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Spain's Finance ministry offers open source email cloud service

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Spain's ministry of Finance and Public Administrations is offering other Spanish public administrations to use its email, calendar and address book services. The solution is built using free and open source software components. The system is in use since 2004 and is now servicing over 14 000 users at the ministry and at other government organisations.

The ministry last year decided to share its open source-based email solution with other parts of the government. The system offers each user a 300 MB mailbox, 24/7 support - including backups going back two months. The service, titled 'Servicio de Correo Electrónico Multidominio', was made available in the course of last year. Since then, the solution has been shared with four other ministries and departments. It is used for the hundred regional offices of the central government, the Agency of Evaluation and Quality, the Centre for Political and Constitutional Studies and by some of those working for the Ministry of Employment and Social Security.

The free and open source components that are used by the ministry include mail server Postfix and IMAP server Courier. Creation of mailing lists is possible, these lists are managed with Sympa. The systems also uses 389 Directory Server (previously known as Fedora Directory Server) for directory information. The combination works for a wide range of mail client applications, including synchronising of calendars, notes and address books. The software also allows access via webmail, for which it is using the open source solution Horde. The mail solution is running on Red Hat Linux servers.

Flexible cloud
"The IT department has tested several email solutions, including proprietary ones. In the end, we chose the most-flexible architecture and it has been a success for almost a decade."

The software is not redistributed by the ministry, explains a project manager at the ministry, as the system is merely a combination of common open source components. "We're not developing the multi domain server software. We've simply installed and configured open source products and are now offering it to others. You could consider it a cloud service."

Secure network
The ministry's offer is intended for the country's public administrations, who can use 'Red Sara', the Spanish network for Public Administrations, to sign up for the service. Other European public administrations that are interested in the system configuration can request details using Stesta. This "secured Trans European Services for Telematics between Administrations" is a private network connecting many of Europe's public administrations, supported by the European Commission.

The ministry is willing to make available a more detailed technical description of it service. "Public administrations and companies that want to know more can also contact the Spanish government's Centre for Technology Transfer."

More information:
Servicio de Correo Electrónico Multidominio at Centro de Transferencia de Tecnología
Servicio de Correo Electrónico Multidominio at Joinup