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Minor work milestone - one less GroupWise server

Degrees (220395) writes | more than 6 years ago

User Journal 11

Today, my quantity of GroupWise servers went from ten to nine. And with that, my GroupWise system is running 100% on SuSE Linux. We powered off our last NetWare GroupWise server.

Today, my quantity of GroupWise servers went from ten to nine. And with that, my GroupWise system is running 100% on SuSE Linux. We powered off our last NetWare GroupWise server.

It took a while to get to this point. I've been 90% on Linux for two years now. But our old anti-virus gateway ran on NetWare only, and moving people to the new anti-virus (plus anti-spam!) gateway was never highest on the priority list. Last Friday, we flipped the switch, and everyone goes through the new system.

You may recall that I'm in an organization that is merging with another. Likely at some point, I'll be the GroupWise admin for their boxen too. They have 20 GW servers on NetWare. That conversion will be a nice big fat project to look forward to (assuming I don't get moved to something else).

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Migrating from Netware to Linux (1)

Cyberdyne (104305) | more than 6 years ago | (#24429869)

I do envy you that; the Groupwise cluster I use is still all-Netware, with the spam filtering done on Solaris. On the bright side, $200k later the 15 servers are all on one giant RAID 10 volume on the SAN, rather than one giant RAID 5. It now works at a reasonable speed most of the time, but still provides feeble amounts of space (300Mb per user, compared to the gigabytes being given away free by webmail providers now!), lousy IMAP service and pretty basic webmail. Our 15,000 users may not be an easy setup, but other universities this size (or larger) cope far better.

Meanwhile, the university I studied at gives users three times the space, with fully redundant (host-level mirroring) mail servers - including IMAP and webmail service, unlike the multiple single points of failure Groupwise still gives us - and cheaper, too. I'm not sure how much of the fault lies with Novell and how much with the IT department here, but I do know that the end result is a lousy service to all the end-users.

Re:Migrating from Netware to Linux (1)

Degrees (220395) | more than 6 years ago | (#24439379)

Well, 15,000 users over 15 servers is 1,000 users per server. That's pretty good. 300 MB per user * 15,000 users is 4.5 Terabytes. On cheap storage, that's nothing, but on expensive storage, that would be hard. We have Xiotech here, which is expensive (but works great).

A new facet of my job is e-discovery - I'm having to cough up the email data due to lawsuits. I had heard (at a conference in January) that email compliance and e-discovery in the university setting is truly messed up. Privacy laws keep email administrators out of the mailboxes, even when an e-discovery order tells them they have to go in. Retention on each mailbox is required, but looking in the mailboxes to figure out where the space went is verboten.

One thing GroupWise is not particularly good at is IMAP. At first it was handled through the smtp agent (the GWIA), but then it was moved to the post office agents, to be closer to the data. But that introduced problems of it's own. Turns out there are multiple behaviors of IMAP clients, and some of them play nicer than others. Of course, NetWare (and the services on it) can be pretty brittle, so having something make a weird IMAP call directly into the POA can be playing with fire.

I didn't think GroupWise would be all that expensive in a university setting. As long as the students stick with Webmail, the license cost is low. Of course, Google mail for universities is *free* (as long as the data mining aspect of it doesn't bother you).

Re:Migrating from Netware to Linux (1)

Cyberdyne (104305) | more than 6 years ago | (#24532781)

Fortunately, the 300 Mb is the quota limit (for staff - students get 40 or 50 IIRC), not the average size; actual storage used is a little short of 1 Tb. The storage is Sun/StorageTek, formerly RAID 5 (single FC loop), now RAID 10 (two FC loops).

The scary thing here is that the $200k cost is not the total system cost. It's not even the total hardware cost. It's the disk cost, for adding a bunch of 15kRPM FC drives to the existing disk array.

As far as I'm aware, we haven't had to deal with any sort of e-discovery so far, although I've heard discussions of archiving systems and retention policies. With quotas this small, it would be impossible to do from the server anyway: for most users, most of the e-mail has to be archived outwith the Groupwise servers anyway, to keep within the quota. (My boss has an archive running to several gigabytes, which is never touched; putting that on those mirrored 15kRPM drives would be painfully expensive, and when applied university-wide...)

