Liconsa is an agency of the Mexican government, responsible for producing and distributing fortified, vitamin-enriched milk for children, pregnant women, disabled and elderly people throughout the country. Headquartered in Mexico City, the agency employs 4,500 people at 33 offices and ten production plants; it delivers over 3.4 million litres of milk to more than 6 million people every day.
To provide high-quality fortified milk for Mexico's low-income families at the lowest possible cost, Liconsa is constantly looking for ways to reduce its operational costs. For the IT department, this means focusing on both internal cost reduction and the provisioning of new services that help the agency's other departments to work more efficiently.
Liconsa has more than 2,500 IT users, most of whom use desktop PCs. These PCs were all running Microsoft Windows operating systems, which meant that software licensing costs were relatively high.
"We wanted to move to a more cost-effective desktop operating system, but we didn't want to restrict the choice of applications available to us," said Carlos Ramírez Iglesias, Assistant Director of IT Development at Liconsa. "We still needed high-quality software for e-mail, word processing and other common tasks. We also wanted to find a solution that would help people collaborate online and reduce the need for our users to travel across the country to attend meetings."
Liconsa had been using Novell GroupWise® as its e-mail solution for several years, and was also using Novell software for directory management and print management.
"We are very happy with Novell, and we have built a great relationship with them," said Iglesias. "We have always found the Novell consultants to be highly professional, and the quality of the training, support and other services they provide is excellent. So when we started looking at changing our desktop operating system, it was natural for us to consult them about finding a solution."
The IT team at Liconsa evaluated Novell Open Workgroup Suite, which includes Novell GroupWise, Novell Teaming, SUSE® Linux Enterprise Desktop and Openoffice.org Novell Edition.
"We initially chose to migrate 30 percent of our desktops to Novell Open Workgroup Suite," said Iglesias. "Migrating from Microsoft Windows to SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop enabled us to make considerable cost savings and improve security. We estimate that our old desktop solution was about five times as expensive as Novell Open Workgroup Suite."
The combination of Novell GroupWise and Openoffice.org Novell Edition provides Liconsa with a high-quality, easy-to-manage e-mail environment, robust word processing and spreadsheet applications with file compatibility, and other office productivity tools. The IT team can also choose from a wide range of open source software, much of which is available free of charge from the Linux community.
"Novell GroupWise has been our preferred e-mail platform for many years, and the new Openoffice.org software is secure, stable and rich in functionality," said Iglesias. "Even more important, Novell Teaming is enabling employees from across the country to communicate and collaborate online, instead of wasting time and money on travelling to meetings."
Prior to the implementation of Novell Teaming, Liconsa used to hold three or four national meetings each year. Employees from all of the organization's 33 offices would attend, and the cost of travel and accommodation was approximately US$20,000 per meeting. Moreover, each meeting lasted two or three working days, which had a significant impact on productivity.
"Novell Teaming enables us to organise virtual meetings online, two or three times a month, which saves up to US$80,000 per year in travel costs and is much more convenient for our employees," said Iglesias. "Since we can hold these meetings more frequently than we used to, they also tend to be much shorter and more targeted, which helps to improve overall productivity."
Novell Teaming contributes to this productivity gain by providing a secure online workspace where documents can be shared and edited easily—eliminating problems with version control and reducing paper, printing and storage costs.
"We were the first federal agency in Mexico to adopt Novell Teaming, and our success has created a lot of interest," said Iglesias. "The software is now being tested on a federal level, and many other agencies are considering whether they should adopt it."
Finally, the move from Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office to Novell Open Workgroup Suite has helped to cut IT department costs significantly.
"Novell Open Workgroup Suite enabled us to reduce licensing and support costs by 80 percent, which is hugely beneficial for the agency," said Iglesias. "We are planning to extend our use of the Novell software across our whole desktop estate."