for pitching this type of environment to your company or may provide you with some details that cause you to take your system in this direction. The consolidated approach is one most GroupWise Administrator's are looking at today, as email has taken on such an important, mission-critical role and the overall cost of bandwidth has come down to affordable means.

As I stated in a previous article, the main reason that I designed and implemented a consolidated solution for GroupWise was due to the fact that my system has multiple 56KB links connecting over 300 plus locations. Those 56KB links end up having various levels of quality and utilization. Each location, prior to implementing a consolidation strategy had a Post Office that supported a small subset of users. The design aspects, of a consolidation effort in my system, involve end-user access to the GroupWise system over 56KB links. I had to do a lot of testing and research on what the impact was to the GroupWise client application in this scenario. This is how I ended up coming across the items that I wrote about in the "GroupWise Client Application Best Practices". If you are going to consider consolidating your system you should probably take a look at that article.

Consolidation: What is it?

Many administrators get scared when the topic of consolidation comes up and tend to think negatively about it. I believe this is mainly due to a fear that a consolidated system means consolidated administration or job loss - this is not the case! I can't stress that enough, so I'll say it again; consolidation of your GroupWise System does not mean that there is a way to reduce the number of administrators. Consolidation allows the existing administrators to increase the productivity of the system, add enhancements, research new solutions, further educate the users, or work on other projects unrelated to GroupWise.

Consolidation: Who should consider it?

This is very often up to the administrator to understand and foresee the benefits of reducing the overall system. However, there are some more obvious environments. Most obvious would be systems that have many post offices that seem to be "legacy" from the GroupWise 4x days (when distributive systems were the only way) for example, a single building with a Post Office for each floor/department. Other cases would be multiple WAN locations, where a large population of users are located in a central location and smaller pockets of users are "remote" locations.

Why should you consider it?

  • ROI (return on investment) - Time, dollars and effort used to implement a consolidated solution positions a company for growth and stability over the long-term.
  • More consistent performance from anywhere; remote LAN locations, remote internet access (web or client) provide consistent access based on access points being located near the Post Offices and Domains.
  • Depending on the level of consolidation and your company policy, you can drastically reduce or completely remove the need to move users.
  • More efficient delivery of mail. If you are familiar with the message flow of GroupWise, this is easy to understand. Based on the GroupWise backend components message delivery requirements are much less as messages are written to fewer post offices, often items only written once as users tend to be on the same post office.
  • I also ran tests on the consolidated/centralized system and compared the circuit/bandwidth utilization in this type of situation versus a distributed system I found that utilization went DOWN in the centralized system! Now, understand that this occurred in my network, it may not happen in all networks but knowing how GroupWise works, it makes a lot of sense. All of the multiple delivery components of GroupWise are handled at the server-side, which is a central location.
  • Once the consolidation process is complete, they system is perfectly positioned for fault-tolerance, using hardware or application software such as NetWare Cluster Services.
  • If servers were functioning as multipurpose servers (file, print, GW , antivirus, backups, etc.), consolidating to GroupWise only servers removes the overhead on disk, RAM and processor from multipurpose servers which can extend the lifetime of that equipment. As you're probably aware GroupWise requires a good amount of both processor and disk.
  • Faster/less cumbersome upgrades to the GroupWise server applications. Instead of upgrading 300 plus, I'm down to about 25. That says a lot for ROI.
  • And finally, one of my sales pitch items, when a multipurpose server is down the GroupWise system is still up and functioning; mail is accessible. That's a great feeling as a GroupWise administrator; not being involved in an outage of service.

Here's a Brief Overview of the Entire Process:

(Upcoming articles will cover all of the following topics and detail)

  1. GroupWise Consolidation Project Guidelines
    • The complete project overview.
  2. End user impact during the move process
    • I'll cover move impact items.
  3. GroupWise Consolidation: Monitoring the user move process.
    • I'll review pre-validation steps
    • I'll outline a number of items for tracking the move process.
    • I'll review post-validation verification.
  4. GroupWise Consolidation: User moves/Post Office Moves
    • I'll review the number of users able to be moved at once (in my system) and explain how you can figure this out on your system.
    • I'll review "staging server" process for Post Office moves.
  5. GroupWise Server Parameters that effect GW performance
    • Compilation of the various TIDs and Novell sizing document that helped me tweak my servers.

Once I cover the fifth topic, you will have all of the information that I used, the processes that I followed and some of the "numbers" that I came across to successfully consolidate my system from 330+ Post Offices down to 23 Post Offices.

Watch for more articles by Dave Muldoon, every couple of weeks, under the resources link on GroupWise Cool Solutions - http://www.novell.com/coolsolutions/gwmag/features/trenches/tr_how_dave_does_it_gw.html.


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