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General Chat Thread, Own Email server? in General; If someone knows where to put this - please move it! Following on from our new Server (2008) and thoughts ...
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    witch's Avatar
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    Own Email server?

    If someone knows where to put this - please move it!

    Following on from our new Server (2008) and thoughts about putting Moodle on a separate Linux box...I am now wondering whether the time has come to break away from SWGfL easymail and do something ourselves. I have a reasonable sized old server or two that I could use, but I couldn't swing any money other than the cost of a new OS licence.
    So, the question is; is there a free email thing out there that I could use and is it reliable.
    Secondly, I am only part-time so would this be a sensible move - would there be lots of admin and yelling for help when I am not here? (I do 15 hours a week here - usually starting at 07.45am before the teachers get here).

    Thoughts gratefully received

    Ta

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    budgester's Avatar
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    Zimbra (on debian is my preference), and authenticate it to your AD.

    Simples.

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    witch (4th September 2009)

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    We are in the process of bulding an email server for the pupils atm. It is not sopmething to be taken lightly, especially for a linux newcomer.

    Its easy enough to get a squirelmail box up and running, very similar to a moodle install infact, but if you want more advanced features (which i persume you do) it gets abit more complicated.

    The 2 we had shortlisted are Horde Framework with webmail, which is a base framework which you can apps to such as shared calendars, file boxes etc.
    And as mentioned above Zimbra, which is what Yahoo mail runs on.

    I havnt had the greatest amount of time to play with them but i can say for certain they are not as straight forward as a moodle install.

    Other considerations are;

    security - you dont want your server to become a spambox
    word filtering
    group mailing
    spam filtering - whoes going to create/update the rules?
    user auth - are you going to use AD or just import a CSV. If its AD how are you going to punch through from your DMZ to your DCs?
    security again because your box is more than likely going to have an hacking atempt on it
    backups - no-one likes to lose emails
    reliability - 99% uptime may sound good but even that means 3 days in a year you will be without email...
    How quickly can you get it back up and running in the event of disaster? Is half a day long enough?
    Last edited by j17sparky; 2nd September 2009 at 11:57 PM.

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    witch (4th September 2009)

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    EduTech's Avatar
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    Yeah my personal preference would also be Zimbra if your looking for a free option, there are many alternatives out there but this is really the only one i have used and it just works

    If you can get the budget to get Exchange 2007/10 then i would also consider that as you can then look at using the extra fuctionallity at a later date.

    James

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    contink's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by witch View Post
    Secondly, I am only part-time so would this be a sensible move - would there be lots of admin and yelling for help when I am not here? (I do 15 hours a week here - usually starting at 07.45am before the teachers get here).
    Honestly... I wouldn't do it.. It creates another level of reliance on you that wouldn't really be ideal when someone turns off the wrong plug or something goes wrong.

    I would have a play and turn it into a non-critical item such as an internal email system as part of KS2 but I wouldn't go with something for admin, etc...

    If you did want to get into that then I'd look at a hosted service, just a bog standard webspace account for a few quid and get a suitable domain for the school.. IMHO That would be simpler, more effective and NOT a major problem for you to fix if it goes offline.

    Just my opinion but I think you've probably made enough rods for your own back... It's not like Secondary where you have backup on-site.


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    witch (4th September 2009)

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    ZeroHour's Avatar
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    tbh I would have to agree with Contink, what issues do the staff/pupils have with your current email host?
    Is it worth the pain of hosting it internally and do you have the bandwidth/reliability of net to handle it?

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    Would it be worth looking at using Google or Edu@Live services instead? Both a currently free for educational use, you don't need to support any hardware and their uptime is very good.
    I'm playing with the Google system at the moment and it is so easy to manage, provides both outlook integration and webmail immediately and most people are used to the Google way of things

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    witch (4th September 2009)

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    Ric_'s Avatar
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    I'd probably agree with Tricky_Dicky here. My preference would be Live@Edu though as it you can integrate it with Moodle.

