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IT announces new e-mail systems for students, employees

by UofL Today last modified Sep 15, 2010 02:07 PM

The University of Louisville will switch e-mail systems for students, faculty and staff over the next 15 months.

The change is part of a larger initiative that includes moving to Microsoft products for document sharing, account provisioning, virus protection and file/print services.

The basic timeline for the e-mail changes looks like this:

  • November 2010: Newly admitted students for the spring 2011 semester and fall 2011 semester will have CardMail accounts.
  • January-April 30, 2011: Current students will be asked to move their accounts to CardMail.
  • May 2011: Information Technology will close any student account that remains in GroupWise.
  • July 2011: Information Technology will pilot Microsoft Exchange for faculty and staff.
  • Fall 2011: Faculty and staff will migrate to Exchange in phases.

Information Technology will have an open forum on the e-mail changes Sept. 22 at 9:30 a.m. in Bigelow Hall, Miller Information Technology Center. Sande Johnson-Byers, assistant vice president, will present a project overview and take audience questions.

UofL Today talked to Johnson-Byers and Alice Radmacher, enterprise security analyst, about the changes.

UofL Today: Why is IT making changes in e-mail and other systems?

AR/SJB: We must ensure that the university is positioned for the long-term.

SJB: In the case of our e-mail system, UofL students and employees have consistently told IT (through annual customer satisfaction surveys) that they want an e-mail system that accommodates a wide variety of technology.

Their concerns led us to seek a better solution for their needs than GroupWise could provide. GroupWise is not the industry standard for e-mail and does not easily integrate with other applications, like unified messaging or mobile synchronization. Technology advances so quickly these days. We need a flexible e-mail system that delivers the latest trends in e-mail services yet can easily incorporate emerging technologies. Microsoft gives us that capability.

UofL Today: Why are students going to Microsoft Outlook Live and faculty/staff going to Microsoft Exchange?

 AR/SJB: Today, many UofL students prefer to use their personal e-mail accounts instead of their UofL e-mail accounts. We think that will change with Outlook Live. Microsoft designed Outlook Live specifically for students, so the e-mail interface feels familiar and is intuitive for them to use. Also, Microsoft Outlook Live provides services tailored for today's on-the-go student.

For example, the Windows Live SkyDrive allows students to store, retrieve and share up to 25GB of documents and photos. Because their files are stored in the "sky" or "cloud," students can access them anytime, anyplace.

Faculty and staff needs differ from those of students. As a major research institution, our e-mail services need to be effortlessly accessible from any device in any location. As such, integrated messaging, improved mobile synchronization and centralized archives led to the decision to implement Microsoft Exchange for faculty and staff. Exchange is considered an industry standard e-mail system. Our faculty and staff will benefit from the flexibility and usability inherent in the system.

UofL Today: Are students still going to be in the same address book as faculty/staff?

AR: Yes, we are maintaining this level of integration. All students will appear in the Exchange address book and all faculty/staff will appear in the Outlook Live address book.

UofL Today: Is the migration something that e-mail account holders are going to have to do themselves?

AR/SJB: Students will be able to migrate on their own using a tool provided by Microsoft. The migration for faculty/staff will be carefully coordinated by Information Technology with the departments and their Tier I support staff to minimize any disruption to business processes and to ensure that assistance is available when each department migrates.

UofL Today: You have said that there will be a pilot in 2011 of Microsoft Exchange for faculty and staff. What will that look like? Will it involve a subset of faculty and staff?

 AR: The initial pilot will involve only Information Technology so we can identify and correct any problems before expanding Exchange into other departments.

UofL Today: What other changes are part of this move to Microsoft?

AR/SJB: There are several. A product called Active Directory will lay the foundation for completing the move from Novell services to the Microsoft Suite of products. Those include Forefront Online Protection for Exchange which will replace Symantec antivirus and our current spam solution. We no longer will use Novell for account provisioning and password management. Additionally, a centralized archive solution will be implemented to improve accessibility to and security of individual e-mail archives. The last phase of the project will involve moving from the current LAN to Microsoft's solution for file and print.

We have begun to implement Active Directory as part of the DocuShare to SharePoint migration, which we've completed. We will complete the rollout of Active Directory in spring 2011, and will be positioned to put everything else in place.

UofL Today: What else should people know that I didn't ask?

SJB:  IT has formed a group to review policy-related issues around e-mail. This group has representatives from the Faculty and Staff senates, SGA, HSC, Academic Technology and Tier I Advisory, Human Resources, Business, Student, and Undergraduate Affairs, University Hospital, Internal Audit and Information Technology.

This month, a subset of this group will participate in a two-day workshop to develop recommended policies for the central e-mail archive solution. They will consider compliance, legal and other issues related to the retention of e-mail.

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