Is a Taste of ICE Easier to Swallow than the Whole Enchilada?


Despite costs and other headaches, overall users of ICEs (integrated
collaborative environments) like Exchange, Notes, and GroupWise are on the
rise, according to some analysts’ statistics. Meanwhile, certain
organizations are trying to get “the best of both worlds” by offering ICEs
to pockets of knowledge workers, while deploying lighter weight messaging
systems among the bulk of users. In some enterprises, responsibilities are
being split up between inhouse administrators and external outsourcers or
hosters.


Total ICE users worldwide will climb from 210 million in 2001 to 240
million in 2002, says a recent report by IDC. At the same time, though, IDC
predicts merely $1.57 billion in ICE revenues for this year, a slight drop
from 2001. Experts agree that organizations of all sizes are taking a
closer look at how to get more from their messaging bucks.


“Although few corporations have really gone through the work entailed to
define the true cost of running their messaging environment, it is probably
at least $25 to $30 per user, per month, by the time both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’
costs are included. And that does not even count the costs entailed in
upgrading to Microsoft Exchange 2000 and its required Active Directory,”
according to Tom Kucharvy, an analyst at Summit Strategies.


One way to mitigate messaging costs is to give ICEs only to those end users
who really need them. “Features such as group calendaring and the ability
to handle large attachments such as PowerPoint and Word documents are
really available only on enterprise-level messaging systems like Exchange
and Domino,” Kucharvy observes.


“You might want to use lower-cost messaging systems, however, with people
who don’t need those features, such as extranet partners, retail branches,
and factory workers, for instance.”


For inhouse administration, lower-cost alternatives to ICEs run the gamut
from older POP3 mailers to newer commercial lightweight messaging
environments like Novell’s NetMail.


The University of Kentucky, for example, is now running an inhouse system
that mixes NetMail with Exchange 2000. Exchange is being deployed among
about 1,500 to 2,000 users, “primarily university administrative types who
need scheduling of resources,” says Matt DeFoor, the university’s directory
engineer.


NetMail is doing a good job of serving the university’s other 30,000 users,
according to De Foor. About 14 months ago, the university decided to switch
to a commercial messaging system from a legacy system consisting of
Sendmail and Qpopper, running on FreeBSD Unix.


“My boss wanted me to use something that was supported by a vendor, so we
could fix problems faster if anything went wrong,” he says. “NetMail was
evaluated and chosen as our replacement system.”


Reasons for choosing NetMail included its Web-based interface, “open
standards support” for IMAP and POP, and native directory. “We have a large
NDS structure, and we wanted to use something that was directory-enabled
instead of using LDAP. The price was good, too,” De Foor adds.


De Foor estimates NetMail’s cost at about $6 per user, beyond the
university’s NLA. The school is also testing NetMail on Linux servers, but
hasn’t gone into production yet with messaging on Linux.


Why is the university using Exchange instead of GroupWise with school
administrators? “We haven’t really looked at GroupWise, because it hasn’t
scaled with the hardware,” according to De Foor.


Beyond inclusion of lightweight messaging systems in the mix, other money-saving
tips from analysts include internal consolidation of departmental
servers and storage; leveraging the messaging directory across
complementary applications such as wireless access, and either centralizing
or outsourcing messaging administration, support and help desk duties.


Depending on their own areas of specialization, outsourcers and hosters
offer help with Exchange, Notes, and GroupWise, as well as with non-groupware
systems. “You can mix together enterprise-level messaging with
carrier-grade messaging from Sun (formerly iPlanet) or Critical Path, for
example,” Kucharvy advises.


Judd Frahm, VP of managed services for Syntegra, backs up that point.
“We’ve had a number of customers questioning why they’re on Lotus Notes.
They had big aspirations for Notes, but they’re finding it’s over-priced for
what they need. It could be that they only want to run Notes with a subset
of their users,” he maintains. Syntegra plays in both the enterprise and
carrier spaces, using its own messaging server as well as Exchange.