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    witch (4th September 2009)

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    Jamman960's Avatar
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    If there is no chance of your hours being increased then I'd consider either sticking with the current setup or as abbove going for one of the externally hosted options although I'd presume that if you can increase the schools reliance on IT enough they may NEED to increase your hours

    Cost wise make sure you include spam filtering one way or another - we use Puremessage with exchange and most of the time 70%+ of our mail is spam. The last thing you want is to impliment an all singing all dancing mail service and then have everyone bombarded with spam day in day out. If I remember correctly we pay around 500/year for it(havent looked at the price in over a year though)

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    IanT's Avatar
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    If you can get the budget for an Exchange Server 2007 (or 2010 when its released) box then I would go down that route.

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    We've recently gone with Microsoft's Live@Edu for staff.

    You should have a domain allocated for your school already, {name}.{lea}.sch.uk that you can use to register with...may have to just get it hosted by a cheap isp etc.

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    witch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by contink View Post
    Just my opinion but I think you've probably made enough rods for your own back... It's not like Secondary where you have backup on-site.
    Well, actually I am in a worse position than your average primary school tech - we are actually deemed secondary, as we go up to year 8, and as such we have specialist subject teachers teaching children right from year 5 so it is much more like your traditional secondary than the primary where the children stay with one teacher all day (I work in one of those, too). What I mean is that the whole approach is more secondary-orientated, with IT much more used for shared resources and everything else. (and the children are definitely treated as far more grown up, even in years 5 and 6 than they are at primary).

    The problem with RM Easymail is predominantly cost - we are about to sort out the VLE (hah!) and we need email addresses for each child, as in a secondary, but the cost is prohibitive.
    No way to swing any more money for anything. I did wonder about the wisdom of hosting my own email, and I would love to have a go but time is definitely a problem.
    Something that integrates with moodle (if I ever get it working) would be ideal.

    Thanks for all your comments folks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ric_ View Post
    I'd probably agree with Tricky_Dicky here. My preference would be Live@Edu though as it you can integrate it with Moodle.
    You can integrate google with moodle

    http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=117354
    Moodlerooms - Moodle Solutions - Newsroom

    "This integration means that schools and institutions need only load their users into Moodle, and the integration will automatically load these users into their Google Apps Education Edition, providing users with Web-based e-mail, document authoring, spreadsheets, presentations and sites, all integrated with their online learning platform. This greatly simplifies the task of implementing a collaborative suite, as well as enables institutions to leverage the work they've already done integrating their platforms with their other systems,"

    but my vote is with zimbra for an in-house solution.

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    Hi witch,
    Do you license under a schools agreement? If so, I would be seriously considering Exchange - you get the obvious basic email functionality, but also the other features which would aid leadership like shared calendars, public folders etc.

    If Exchange isn't a viable option due to cost then Live@EDU would be my second best option. I've tested it on a "spare" domain and it works like a dream. As a couple of other people have said, it's easy to intergrate in to Moodle.

    The only other thing which springs to mind as you are a fellow SWGfL-er is, have you had a look at Merlin yet? It might be that it offers some of the features you are looking for while being free to the school (I would assume Dorset are financing centrally in a similar way to Cornwall... although could be wrong!)

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    witch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mb2k01 View Post
    Hi witch,
    Do you license under a schools agreement? If so, I would be seriously considering Exchange - you get the obvious basic email functionality, but also the other features which would aid leadership like shared calendars, public folders etc.

    If Exchange isn't a viable option due to cost then Live@EDU would be my second best option. I've tested it on a "spare" domain and it works like a dream. As a couple of other people have said, it's easy to intergrate in to Moodle.

    The only other thing which springs to mind as you are a fellow SWGfL-er is, have you had a look at Merlin yet? It might be that it offers some of the features you are looking for while being free to the school (I would assume Dorset are financing centrally in a similar way to Cornwall... although could be wrong!)
    No, no schools agreement here.
    We have looked at Merlin for a long time but as it is not a complete solution my boss and I looked around for something a bit better and we like moodle. We feel that Merlin - which still has loads of problems - isn't really enough for what we want to do. We have been to the engagement meetings and such and I liked it but he feels, long-term, that moodle would be better. Mind you, if we never get access to SIMS on the admin network (Dorset won't allow one school network) the whole thing won't work the way he wants anyway.

    Thinking about all this, the fact that I am not there for the major part of the school day, makes me realise that hosting my own email is maybe a bit unreasonable.

    still got to sort out getting Moodle integrated with IIS on, or off the server, but that's a whole 'nother thread!!

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