Archive for August, 2008

Just Curious

August 25th, 2008 Comments off

This one is for any other sysadmins that happen to stumble across this blog…

Our school district has the worst data management possible. We have had active email accounts for people who haven’t worked for us in years.

It’s that bad. Actually it’s worse (although I don’t know if this counts as worse)…

We have no directory services in place – For each system or application we have that requires authentication, that system or app has had it’s authentication information maintained manually. It’s been a nightmare to say the least.

We’re finally implementing directory services (Apple’s Open Directory) and we’re planning on having it drive everything authentication-related. But we still have a problem with the data we get (or don’t get) from our HR department. A plan has been fashioned to use a PHP/MySQL customised system to give multiple people access to the data in our directory and update it as needed. I’d go into more detail, but I’ll be honest – this thing seems like it’s grown to monolithic proportions and I’m at a point where I A) don’t really know anything about it, B) don’t even think I understand it anymore, and C) don’t even have access to it.

So… my question is… is it wrong that I feel extremely hesitant (borderline refusal) to allow that much access (pretty much everyone in district – user password changes will theoretically be handled by this system) to the directory data?

Or am I just looking at it from a ‘Chicken Little’ point of view?

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August 3rd, 2008 Comments off

One of the projects I’m involved with at work is implementing a new email system. We’re going to be moving approximately 2100 users from Squirrelmail to the Zimbra Collaboration Suite. As part of the transition we’re not going to be moving user’s mail, instead choosing to go the fresh slate route. All of our users will still have access to their old mail for some time to get what they really need out of their mailboxes. We’re also going to be moving completely away from using mail clients, opting instead to have our users access their mail through the ZCS web UI and utilize all of it’s features. We didn’t make these choices lightly, but honestly our users have a habit of using their email for jokes, shopping, and more jokes – none of which I feel like moving. As for the mail client decision – anyone who’s ever migrated 3GB worth of email from one computer to another can probably see where we’re coming from.

In terms of the user experience, moving from Squirrelmail to Zimbra is akin to trading in a Ford Model T for a Dodge Viper. Zimbra has a beautiful AJAX UI that, while being easy on the eyes, is also extremely functional. Users essentially have all the functionality that they would expect from a locally installed client. One nice thing about Zimbra is that you’re not locked into using the AJAX interface – you can choose to use a standard HTML interface which is a stripped down version of the UI, but still a million times better than what we’re moving from.

One of the things I’m hoping to do with this blog is provide information on our Zimbra implementation that other admins may find useful. I’ve spent hours trying to find solutions to problems we’ve run into already (syncing Zimbra’s internal LDAP server with an external OD server and auto-provisioning new email accounts for instance) and if I can save another admin the hassle, I’ll be satisfied that I accomplished something.

Categories: OS X, Servers Tags: , ,