Established in 1988, and part of the global Hogg Robinson Group since 2006, Expertravel is a leading travel agent and tour operator in Ghana. As an IATA-accredited organisation, Expertravel offers ticketing and air travel services on behalf of most airlines flying to and from Ghana. The company also offers a range of packaged tours, both in Ghana and elsewhere, and has a significant business travel operation.
Expertravel was experiencing reliability and performance issues with its MDaemon e-mail software, running on Microsoft Windows. The solution frequently suffered unplanned downtime, requiring Expertravel to call in external support resources to resolve the issue. Even when the software was running normally, the company was dissatisfied with the functionality of the e-mail client.
Another issue for Expertravel was controlling Internet access and application installation by employees. The company lacked control over which Web sites employees could access, and senior management was concerned that productive hours were being lost. There was also a potential productivity drain—and, more significant, a security risk—in the fact that users were free to install their own software on the company's computers.
Expertravel engaged LaKe Consult Ltd., a partner based in Accra, to advise on a new platform for e-mail, collaboration and desktop management. On LaKe Consult's recommendation, Expertravel implemented Open Workgroup Suite, a complete collaboration package that includes Open Enterprise Server, ZENworks® Configuration Management, GroupWise®, and SUSE® Linux Enterprise Desktop.
Expertravel also implemented GroupWise Mobile Server and BlackBerry Enterprise Server to enable the delivery of e-mail direct to mobile phones and BlackBerry handhelds.
"GroupWise has given us a totally stable and robust e-mail solution, with the ability to send and receive messages wherever we are in the world," said Sydney Baeta, Managing Director, Expertravel. "With the previous e-mail solution, there was always the possibility that we would come in to the office and find it out of action. By contrast, GroupWise has proven to be absolutely reliable—we simply have no concerns any longer about the availability of communications."
LaKe Consult set up a Web traffic filtering solution using Squid running on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. The solution uses a white list of permitted sites to ensure that Expertravel staff can access sites that are necessary for their job functions, while blocking access to others.
Expertravel is running ZENworks Configuration Management on Open Enterprise Server to lock down a standardised desktop environment for its employees, preventing the installation of unauthorised software and keeping all applications correctly patched against emerging security threats.
"The Novell (now a part Micro Focus) solution has helped us to increase staff productivity, both by providing a more stable and secure desktop environment and by enabling us to apply policy-based controls on Internet access," said Baeta. "We aim to extend our use of Novell technologies by migrating all our desktop machines to SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop."
The combination of Open Enterprise Server, GroupWise and ZENworks Configuration Management gives Expertravel a stable, robust and secure platform for communication and collaboration—at a fraction of the cost of an equivalent solution from Microsoft. Employees can now reliably check e-mail wherever they are, either through GroupWise WebAccess or on their mobile devices.
"GroupWise has been a real revelation for us: all employees are highly satisfied with the functionality and stability," said Baeta. "The solution works faultlessly without requiring any technical intervention on our part."
LaKe Consult acts as the external support partner for Expertravel, taking advantage of the remote management capabilities offered by the solutions to provide a competitively priced service. "When we need technical support, LaKe Consult can provide it remotely in 80 percent of cases, and this means that the cost is much lower than for our previous infrastructure," said Baeta.
The ability to lock down desktops with ZENworks Configuration Management minimises the loss of productivity and helps ensure greater network security at Expertravel. It also reduces the incidence of technical problems, both cutting support costs and maximising focus on core business issues.
"ZENworks Configuration Management takes care of software updates and patching, so that our employees are always protected and able to focus on their work rather than IT issues," said Baeta. "It would not be economical for us to have a permanent IT manager on the payroll—and the robustness and ease of management offered by the Novell solutions mean that we don't require such an employee."