E-mail system to be replaced
March 3, 2011
In response to the increased e-mail interruptions, the UW-River Falls Information Technology Department will soon drop the current system in favor of Microsoft Live.
The termination of the current e-mail system was originally set to take place in fall semester of 2011.
In recent weeks, however, with the current instability of the e-mail system, the IT department has decided to bring this date forward. The exact date is not yet known, said Chief Information Officer Stephen Reed.
“We had issues at the beginning of the semester right off the bat and we can’t afford to have that to continue to happen on campus,” said Customer Technology Services Manager Sara Solland.
The two year project took place after much thought and consideration went into choosing a new e-mail system. The ability to partner with other UW System schools was a large deciding factor, said Reed.
UW-Stout Chief Information Officer Douglas Wahl said in a telephone interview that the UW-Stout community began using the same system in the Fall of 2009. When it came down to Google and Microsoft Live, it was found that Live could offer more gigabyte storage.
“Google offers only a small percentage of accessibility over what can be offered to students on Live,” said UWRF Infrastructure and Security Technology Manager Jason Winget.
“It is all of your communication needs in one,” said Reed. “One comprehensive collaboration suite.”
Live offers a 10 gigabyte e-mail and 25 gigabyte online storage, said Solland.
In addition to e-mail, it is an entire package with instant messenger and a calendar through Outlook Live. As for the additional storage, called Skydrive, users will be able to easily store documents and files and share those folders with other users, said Reed.
Reed said as a financial relief for students, the new system will also have online accessibility to Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. Reed added that there is no substantial cost for this service for the University.
A key component to the all of the applications, which are attached to an e-mail system, is that users will have access to the capabilities for any Internet device, said Division of Technology Services Communications Center employee Nick Wasmund.
IT currently services 14,000 active e-mail accounts, of those accounts students will have an indefinite change to Microsoft Live and will be able to maintain their accounts after graduation.
Faculty and staff will have access to it if they so choose, said Solland. A local account will also be made available for faculty and staff, added Solland.
“I probably won’t use many of the other features but I can imagine that a lot of other people will find use for them,” said lecturer Kate Maude.
Student Mike Pechacek said he was uncertain about the change because of all of the extra applications. Students Jennifer Giddings and Stephanie Kempf said they think that the current e-mail format, Squirrel Mail, is unreliable.
“E-mail is our main way of communicating with professors,” said Giddings. “I am really okay with the change, just as long as it is simple and fast.”
“Microsoft has invested millions so that it is user-accessible,” said Winget.
Wahl said the transition at UW-Stout was not difficult because students are so technologically versatile.Before the unanticipated e-mail disruptions earlier in the semester, the IT department had planned to establish a large pilot program this spring, said Reed.
“The largest disappointment for us is that we won’t be able to have that large controlled migration effort and student involvement we had planned,” Reed said. “Involvement will take place on a more concentrated scale.”
Microsoft Live has made a huge difference on the UW-Stout campus in terms of e-mail capabilities and that it has worked really out well overall, Wahl said.
“This is going to be an amazingly better than what we have seen in the past, the goal is to enhance student learning opportunities and accessibility,” Reed said.
The IT department will be holding a series of informational meetings and will be making online information available to the campus community. The timeline for all of this to occur is still uncertain.
No e-mails will be lost when the account addresses change to: firstname.lastname at live.uwrf.edu.