When it comes to Exchange, you can also try to avoid upgrade costs, of
course. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) for instance, has opted to
host all its messaging with US Interactive (USi), but to stick with
Exchange 5.5, instead of moving to the pricier Exchange 2000. So, too, has
HR and benefits outsourcing firm Watson Wyatt.


Pick Your Partners

Generally speaking, smaller organizations tend to turn to full-scale
messaging hosting, whereas large organizations prefer traditional
outsourcing models, according to Kucharvy. There are plenty of exceptions,
though


Other factors playing into outsourcing and hosting decisions include
inhouse skill levels, which can vary dramatically from one organization to
another, together with complexities and costs associated with operating a
specific ICE.


Procter & Gamble, for instance, has decided to operate Lotus Domino and
related applications by itself, while offloading Microsoft Exchange
management to a partner.


Daimler-Chrysler, Circuit City Stores and AFLAC run their own internal
messaging systems, but use partners for management of their dealer, retail
store, and agent networks, according to Kucharvy.


“If you want integration with other applications, or if you have a spam
problem, you’ll probably look to a carrier,” Kucharvy suggests.


Platform considerations: Microsoft Exchange


Consensus isn’t unanimous on the costs and complexities of Exchange 2000.
Some even claim that growing inhouse deployments of Exchange 2000 are one
of the reasons behind slower-than-anticipated growth of messaging
outsourcing and hosting.


Wayne Dunn, principal consultant at AimNet Solutions, points to several
recent migrations from competing ICE to Exchange 2000, including Sybex
International’s move from GroupWise to the Microsoft environment.


“Exchange 2000 administrators only need to manage one directory:
Microsoft’s Active Directory,” according to Dunn.


Still, though, the Ferris Group has estimated costs of Exchange 2000
upgrades alone at $400 to $800 per user.


In the CFF implementation, “Exchange 5.5 = 100% of the seats, (and)
Exchange 2000 = 0% of the seats,” according to Greg August, CFF’s CIO.


In its first messaging deployment of all time, CFF is implementing Exchange
5.5 among 600 users at 60 different locations.


“Exchange was a ‘no brainer’ for us. We want to keep our focus on
fundraising, and keep our folks out in the field chasing after that. And we
needed something that works,” August says.


“Deploying Exchange inhouse, though, was really not an option for us. It
was cost prohibitive,” he adds. “Building up an IT empire, while it can be
fun, really was not practical.”


CFF chose USI because it “offered a comprehensive solution (and) the cost
was feasible, according to August. Other considerations included 24/7
support, availability/uptime, “in-depth security, a ‘state-of-the-art’ NOC,
and access to multiple levels of technical expertise.”


Watson Wyatt is also hosting Exchange 5.5 with USi. The company previously
devoted 52 staff members to running Lotus cc:Mail inhouse across 35 offices
in North America, Latin America and Asia, to a total of 4,250 users.


“Problems included significant downtime and difficulty in resolving
downtime issues,” says Michael Osterman, principal of Osterman Research.


Aside from providing much higher uptime, the hosted scenario has let Watson
Wyatt reduce its staffing by 40 people, and cut its messaging-related
staffing costs by 72 percent. Overall messaging costs went down by $1.4
million annually, or 39 percent, according to Osterman.


Conversely, the Kansas Farm Bureau Services (KFBS), another customer,
decided to step up to Exchange 2000 from 5.5 during adoption of USi as its
new Exchange hoster.


“It’s not an easy thing to do a migration from 5.5 to 2000, but overall it
was worth it,” recalls Amy Grothaus, KFBS’s Web manager. KFBS ran into some
initial problems with inhouse access to resource scheduling and public
folders. The organization is handling tasks such as new account set up
inhouse, while relying upon USi for overall management.


“We’ve also expanded the capability for our users to access e-mail from
anywhere with Outlook Web Access,” according to Grothaus. “This is a very
big plus.”


