A Welsh council has introduced an open-source email system covering more than 150 schools with around 30,000 users.

Carmarthenshire county council moved to open source for the schools’ email system, migrating from a POP3 email system provided by its in-house IT development centre to an IMAP system, based on the open-source OpenLDAP protocol.

The new email system, built by open source specialist Sirius Corporation, gives the council a centralised, bi-lingual system designed to make the provision and management of pupils’ email accounts easier.

The use of open source, with no software licence fees, also offers the council a cost saving.

The government has recently come under fire for not making more use of open source in schools, with 130 MPs signing an Early Day Motion that criticises ministers and education IT agency Becta for “use of outdated purchasing frameworks,” which “are effectively denying schools the option of benefiting from both free and open source software.”

The Carmarthenshire email system now gives school children and teachers access to one of three different versions of the webmail client, tailored according to age. All users have access to the webmail client in both English and Welsh.

Email account administration has been simplified through the use of the GOsa management console, which also allows managers to control sending and receipt of mail from unauthorised recipients – an important child protection feature.

The system is built on a highly scalable hosting platform based on the Debian Linux distribution.