Linux not fit to travel with Tourism Calgary

As a former Novell NetWare and GroupWise user, Tourism Calgary’sdecision to standardize its network on Microsoft Corp. technologywas based on the IT manager’s belief that Linux isn’t quite ready for prime-time.

Tourism Calgary is a non-profit destination marketingorganization that supports the city’s $1 billion tourism industry.This includes feature attractions such as the recent CalgaryStampede, an event that is a huge draw with the city with 1.5million visitors annually.

During events like the Stampede, Tourism Calgary staff membersare constantly out of the office and require always-on email accessand a network with minimal downtime. A huge scale event such as theStampede greatly affects the IT system.

Novell is promoting the use of Linux everywhere, according toTourism Calgary’s IT manager Paul Scheirick.

However he adds that the organization just wasn’t ready to makethe transition to open source and a Linux-based server operatingsystem.

The organization started integrating BlackBerry devices into thenetwork and discovered that the only synchronization option was athird party application which, according to Scheirick, had limitedfunctionality. “It kept going down…which led to frustration forusers.”

Also, the organization was becoming frustrated with e-mailfunctionality and the inability to create group e-mail aliaseswithin GroupWise. Tourism Calgary, Scheirick said, sought to usegroup e-mail aliases as a means to properly distribute and protectclient data. Before, if someone left

Tourism Calgary and went to a different job, their sales dataoften went with them, he said. “Now we can keep that name or aliasname.”

Tourism Calgary decided in 2005 to standardize on MicrosoftWindows Server 2003 and Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. Theorganization’s legacy environment included Novell NetWare 6.5 andGroupWise and four ProLiant dual-processor servers.

Currently, the main server is running Exchange and a SQL serverthat’s running Microsoft Dynamics Navision.

Novell seems to be moving users over to Linux, Scheirick said.”We were pretty Novell entrenched but concerned about continuedsupport for NetWare.”

He said Tourism Calgary is also currently testing visitor kiosksthat feature VoIP-enabled phones at key locations such as the localairport. These kiosks, he said, would also have an impact on theoverall network.

“I have no Linux background – I’ve grown up in a Windows worldand am used to the GUI.
Exchange was simply a more attractive offering and a better fit forthe organization.”

Linux-based vendors such as Novell are acutely aware that usersmay not be comfortable making the switch. In Tourism Calgary’scase, Scheirick said it was simply a matter of being unfamiliarwith Linux and being not yet willing to move to open source.
In a recent Network World interview, Novell CTO Jeffrey Jaffe notedthat the firm is committed to Linux and is taking a pragmaticapproach to migration. The next six months, Jaffe said, is animportant time for the industry when it comes to choosing betweenWindows and Linux.

“What we’re telling folks…is that if you’re going to make suchan important decision, you should have an in-depth knowledge of thefact that for the first time there really is choice. There reallyis an alternative.”

Users should be looking to develop a Linux pilot project todetermine if the technology is a good fit, Jaffe said. “You can runeither NetWare or Linux as the OS. We’re telling [customers] to godo your pilots, tell us what we need to do to improve product, thenyou do your full migrations and rollouts….any operating systemtakes multiple years to do that [kind of transition].”

But Scheirick believes that switching to Microsoft made thenetwork more reliable, and increased interoperability with mobiledevices. The firm was initially concerned with Windows securityissues but is coping better than expected, Scheirick said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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