KFBS is also an example of an organization that used to run two different
messaging systems, but has now consolidated to a single system. Under the
original arrangement, mainframe messaging system was used at 220 internal
locations with 1200 seats, and a Eudora POP3 mail was used at five external
locations with 200 seats.


The Eudora messaging, though, was plagued by “limited access and lengthy
and frequent downtime, Grothaus says. Eudora was managed inhouse, but “not
as a priority.” In between the mainframe/Eudora implementation and USi,
KFBS used another hosting partner for Exchange 5.5.


With Exchange, the organization “wants to extend e-mail to all of our
users, so we could better service our members and also work more closely
with our business partners, (by sharing) data a lot more easily,” she
contends.


Outside of USi, other successful hosters specializing in Exchange include
Mi8, for example. At the high end of the large Exchange services market, HP
and Compaq have each been running Exchange outsourcing services for big
enterprises. “Now that HP has acquired Compaq, it must figure out how to
integrate these services into a single offering that addresses the needs of
HP, its customers and its partners,” Kucharvy points out.


Meanwhile, Sprint PCS BUSiness Solutions has been creating a hosted
wireless messaging implementation of Exchange/Outlook.


The Lotus Notes/Domino flavor


“Lotus Notes wasn’t designed as a true messaging product. It was a workflow
product, supported by a messaging component. It hasn’t been easy to find
people who could easily integrate Notes, because it’s had a very slow shift
to becoming non-proprietary,” charges AimNet’s Dunn.


For Microsoft, though, Notes/Domino is still the big one to beat. In 2001,
IBM held a 49 percent share of the $1.68 billion worldwide ICE market,
according to IDC. IBM was followed by Microsoft (39.4 per cent), Novell
(6.2 per cent), Teamware (1.8 percent), Centrinity (.0.5 percent), and
“other” (3.1 percent)


Some messaging partners, including Interliant and BT Ignite, offer hosting
and other outsourcing services for both Notes/Domino and Exchange.


Sprint E/Solutions provides Exchange 2000 hosting and remote management to
large and mid-sized organization, along with Sun (iPlanet) POP3 messaging
for corporate extranets. “Domino/Notes is supported through a third-party
relationship with Nexus Technology, but is not actively marketed,” Kucharvy
says.


Novell GroupWise & NetMail

Some detractors claim that GroupWise isn’t as scalable as other ICE.
GroupWise 6, though, increases scalability at least fivefold, according to
Howard Tayler, Novell’s GroupWise product manager.


“Where GroupWise 5 only supported 200 users on a server, GroupWise 6 will
support up to 1,000 users on the same box. If users deploy on to new
hardware, they might be able to support up to 5,000 users on a single
server,” Tayler elaborates.


Novell provides GroupWise outsourcing at customer locations through its
partners, according to Tayler Examples of GroupWise partners include DWS,
the Harding Group, and Viable Services.


“There really isn’t enough fiber out there yet to support the hosted model.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some good hosted providers. A lot of
customers, though, are holding off from hosting until the infrastructure is
in place,” he maintains


Most organizations that outsource GroupWise administration are SMBs,
according to Tayler. Larger companies tend to run GroupWise themselves.


Southwest Airlines, in fact, now has an inhouse deployment that mixes
GroupWise with NetMail. “Pilots and flight attendants, for example, can use
NetMail to access their e-mail from a Web browser when they’re out of
town,” Tayler observes.


The University of Kentucky’s De Foor says he only has a couple of items on
his NetMail wish list. “It’d be nice if NetMail had shared calendaring. I
don’t care for shared calendaring myself, but some of the end users do.
Some better anti-spam stuff would be useful, too, instead of having to
integrate with third-party tools.”


At this point, NetMail end users can write rules that will delete e-mails
from particular users or hosts. “It’d be great, though, if administrators
could flag e-mails as either ‘spam’ or ‘non-spam,’ on a systemwide basis,”
according to De Foor.


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Jacqueline Emigh

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