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Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina (Unisul)

High quality communication Unisul reduces maintenance costs and increases efficiency by replacing its open source-based mail system with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003

Carefully evaluate the total cost of ownership and suspect promises of immediate cost savings when making a technical decision. This is the advice given by Gustavo Dias, CIO at Unisul (Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina).

The institution – which has five campi, 2,500 employees (including faculty) and 30,000 students attending undergraduate, graduate and extension programs - is about to finish migrating its open source-based mail system to the Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 solution. Why? Microsoft's messaging tool provides more reliability at a lower cost. “We were spending more in order to support an open source platform. That’s why seasoned IT professionals are quite skeptical about open source software”, says Dias.

In his opinion, when calculating the costs of a certain solution, one must not forget to take into account an important factor which can be very hard to measure: the downtime cost. “The tool we were using had a lot of problems at message delivery. Little by little, our people stopped using it and started sending and receiving e-mail in the private accounts”, reports Dias.

Service instability was also responsible for overloading the IT team with complaints. “The administrators spent most of their time dealing with system incidents and were unable to manage the tool effectively”, says Rodrigo Santana, IT coordinator at Unisul.

The university was also facing problems caused by several accounts with the same login and due to the lack of web mail application resources. In 2005, the institution started to look at alternatives to migrate the system. Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 was chosen to run on the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 platform, thanks to the Active Directory service and Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003 (SMS).

Microsoft partner Teletex was responsible for planning, designing and deploying of the whole solution at Unisul. “In our proposal, we highlighted the technical advantages of migrating from a simple e-mail solution to a collaborative tool, such as Exchange, which provides several functionalities, including calendar share and meeting organizer”, explains Rodrigo Mielke, IT consultant at Teletex.

The Project started in Novembro 2006 and was divided in phases. The first phase involved the planning and specifications for software and hardware versions. Next, Unisul design the directories and installed Exchange 2003, Windows Server 2003 Active Directory and Systems Management Server 2003 (SMS). In February 2007, the university migrated individual accounts from its employees, as well as collective accounts from the departments, adding up to 3,294 mail boxes.

The goal is to conclude the implementation in January 2008. “We are about to finish the setup of 2.500 Active Directory desktops. Also, we are almost done registering e-mails accounts for the whole student body”, says Santana.

Stability and security

With the new structure, Unisul has seen a decrease in the number of help desk calls, ensuring the standardization of the mail system, since every one is now using Outlook. “We used to have several different applications to access our e-mails”, states Luiz Echeli Antunes, User Support coordinator.

According to an estimate, the university believes that the platform will host over 30,000 e-mail accounts. “E-mail use tends to increase and become the number one tool for a relationship with our student body and alumni”, believes Santana.

“Because of the infrastructure provided by Microsoft Exchange 2003, e-mail account management has become a lot easier”, says system manager Miguel Garcia Junior.

According to Dias, the benefits driven by quality, scalability and support assurance were the highlight of this initiative. “Only those who work with mission critical operations know how important it is to be able to rely on experts”, states the CIO. He explains that the former environment supported a very limited number of accounts, and this issue was overcome with Exchange 2003, which has a much larger capacity.

Within nine months, the project had achieved a rapid ROI (return on investment), and now Unisul expects to profit even more thanks to its environment modernization. The institution hopes that SMS 2003 will help increase the control over desktops, avoiding the install of non-authorized programs which can jeopardize the computer performance. “In the past, we did not have any desktop management tool connected to the network, which made it difficult to control the software installed and to perform the hardware inventory”, says Antunes.

Software updates and security policy definitions have also become much simpler tasks with the management tool. “We will be able to perform remote maintenance and this will most certainly simplify the work routine our IT professionals”, believes Antunes.

Unisul plans to integrate the Active Directory with several legacy systems. “Up to late January, we expect to have authenticated our intranet users by using the Active Directory”, states the coordinator. The goal is to work with single sign on, which will allow access across the university platforms with no need to authenticate the user in each one of the systems.

“Active Directory enables the prompt enforcement of security policies, which leads to a streamlined support service”, says Garcia.

Key Results

  • E-mail security and high availability
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Support assurance
  • Enhanced desktop management
  • Rapid ROI

Microsoft Exchange Server 2003

Microsoft Windows Server 2003

Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003


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