When a non-profit private university looked into so-called "free,"
cloud-based email solutions as alternatives to Novell GroupWise,
the spreadsheet analysis was surprising. After doing the math,
GroupWise came out on top in several categories.
As Director of Information Technology for Millikin University, Pat
Pettit is always looking for cost-efficient ways to improve IT
services. When she installed Novell GroupWise® in 1996, it was
because of the innovative features it included (for no additional
cost), plus its low administrative burden and high
scalability-ideal for a university environment.
That's why, 16 years ago, Millikin became one of the first
universities to offer email as a standard application to
everyone-faculty, staff and even students. Today, Millikin
University offers an "email address for life" at no cost to current
students and alumni.
Recently, Pettit looked into the free, cloud-based email solutions
being offered to higher education by Google and Microsoft. She was
already considering an upgrade to the university's GroupWise 8
"Our employees are very much in love with GroupWise," she says. "I
knew that taking that away from them would cause lots of grumbling.
The past few years we've been talking about migrating to a cloud
solution, but the more investigation we did, the more we realized a
true comparison was needed."
The IT director found that other universities switching to free
email solutions were only doing it for student accounts; faculty
and staff were on a different system. Also, student accounts didn't
retain email messages, calendar entries or address books when
migrated to the free system.
"We wanted to have our students and employees on the same system,
with the same availability, and we didn't want anyone to lose their
email data," Pettit recalls. So, her investigation continued.
User satisfaction needs aside, Pettit knew the upgrade-or-migrate
decision required a careful look at the numbers. She created a
spreadsheet to compare the collaboration solutions offered by
Novell, Microsoft and Google-and the associated costs for upgrading
"We discovered that, over five years, it would've cost us US$35,000
to switch to a 'free' solution," she says. "That doesn't include
the costs for the business processes we'd have to rewrite, end-user
training costs, and consulting fees for the migration."
The spreadsheet analysis clearly showed that upgrading to Novell
GroupWise 2012 was the best choice. In her comparison, GroupWise
had these advantages:
No extra servers required for directory federation
No special web client required
High availability service included
No need for training or consulting
Business processes and email data protected
Faster implementation (half the time to upgrade vs. migrate)
One solution for faculty, students and alumni
Instead of heading down a costly migration path, Millikin
University upgraded to GroupWise 2012 over the summer break,
completing the process in four weeks. "We could've done it faster,
but we made a strategic decision to do it more slowly to make sure
we had no problems," Pettit explains. "The beauty of GroupWise is
that we could still be communicating during the upgrade process,
because GroupWise 2012 worked with the GroupWise 8 client."
Besides cost savings, another benefit of the upgrade is
productivity. "The faculty and staff are happy to keep their
GroupWise, and the IT department is happy we didn't have to write
workarounds," she says. "GroupWise is ingrained in our processes
and the way we do business. We didn't want to fracture that
The university also uses Novell Open Enterprise Server for its
GroupWise servers, Novell Cluster Services for high availability,
and NetIQ® Identity Manager to provision new users with GroupWise
and Novell Data Synchronizer.
"We did a survey of incoming freshman and found that more than half
want to do their email and calendars on smartphones or tablets, so
Data Synchronizer is a must," she says.
What started as an IT director's look at free email options ended
in an upgrade that now saves her department time and money, and
keeps her end users productive. Pettit's advice?
"It pays to do the math. 'Free' isn't necessarily free when you
take into account all of the costs involved."