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The University of Regensburg

By rolling out Novell GroupWise to 40,000 users on its own campus and in related organisations, the University of Regensburg has given its students a free e-mail service that offers more functionality and security than Web-based alternatives.

About The University of Regensburg

Founded in 1962, the University of Regensburg in the UNESCO world heritage city in eastern Bavaria has more than 16,000 undergraduate and graduate students, with approximately 5,000 staff. The university is composed of 12 faculties, covering disciplines such as theology, law, business, medicine, humanities, mathematics and natural sciences. The teaching faculty once included the present Pope, Joseph Ratzinger.

Challenge

While the university administration was a long-term user of Novell GroupWise® for e-mail, shared calendaring and collaboration, students had previously been served by the open source Pegasus e-mail solution. As free Web-based e-mail became increasingly popular, students became reluctant to check their university e-mail accounts. This created communication problems, because German data protection laws do not allow universities to use private email addresses for communication with students.

Unable and unwilling to completely ban the use of private e-mail address on campus, the university set out to make student e-mail more functional and user-friendly, aiming to provide a service that would be more attractive to students than free Web-based e-mail. This would ensure that students would receive official communications from the university in the same e-mail account they used in their personal lives.

Novell Solution

The University of Regensburg chose Novell GroupWise as its new platform for student e-mail, and participated in the Novell GroupWise Lighthouse programme to receive expert consulting for what was a massive migration project. The new Novell GroupWise solution will cover all 16,000 university students, plus 5,700 students of the University of Applied Science and the users at the university hospital: in total, some 40,000 users.

"We needed to offer users added value to make the new university e-mail system more attractive than free Web services like Google Mail," said Edmund Weber, Technical Specialist at the University of Regensburg. "Novell GroupWise offered an attractive interface and powerful functionality, with encrypted mailboxes for users. This was an important factor, and one reason we did not select Microsoft Exchange Server: our data protection policies state that administrators must have no access to student e-mail. We also selected Novell ahead of Microsoft for its openness and mixed source approach."

In addition to providing encryption for all mailboxes, Novell GroupWise makes it easy to manage e-mail archiving for compliance purposes; this applies to certain official administrative functions such as procurement.

The new Novell GroupWise environment runs on Novell Open Enterprise Server on a six-node cluster of Dell PowerEdge 2950 servers. User migration is now in progress on a voluntary basis. The IT team is currently handling 200 to 300 migration requests per day, so that almost all users will be on Novell GroupWise within a few months. Any students that have not actively signed up for the new service by the end of the year will be migrated at that point.

"Our staff already have extensive knowledge of Novell GroupWise, so it has been easy to write guidelines and migration tutorials," said Weber. "We are holding weekly training sessions for new users, and the response is very good: users are enthusiastic about the advanced functionalities in Novell GroupWise."

Results

Novell GroupWise provides a powerful platform for e-mail, shared calendaring and collaboration that is easy to use and compares favourably with free Web-based e-mail services. It also offers easy administration, helping to keep costs low for the University of Regensburg: there are just eight administrators for the entire environment, who also have other duties. The migration for all 40,000 users is being handled as part of their normal workload.

"The look-and-feel and usability of Novell GroupWise are convincing users to switch, and there is clearly interest when students see their neighbours using the new solution—the enthusiasm is spreading," said Weber. "The cost of Novell GroupWise compares favourably to alternatives such as Microsoft Exchange, and the ease of administration will keep our long-term operational costs low. Despite the large increase in user numbers, we will be able to maintain the same number of employees."

The university integrated its e-learning platform with Novell GroupWise, so that relevant events such as lectures and classes automatically appear in students' calendars when they sign up for optional courses. This simplifies their planning and makes it less likely that they will miss important events.

"The quality of the new e-mail solution reaffirms our commitment to Novell technologies; the University of Regensburg is very satisfied with the performance and value for money offered by Novell." said Weber. "The clustering technologies in Novell Open Enterprise Server help us to keep e-mail highly available, and we also use Novell ZENworks® to provision software to PCs across the campus. In both cases, this reduces our administrative workload and improves service to end-users."

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