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.

Technology vendors have traditionally shown little 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 over-sized. 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 attractive SMB server alternative, since technically it has shown very high quality and functionality, and the acquisition price is unbeatable. However, the presence of Linux in SMB environments is symbolic and the growth is relatively small. How is this possible?

We believe that the reason why this happens is simple: to adapt an enterprise level server to an SMB environment, the components must be well integrated and easy to administer. 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. It is the open source alternative to Microsoft network infrastructure products aimed at SMBs (Windows Small Business Server, Windows Server, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Forefront...) and it is based on the popular Ubuntu distribution. Zentyal allows IT 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.


Example of a Zentyal deployment performing different roles

During its development, the focus has been 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 advanced configurations. 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. To sum up, besides offering significant savings, Zentyal improves security and availability of network services within the companies.

The 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 30 open source systems and network management tools into a single technology. Zentyal has been included in Ubuntu since 2007. Currently Zentyal is downloaded over 1,000 times every day and has an active community of thousands of members.

There are tens of thousands of 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 Zentyal S.L. Zentyal is full-featured Linux server that can be used for free without technical support, commercial features or updates, or fully supported for a reasonable fee. The commercial editions are aimed at different type of customers, to get a customized quotation for your needs, please visit the Quote Request section at [3].

In case that small and medium businesses want to count on support from a local IT provider to deploy a Zentyal-based system, they can contact Authorized Zentyal Partners. These partners are local IT support and service providers, consultants or managed service providers that offer consultancy, deployment, support and/or outsourcing of infrastructure and network services of their customers. To find the closest Zentyal Partner, or to learn how to become a partner, please visit the Partner section at [4].

Zentyal S.L. offers to the Authorized Zentyal Partners a series of tools and services that help at reducing the maintenance costs of IT infrastructure of their customers and offering managed services with high added value:

  • Support platform
  • Training and certification of technical and sales staff
  • Sales materials
  • Discounts

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 six 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 four chapters introduce you to the four typical installation profiles: Zentyal as a network infrastructure server, as a server giving access to the Internet or Gateway, as an office server or as a communications server. This differentiation into four 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.