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SMBs and ITC

About 99% of companies in the world are small and medium businesses (SMBs). They generate more than half of the global GPD. SMBs constantly look for ways to reduce costs and increase productivity, especially in times of crisis like the one we are currently facing. However, they often operate under very limited budgets and limited workforces. These circumstances make it extremely challenging to offer suitable solutions that bring important benefits, at the same time keeping investments and operational costs within budget.

Perhaps, this is the reason why being an enormous market with almost infinite potential, technology vendors have traditionally shown scarce interest in developing solutions that adapt to the needs of SMBs. In general, enterprise solutions available on the market have been developed for large corporations and therefore their implementation requires considerable investments of time and resources, as well as a high level of expertise.

In the server market, this has meant that until now SMBs have had few solutions to choose from and in addition, the available solutions have usually been too large. Considering the real needs of SMBs - too complex to manage and with high licensing costs.

In this context it seems reasonable to consider Linux as a more than interesting SMB server alternative, since technically it has shown very high quality and functionality. The acquisition price, free, is unbeatable. However, the presence of Linux in SMB environments is symbolic and the growth is relatively small. How is this possible?

The reason is simple: to adapt an enterprise level server to an SMB environment, the components must be well integrated and easy to administer. SMBs don't have the resources or the time required to deploy high-performance, but complex solutions. Similarly, the ICT service providers that work for SMBs also need server solutions that require low deployment and maintenance time to stay competitive. Traditional Linux server distributions don't offer these characteristics.

Zentyal: Linux server for SMBs

Zentyal(1) was developed with the aim of bringing Linux closer to SMBs and to allow them to make the most of its potential as a corporate server. Based on the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, Zentyal has become the open source alternative to Windows Small Business Server. Zentyal allows ICT professionals to manage all network services such as Internet access, network security, resource sharing, network infrastructure or communications in an easy way via one single platform.

Zentyal allows to manage the network in an easy way

During its development, the focus has been put on the usability. Zentyal offers an intuitive interface, that includes the most frequently needed features although there are other, some more complex, methods used to carry out all kinds of configuration.

Importantly, Zentyal incorporates independent applications into fully integrated functions automating most tasks. This is designed to save systems management time.

Given that 42% of security issues and 80% of service outages in companies are due to human error in the configuration and administration of these systems (2), Zentyal is a solution that is not only easier to manage, but also more secure and reliable. Besides bringing Linux and open source to SMBs, providing them with significant savings, Zentyal improves security and availability of network services within the companies.

Zentyal development began in 2004 under the name of eBox Platform and it has grown to become a widely used and highly recognised solution, The platform integrates over 35 open source systems and network management tools into a single technology. Zentyal has been included in Ubuntu since 2007, it is downloaded 1,000 times every day and has an active community of more than 5,000 members.

There are over 50,000 active Zentyal installations, mainly in America and Europe, although its use is extended to virtually every country on earth. The US, Germany, Spain, Brazil and Russia are the countries with most installations. Zentyal is mainly used in SMBs, but also in other environments such as schools, governments, hospitals and even in prestigious institutions such as NASA.

Zentyal development is funded by eBox Technologies which also offers management tools and services designed to reduce maintenance costs of ICT infrastructures. These commercial tools and services are offered through subscriptions to Zentyal Cloud and include:

  • quality assured system updates,
  • alerts on events in the server,
  • reports on the system usage,
  • monitoring and central administration of multiple Zentyal servers.

Zentyal Cloud offers enterprise-level network which is always up-to-date and secure

Subscription services are aimed at two clearly different types of customers. On one hand Professional Subscription is aimed at small businesses and ICT providers with a limited number of Zentyal servers which always need be kept up-to-date, running and that benefit from system updates, alerts and reports. Alternatively Enterprise Subscription is aimed at large businesses or managed service providers who in addition need to remotely monitor and manage multiple Zentyal installations . Also, customers with a commercial server subscription can access additional subscription services such as disaster recovery, advanced security updates, technical support or Zarafa subscriptions.

These subscription services are complemented with additional services such as training, deployment and/or maintenance support - usually provided by certified Zentyal partners. Zentyal has a rapidly growing Global Partner Network that allows the company to offer the products and necessary services to SMBs all over the world. The most typical Zentyal partners are local ICT support and service providers, consultants and managed service providers that offer consultancy, deployment, support and full outsourcing of infrastructure and network services to their customers. For more information regarding the benefits and how to become a partner, please visit the Partner section at zentyal.com (3).

The combination of the server and subscription services provide significant benefits that translate into savings higher than 50% of the total cost of installation and maintenance of a SMB server, when comparing costs of a Zentyal server installation with the costs of a typical Windows Small Business Server installation.

About this documentation

This documentation describes the main technical features of Zentyal, helping you to understand the way you can configure different network services with Zentyal and become productive when managing SMB ICT infrastructure with Linux based systems.

The documentation is divided into seven chapters plus some appendices. This first introductory chapters helps to understand the context of Zentyal as well as the installation process and walks you through the first steps required to use the system. The following five chapters introduce you to the five typical installation profiles: Zentyal as a network infrastructure server, as a server giving access to the Internet or Gateway, as a security server or UTM, as an office server or communications server. This differentiation into five functional groups is only made to facilitate the most typical Zentyal deployments. It is also possible to deploy any combination of Zentyal server functionality.

Finally, the last chapter describes the tools and services available to carry out and simplify the maintenance of a Zentyal server, ensuring its smooth running, optimising its deployment, resolving incidents and recovering the system in case of a disaster.

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