Re:Migrating from Netware to Linux (1)

Degrees (220395) | more than 6 years ago | (#24537563)

Yes, FibreChannel drives are awfully expensive. I don't know if it qualifies as ridiculous or not, but it's bad. We just did a $210,000 SAN upgrade, but at least we got 30 TB for it. A different recent upgrade was twenty uber-powerful blades, that ought to do 2-4 virtual machines each. So that 30 TB is going to be carved up between 40-70 new servers (that will let us age out our gear).

My brother who works at a community college in Oregon just placed an order for 40 TB, and it only cost him $80,000. I don't know if that was FC or not. That was Dell/EMC IIRC.

My email archiving vendor specifically told us "don't put it on expensive disk". People just don't access their archives that much. For their backup product, they even say use the most economical standalone server with the largest chunk of disk you can get - and old box you retired from a previous project is fine.

So my archive server has 2 TB of SATA disk. I'm hoping that's enough disk space for the next three - four years.

Once I get Webfilesystem [webfilesystem.net] up and running, I'm going to try to deploy a Formativ applet that runs a wizard when the file attachment is too large. The wizard will stuff the attachment into webfilesystem, and queue the email to the recipient. Once I have an alternate process for using email as a file transfer protocol, I'll cut the maximum attachment size down to 5 MB (or smaller).

Re:Migrating from Netware to Linux (1)

Cyberdyne (104305) | more than 6 years ago | (#24540005)

My email archiving vendor specifically told us "don't put it on expensive disk". People just don't access their archives that much. For their backup product, they even say use the most economical standalone server with the largest chunk of disk you can get - and old box you retired from a previous project is fine.
So my archive server has 2 TB of SATA disk. I'm hoping that's enough disk space for the next three - four years.

*shudder* You just reminded me, we now have an "archiving project" underway, to make our setup all Enterprisey and such. Essentially, the plan is that all mail over a year old will be moved to a separate server and made read-only there, at enormous expense. Useless, of course, because the 300 Mb quota isn't enough to hold a year's mail anyway (increasing quotas significantly has apparently been ruled out on both cost and performance grounds), so everyone will still have to archive locally anyway; worse than useless, in that it's an extra server, extra expenditure and admin costs and another piece of proprietary software to support and troubleshoot, and making older email read-only and undeletable will introduce new support headaches and legal hassles (UK law requires you to delete all personal data once you've finished using it - which will now involve extra paperwork to get the read-only archive copy deleted as required by law) - except, of course, all mail eligible for this archiving will already have been archived locally to keep under quota, putting it beyond this archive's reach.

Once I get Webfilesystem up and running, I'm going to try to deploy a Formativ applet that runs a wizard when the file attachment is too large. The wizard will stuff the attachment into webfilesystem, and queue the email to the recipient. Once I have an alternate process for using email as a file transfer protocol, I'll cut the maximum attachment size down to 5 MB (or smaller).

Now that does sound like a neat solution. Migrating our biggest attachments into a pile of SATA RAID in a system like that would free up lots of space in the GW cluster, render the small quotas much less of a problem and boost performance as well — they'd never go for it, of course, not "enterprisey" enough. They want consultants in with a big ticket "solution" to justify their existence and extravagance instead — and as any politician knows, it isn't fixing problems which gets you votes/power, it's continually "working on" a problem which never quite goes away...

Re:Migrating from Netware to Linux (1)

Degrees (220395) | more than 6 years ago | (#24541617)

One GroupWise add-on vendor, Silverdane, at BrainShare showed off the ability to add "stubbing" to GroupWise. The idea is that the pointer to a message can be replaced with a pointer to a message in an archive ("Any problem in computer science can be solved with another layer of indirection").

It was a good enough of an idea, that Novell is adding it to GroupWise 8 (Bonsai).

