Novell advances to higher learning

With the “double cohort” student crunch on the horizon and the loss of its original network solution provider, Wilfrid Laurier University was in dire need of an immediate replacement.

That position has been filled by Markham, Ont.-based Novell Canada, the company announced yesterday, which will be the sole provider of anywhere, anytime access to network resources for the university’s 11,000 full- and part-time students, staff and faculty.

Novell said the project was undertaken in two stages, with phase one already complete. In October of last year, the Waterloo, Ont.-based university selected Novell NetWare 6, the company’s platform for delivering Internet services across all types of networks, storage platforms and client desktops in order to provide students with improved network access. The university also opted for Novell Internet Messaging System (NIMS) as the standard e-mail and calendar system.

“(Phase one) was rolled out over the Christmas holidays,” said Ross Chevalier, director of technology for Novell Canada. “As they roll it out, the university will be able to take advantage of services including NetWare 6., NIMS and to deliver services through a Web browser. It gives their population Web-based access to services of Laurier including things like network drives, public printing and messaging.”

Carl Langford, manager of technical support for Wilfrid Laurier said that the university needed a solution that offered stability. The university had been a Westboro, Mass.-based Banyan Systems Inc. customer up until the company went out of business in 2000.

“We had to do something,” Langford said. “We are a pretty small staff compared to the size and complexity of our user environment. We need something that was stable and low-maintenance. That was our first draw to NetWare because it has that reputation. Once we got looking at the Web awareness of NetWare, that really struck a cord with us.”

According to Langford, NetWare has saved the university time and money in deploying software to student and faculty computers. He added that staff and students no longer have to be on campus to access information and files as long as they have access to a standard Web browser.

Phase one of Laurier’s roll out was completed in January and had so much success that Langford said roll out of Phase to has been bumped up from the summer to the spring.

“When the students came back after Christmas … it was such a non-event, we decided to start on the faculty and staff,” he said.

In Phase two of the project, faculty and staff will also receive access to school data through NetWare6, and will also use Novell GroupWise, an integrated messaging system as their standard e-mail. Novell said that the university would also be implementing ZENworks for servers and for desktops, which the company said automates and simplifies network management including distributing information across the enterprise to maintaining consistent policies on desktops, servers and devices. Laurier staff will also begin utilizing Novell Account Management 2.1, which unifies the management of user profiles on multiple platforms including NetWare, Windows 2000, NT, Solaris and Linux.

“It is a highly rapidly deployable environment and provides great flexibility and great scale,” Chevalier said. “From a usability perspective, it is much easier for students and faculty to do what they need to do. From an administration perspective, it allows Laurier administration staff to manage everything from a single directory that is massively scalable and they don’t have to go out and visit each of these workstations. They don’t have to load applications individually.”

This is especially important for Laurier this year with the double cohort of students expected as a result of the Ontario government’s decision to eliminate the Grade 13, or OAC year, from the Ontario high school program.

“The realization that our public access labs are already under a lot of pressure … was always in the back of our minds,” Langford said. “(Now students) can get at their stuff no matter where they are. People don’t have to go into the public labs anymore to do what they need to do.”

Phase two of Wilfrid Laurier University’s Novell solutions implementation will commence in the spring and is expected to be complete before the next school term.

Provo, Utah-based Novell is at