FYI: All-inclusive messaging with Gordano

Talk about not playing favorites. The messaging server from U.K.-based Gordano Ltd., called GMS v.10, plays with proprietary and open source operating systems alike. Windows, Linux, Unix, AIX, it doesn't matter -- Gordano is platform independent.

Gordano director John Stanners puts forth some impressive figures when he touts his company's product: the fact that it works with any OS, that it can be set up on a Linux box in 15 minutes or less and that it can migrate a client's e-mail platform from Microsoft Exchange to the Gordano Messaging Server (GMS) in about a minute. However, does this lightweight have the functionality and support to truly be able to send Exchange reeling?

In this interview with SearchEnterpriseLinux.com, Stanners gives some background on his company, founded in January 1994 as InternetShopper; and then delves into the fact that a code rewrite in 1999 transformed the company's product into the universal recipient of enterprise messaging clients it is today.

Could you give our readers a bit of background on Gordano history? We have been around since 1994, with our first commercial released in January 1995. We were a Windows-only developer at first, but in 1999 and 2000 we underwent a rewrite of our software. We inserted an abstraction layer, which allowed the product to port to different platforms very easily. All OS-specific requirements could then just talk to the abstraction layer and...

then go onto the OS. The product now runs on Windows NT 2003, on versions of Linux like SuSE and on AIX and Solaris as well. As things developed over the years, GMS moved on from straight e-mail access to also include Web mail access and calendaring that has been built into the Web mail interface. How has response been since you started offering Linux support for GMS? The first Linux port was back in version 7 -- we're up to version 10 right now -- which had to be sometime in 2000 or 2001. A great majority of our sales are still on the Windows platform, but we are seeing Linux developing and becoming more of an alternative. We've seen development in a few ways. The bigger messaging systems are moving into Linux boxes because those don't have same hardware requirements; it's a much lighter hardware environment than Windows, at least on hardware.

[A] lot of expenses from migrating from [Exchange 5.5] to 2003 isn't actually pure software costs. It's the hardship and resource cost to make move possible.
John Stanners
DirectorGordano Ltd.
These bigger systems also tend to move a bit from Windows Exchange to Linux, with the majority of messaging systems driven to Linux; it's being driven by the Exchange alternative side of things in two distinct areas. With Exchange version 5.5 there is no direct upgrade path to 2000 or 2003, for example, so we're finding there are quite lot of people who have got to that point and have started asking what the next setup is going to be for their company. Going to 2000 and 2003 is also a very expensive move for them, both in terms of upgrading costs -- because there is no direct upgrade path -- as well as the large number of resources needed to run once it is installed. For readers who may not be familiar with Gordano and GMS, could you offer an explanation on how it is "platform independent"?
There is no operating system abstraction layer, and that allows us to write to the abstraction layer into our own software instead. Each dependency for each OS is then dealt with in that layer, and this makes it very easy for us to move or port to a new platform. It's now a matter of weeks, because it's not a matter of writing software. It's now just making specific changes in the abstract layer and the rest of the software remains the same. Gordano claims to have the capability to have GMS up and running on a Linux box "in 15 minutes." How does that compare to the industry standard?
Basically, we have own installation routines. We provide very sensible defaults within the routines. If our machine picks up a domain name from a machine, we don't need to enter and then set up very sensible defaults in 15 minutes. We can actually install on a Windows platform even more quickly; the record is under a minute. Things are slightly longer in the Linux world simply because [there are] more things to sift through. However, if factors like the Linux PCP are already set up properly, then the install is very, very straightforward. How does Gordano deal with migration issues during a port from Exchange to a Linux-based system?
As far as mail is concerned, this is completely automatic. With our system there is a tool called AutoPort that makes moving e-mail over automated. Basically, GMS is put on in place of the old Exchange server, we put on a new IP address and in GMS the old server is put on that IP address. GMS at this point knows nothing about users, so [when users] log onto GMS, GMS will consider [them] new users. It then checks each system, checks the old system and grabs all the user's e-mail and takes it onto GMS, making it available to the user. This is all done as part of [when the]user logs onto GMS, the rest is automated in background. When the user first logs onto GMS, they can expect the process to be longer than normal, but once it is done the first time, the user is then set up completely on GMS with the same user name and passwords. All new mail arrives into their new mail system. Would you suggest that a customer get comfortable with another type of Linux-based application before exploring messaging on this platform?
From our perspective it makes no difference, as long as they have an installation of Linux set up, PCIP and IP. Once GMS is installed, all management is done through a Web user interface, which is identical whether the OS is Linux, Windows or Solaris. All facilities are cross platform, so it makes absolutely no difference to GMS. Also, from the end user's or administrator's perspective, it makes no difference whether they run Linux, Windows or any OS for that matter. How are you actively pursuing customers who may not want to follow the upgrade path of Exchange 5.5?
As best we can. What we tend to do is simply talk with the press, from whom we have a number of good reviews from various professional journals. And not just in IT. We go after reviews in virtual marketing, financial journals, and try and pitch GMS very much for the ease of a changeover from Exchange to GMS. We also compared GMS to Exchange 5.5, in terms of the cost of the move to 2000 and 2003 and the relative cheapness of the GMS product. All of these factors together are what we hope are enough to bring customers away from Exchange. You mentioned just now the relative cheapness of your product. Could you do a general comparison of pricing?
People pay for Exchange in various degrees depending on their sector of business, and pricing quotes can differ depending on who the customers tend to be talking to at time. Nothing is that predictable, but a lot of expenses from migrating from 5.5 to 2003 isn't actually pure software costs. It's the hardship and resource cost to make move possible.

For more information:

Linux messaging and the Domino effect

 

Novell wise to users' messaging needs

Does the fact that your product is platform independent help with the learning curve that can occur with a migration between two messaging clients?
We set everything up, with the sensible defaults I mentioned earlier. Generally people install the software and can use it and don't need anything else. What they may want to change are additions in an extra-out key, secure mail, or they may want to set up some specific content for themselves -- but again we provide filters that are similar. These filters are maintained by our engineers at our headquarters, where they are physically checking and making sure issues like e-mail spam are captured without false positives and that updates are automatic every 15 minutes all through the day. It takes about 30 minutes to familiarize yourself with the interfaces … and some customers who have been looking at the product have thought they may need training for their IT departments for a couple of days, but they usually come back a day or two later and say they didn't need that after all.

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