So your project of implementing a read-only archive should get a whole lot easier with GW 8. Of course, you'll still need to pick from one of the five or six archiving vendors, and implement their product. So that will keep your PHBs busy for a while... ;-)

minor work milestone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24430069)

Thank you for remembering me and keeping me up to date on your progress. Your kind actions are appreciated.

We looked into SLES/Groupwise... (0)

bofkentucky (555107) | more than 6 years ago | (#24430919)

But we never could find a BES (blackberry) connector that passed our tests, are you supporting blackberries?

Re:We looked into SLES/Groupwise... (1)

Degrees (220395) | more than 6 years ago | (#24440075)

Yes we are. But the BES runs on a Windows server. That I have heard, RIM has no plans to re-write it to run on Linux. I've got about 150 BlackBerry users. The BES doesn't support more than one address book. That's my biggest problem with it. I love the BB as a lean mean email machine.

There is some sort of special deal, where if you buy GroupWise, you get CALS for a BES server and five BES users for free. If you have a lot of BlackBerrys in place, your dealer ought to be able to get RIM to give you the server license for free anyway. You'll pay maintenance, so it's still a good deal for them.... ;-)

We also have the GroupWise Mobile Server (Nokia Intellisync Gateway) in place. It has the advantage that there are no additional license costs with it; and, it they have a version that runs on Linux too. It doesn't do BlackBerrys; though it does (almost) every phone on the planet.

And for whatever reason, the iPhone isn't GroupWise compatible. Of course, it's the hot new thing right now, and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the GroupWise community. Novell isn't going to do native support for the iPhone. Notify Technologies will have a GroupWise client for the iPhone real soon now (in "August", oh wait, that's now). Apple was happy to give Microsoft early access to their SDK, but everyone else was told to kick rocks.

Re:We looked into SLES/Groupwise... (1)

illumin8 (148082) | more than 6 years ago | (#24510281)

And for whatever reason, the iPhone isn't GroupWise compatible. Of course, it's the hot new thing right now, and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the GroupWise community. Novell isn't going to do native support for the iPhone. Notify Technologies will have a GroupWise client for the iPhone real soon now (in "August", oh wait, that's now). Apple was happy to give Microsoft early access to their SDK, but everyone else was told to kick rocks.

I would say that's more of a Novell problem, to be honest. The SDK has been out since March or April, I forget, whenever Steve Jobs made the announcement about the product roadmap. Novell had plenty of time to write a native app for it, and since they already have a Mac version of the Groupwise client, porting it would have been much easier than writing a new app from scratch.

They can even do full push with the push API. I don't understand why Novell isn't jumping on this opportunity. They could give their customers a way to ditch the antiquated Blackberry Enterprise Server environment, along with all of the exorbitant Blackberry monthly fees, and go to a pure Groupwise->iPhone push solution. Cut out the middle man, use SSL to encrypt communications directly to your native iPhone app, and voila, kick Blackberry and their Windows only server architecture to the curb.

Well, it's not the first time I've been dissapointed by Novell's enterprise mail strategy, and it probably won't be the last...

Re:We looked into SLES/Groupwise... (1)

Degrees (220395) | more than 6 years ago | (#24515183)

Yeah, I don't know what the deal is. I heard from some people at Novell that they were excluded from access to the SDK - Apple said "You'll get it when it's ready". But then a developer version of iPhone 3G gets out, and it has a working MS Exchange connector. Novell asks WTF? and gets a story about how Microsoft paid Apple (and provided developers) to have the Exchange connector in there on launch day. Then Novell management recants THAT story, and it's an all confused mess.

I have no idea of what the real story is. The cynic in me thinks Eric Schmidt might be getting payback for all the Novell employees that didn't want to be dragged into the 21st century.

I am too disappointed that Novell didn't embrace the iPhone whole hog. Sure, some people [pbs.org] think Apple might go into competition with Exchange/Domino/GroupWise/Googlemail. But being on the outside of "the set of people happy with their mobile email solution" isn't a business sustaining choice. And it's true that Novell was previously pretty Apple friendly.

I like Novell, but they sure have lost their way.

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