Durham, Ont. delighted with anytime, anywhere e-mail access

A new messaging system at the Region of Durham, Ont. allows employees to check e-mail from home or on the road, while eliminating excess dial-up costs.

With many of its employees – including an increasing number of PDA users – pleading for remote access to e-mail, Durham sought to provide e-mail access and support from any device.

“The Region had limited dial up lines and had to restrict the number of staff that could use the service so all lines wouldn’t be tied up if someone needed to connect for support,” said Ron Blakey, manager, administration and strategic planning, CIS at Durham. “Making email available via secure Internet connection has allowed us to avoid expansion costs of dial up, while expanding the service.”

Durham has always been on Novell’s GroupWise so standardizing was not really an issue, according to Blakey. “Consolidating our environment, however, did provide savings in the form of reduced hardware [including] maintenance, management, and replacement costs.”

“The Region of Durham was looking for something that would work on a larger scale,” said Ross Chevalier, CTO/CIO, Novell Canada. “They wanted to do all the work they needed to do without being in the office.”

Durham had been using GroupWise in the past, but they were versions behind, he said. This is the first time they looked to put every employee, on one access system, extending to all edge devices.

GroupWise integration with the RIM Blackberry Enterprise Server provides seamless e-mail integration, allowing PDA users to read and respond to mail in real time, Chevalier added.

“Regional governments are not awash with staff sitting around looking for things to do,” Chevalier said, adding that wanted to ensure its new enterprise messaging system did not create any security, extended management, or downtime issues in the future.

The Region of Durham can’t afford to be out of business for any length of time, Chevalier said.

From the perspective of the municipality’s staff, the new system responds to a long-pending need. “Employees have been asking for remote e-mail access for some time and are pleased it is now available,” Blakey said. “The uptake has been very positive.”

He said staff now want access to files, and anticipates this need too will be satisfied by rolling out iFolder once the NetWare consolidation has been completed.

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