The north German travel agency Reisebüro Fahrenkrog didn’t just want to bring its outdated Windows environment up to date. With the aim of setting up an adaptable and open IT infrastructure, the company decided to introduce Univention Corporate Server.
Based in the city of Kiel, Reisebüro Fahrenkrog employs around 80 members of staff in eight branches across the states of Schleswig-Holstein and Bremen. It had been using a typical solution for a company of its size for around a dozen years: Windows workstations and a Small Business Server 2003 with Exchange in the back end. There was also some use of file servers with Ubuntu.
The environment had been expanded to suit requirements over time and was very cumbersome. There was no central point of administration: the manager and employees with good IT skills took care of day-to-day problems; in emergencies, they had to call in a specialist service provider. Exchange, which can only be used for a few users anyway, was as outdated as the server system. There were no user profiles, no distributed backup, and no cloud connection.
This resulted in growing maintenance requirements and higher downtimes. When searching for an alternative, more recent Windows server versions were discounted for reasons of cost. Complete outsourcing of the IT infrastructure to a service provider was out of the question for the same reason. In addition, the loss of control over the company’s data was also an argument against this solution. The aim was to establish an open IT infrastructure which could be better adapted to the company’s specific requirements. The decision quickly fell to Univention Corporate Server (UCS), and not just because it was also the most cost-effective solution presented.
The service provider Files Per Hour set UCS up with the groupware Kopano on two servers. The migration of individual, local user accounts to IT management was performed in stages with the business still running as normal. The changeover of what were previously six Exchange users to POP3 mailboxes for all employees was also performed during normal business without any interruptions to the e-mail traffic.
The fact that there was no centralized user management system in place proved a challenge during the migration. Some user data were unavailable and others were distributed across various systems. In the past, employees had logged in to a single local user account with one password for everyone. As such, the migration also involved splitting this local multi-user profile into multiple domain user profiles. This was done using the Windows Easy Transfer tool; however, some manual steps were also required to fine-tune the results.
In the new configuration, there are two UCS servers in use at the Kiel and Bremen sites. These are complemented by one NAS each as a domain member in the branches without their own server with user profiles and a file system. The Kopano groupware, Bareos backup, and Nextcloud each run on virtual machines.
Conclusion: Cost savings along with better performance and usability
The introduction of UCS has reduced the costs for support and the downtimes significantly. User acceptance has increased, since the central ID management and introduction of roaming profiles have facilitated work considerably. This applies especially for the branches with high visitor numbers, where employees often change between different computer workstations regularly. It is now also simpler for employees to switch between branches and the process can be managed from a central point.