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Red Hat helps Interakt Contour with efficient mail usage

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  In 2004, Stichting InteraktContour was faced the challenge of replacing its mail server. In particular, there was demand for a scheduler that could be efficiently shared and viewed from any location. The company compared the benefits of a Microsoft Exchange solution with those offered by Red Hat solutions.
Solution   Software: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 with Zarafa 6.30
Hardware: HP proliant DL 360 Intel servers
Benefits   In choosing Red Hat solutions over Microsoft Exchange, Stichting InteraktContour saved an initial 60,000 euros and will continue to save additional funds over time. With Microsoft solutions, the company would have increased its licensing and training costs substantially. With Red Hat solutions, TCO was greatly reduced.
Stichting InteraktContour also enjoyed outstanding management features and connectivity between open source products including PHP/MySQL and its various existing databases.
The company benefited from a simple and easily implemented solution with Red Hat too.
Alternatively, with Microsoft solutions, the company’s IT implementation was deemed very complex.



Stichting InteraktContour was created in 2004 as a result of a merger between Stichting Interakt and Stichting de Contour. It currently has approximately one thousand employees
who provide care services to people with physical disabilities. In particular, persons suffering from non-congenital brain damage. The company’s activities focus on three areas including daytime activities, home visits, and residential care. Although its customers are very diverse, each has the ability to lead an independent life despite their handicap—thanks to the proper care provided by InteraktContour. The organisation currently has approximately 1,500 customers who are in daily contact with their
care attendants.

With approximately one thousand busy employees, Stichting InteraktContour’s activities result in sizeable daily mail traffic. At the time of its challenge, the company’s heavy mail traffic consequently resulted in an increasing need for mail facilities that could be shared and viewed from any location. The foundation was using 12 servers including Citrix servers, various database servers, a small number of file severs, and Windows 2003 as the primary domain controller (PDC). Each server was managed from the company’s headquarters in Hengelo, where its IT department is based. At other locations, the organisation used 10 file servers running Linux. Stichting InteraktContour’s IT department noticed that its mail server running Windows 2000 was becoming exceedingly slow. The maximum user limit that the server’s processor could handle had been reached. It resulted in frequent delays in webmail traffic. Henk-Jan Lievers, the systems administrator at InteraktContour, initially thought that increasing the computational power of the mail server would help, but soon realized it was merely a temporary solution. The IT department considered purchasing Microsoft Exchange because the suite could be integrated with Active Directory. It was thought that it would fit in well with the Windows environment already in place. “Microsoft Exchange seemed the obvious choice for us,” said Henk-Jan Lievers. “But as the result of my previous positive experiences with Linux regarding file servers, I was interested in learning more about an open source solution involving mail server facilities. I checked and compared various Linux solutions via the web.” During the same period, the organisation was going through a merger with Stichting de Contour. As the number of mail users grew from 500 to 700, the mail requirements continued to increase. The IT department was faced with the choice between Microsoft Exchange and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. During the evaluation phase, aspects such as a stable and secure system, a low management workload, and low costs were high priority.

After an evaluation of the Microsoft Exchange option, it quickly became clear that the total cost of the solution would be too high. Both the licensing costs and the costs involved in training the company’s IT staff would increase substantially with Microsoft. And the implementation of the solution would require a major effort. The IT department also had doubts surrounding the success of a migration from its previous system to an Exchange environment. Stichting InteraktContour searched for an open source equivalent of Microsoft Exchange. The company came across B&IT Netwerk that holds a Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) certification. Henk-Jan Lievers had already heard positive reviews of Red Hat Enterprise Linux and the major benefits of the support offered for the solution. InteraktContour soon decided to implement Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 on an HP Proliant DL 360 server with Zarafa 6.30 as its mail/scheduler suite. “Prior to the implementation of Red Hat solutions, we exhaustively tested this option in Fedora Core 4 and everything worked like a dream,” said Henk-Jan Lievers. “Completely prepared for the implementation, we and B&IT were able to perform the migration to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5/Zarafa 6.30 on a Saturday morning. For this purpose, all mailboxes had to be migrated from the existing server to the new server. There was to be no impact on user productivity and data loss was out of the question.” Within a couple of hours, the migration had been completed flawlessly. On Monday morning, Stichting InteraktContour’s mail system was up and functioning
with enhanced capabilities.



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