The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) operates 109 Lotus Notes servers at 51 locations in 45 countries for the UN Office at Vienna (UNOV), UNODC and several other United Nations bodies. The management of these servers, their installation and the in-country training on Lotus Notes use, is carried out by three staff members located in Vienna - Lotus Notes administrators - and one installation/training specialist located in New Delhi. The savings over the traditional route for using Lotus Notes in the Secretariat equals 24 staff and/or commercial support contracts each and every year.
In UNODC, Lotus Notes is used for many purposes, both at the Vienna Headquarters and in UNODC's 41 field locations. Such usages include email, chat (i.e., instant messaging), voicemail, telephone dialling, UNODC's global enterprise resource planning (ERP) and document management system ProFi, and the Electronic Office System (EOS) of integrated workflow modules which facilitate all the myriad management activities of UNOV/UNODC.
A reliable global network of Lotus Notes servers is vital to UNODC's substantive activities in the drugs, crime and terrorism areas. UNODC's solution has been to centralise all Lotus Notes operational matters in Vienna while deploying inexpensive Lotus Notes servers to each field location.
The heart of the operation in Vienna consists of two midrange computers which were designed from the ground up for running Lotus Notes exclusively. All email traffic from the Internet to all field locations passes through Vienna where spam is blocked and viruses and other malware are removed. All mail originating from any Lotus Notes server in the Secretariat also passes through Vienna and is delivered to the field in a median time of less than five seconds. To enable fast response for field staff using computer applications, all field-relevant applications are replicated, i.e., copied, between the field and Headquarters, and the reverse, every 30 minutes. For business continuity and disaster recovery purposes, all email files of all individuals are also replicated back to Vienna every 30 minutes. These two replication processes mean that all emails and all field data are available in Vienna. Because of this, for business continuity purposes, users in the field can be immediately switched to work remotely in Vienna if there is a server problem in the field. Further, all backups need be made only in Vienna for disaster recovery purposes. The Lotus Notes Administrators in Austria are Reinhold Strobl, Varghese Philip and Raghad Al-Samman, and the installation and training specialist in India is Chand Kaushil.
According to Phillip Kruss, the UNODC/UNOV Information Technology Service (ITS) Chief who designed the system, the user experience of having a local copy of all applications accessed over a high speed local area network is far superior to that of running applications remotely over relatively slow Internet or satellite connections. Further, using central management by a dedicated team of true experts means very high reliability and also never having to worry about business continuity or disaster recovery activities which may, or may not, be well carried out in remote locations.
Some facts, details and statistics :
• UNODC has installed, trained users for, and now manages 109 Lotus Notes servers in six Domino domains in 51 locations in 45 countries. UNODC also operates three other Domino domains belonging to three different UN bodies. These complex tasks are carried out by just 4 UNODC personnel.
• There are no Lotus Notes administrators in any UNODC field location and no-one in any field location has any access except as normal users of email, chat and the applications.
• All Lotus Notes administration tasks, including user management, monitoring replication and applications performance, and carrying out backups and other business continuity/disaster recovery activities are carried out by 3 staff member administrators in Vienna supported by 1 staff member in New Delhi.
• There are no disaster recovery facilities (e.g., backup tape drives) in any field location because the administration design means that all disaster recovery is done in Vienna and therefore no disaster recovery hardware needs to be purchased for, or operated in, the field.
• In major field locations, a Lotus Notes cluster provides first level business continuity services. For all locations, the design of the Lotus Notes network means that, in case of any local failures, users can be immediately switched to work directly in Vienna over the Internet with an average work loss of only 15 minutes.
• ITS manages Lotus Notes servers for: UNOV, UNODC, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), and the UN Office at Nairobi (UNON); for the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management's iCMS project and the Office of Human Resources Management's (OHRM) ePAS development project and Integrity Awareness project; and for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of the Government of Nigeria.
• Servers are located in Afghanistan, Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cape Verde, China, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, Egypt, Germany, Guinea-Bissau, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Liberia, Lithuania, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Senegal, Switzerland, Serbia and Montenegro, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United States, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
• All Lotus Notes users, regardless of their location, are provided server-based archiving. This allows the users to keep important mails for later reference while keeping the active mail box size small in order to provide good performance. The field office archive databases are also replicated to Vienna for business continuity/disaster recovery purposes and are available for Citrix users over the Internet.
• The system is very reliable. Despite the many difficult locations, the typical availability across the many servers is 99.9% during working hours. This is due to the fact that the maintenance or upgrade of the field office servers are performed outside local working hours and because of the total clustering of the mail and application servers in Vienna. It is worth noting that many of the field office servers are located where the availability even of electricity is an issue and that, despite this, the field office servers are also very reliable. In fact, as of 7 October 2008, one field Lotus Notes server in Kenya has now been running continuously for 523 days.
• The system is very cost effective. The incremental cost charged by ITS to purchase, deploy and install a field server, and to train the users onsite, is USD 10,000 including all hardware, software and mission costs.
• The system avoids completely the need for an onsite staff member acting as a Lotus Notes administrator or the need for any Lotus Notes support services from local companies.
• The system avoids completely the need for costly backup services in any field location and such concerns as whether the local administrator has made and tested backups or stored tapes properly.