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A few years ago we migrated student email hosting to Microsoft's Live.edu service.  Microsoft offers this service for free, and offers considerably more storage than we can afford to provide.  As with all technology related things, the time has come to upgrade the student email service.  Microsoft would like to migrate all student email accounts to their O365 service.  On September 30, 2013 they will shutdown the existing Live.edu service.  Hence, we must make a change.  The question arises as to what change to make?

A little history about the current setup:

Although our onsite Faculty/Staff email host and the students Live.edu host were supposed to operate as one organization, this promise has never been realized.  Having the student email and the F/S email separate has caused some issues over the years.

  • Microsoft likes to make changes to Live.edu and not tell us about it.  Their change then breaks things for our students. 
  • Administering Live.edu has been a large effort for IT.  Lots of custom scripting has been required. 
  • We have been unable to have free/busy calendar sharing with Live.edu, nor the ability to delegate employee mailbox responsibilities to students.
  • When students move to employee status or employees take classes, they wind up with two email boxes.  This has led to some confusion. 
  • Microsoft has limited us to sending to 25 students per email, and certain size limitations that we have no control over.

The pluses have been:

  • Students get 15 GB of storage (although no one is using more than 2 GB currently)
  • They were able to keep their @vikings address for life (very few graduates are still using their vikings address)
  • They also received a fair amount of storage from Microsoft (over 10 GB at last count).

There are currently three options under consideration to replace the current setup.  Other options have been discarded as impractical. As we look for a new solution, we of course what to try to learn from our past experiences, and make a choice that will hopefully eliminate most of the issues we have experienced in the past.  Our goal is to make this transition as painless as possible for everyone, especially the students.  Microsoft is not making this easy.  We also want to be functioning as one mail organization again. Not two different ones loosely associated.  So, since we want to be one organization again, that precludes us moving the students to Google.  We have also examined and dismissed the thought of just not offering student email.  So, that leaves:

Option 1: bring student email back into our onsite employee email host:

Advantages:

  1. We are one organization again.
  2. We have complete control of our services, servers, policies, etc.
  3. We know the tools to use to administer our onsite setup.
  4. This is a nice simple setup.

Disadvantages:

  1. We might need an additional server to handle the load (probably about $10,000-12,000)
  2. We will incur the costs to keep the data backed up. Too many options to price reliably.
  3. Amortization costs would be estimated at around $10,000 (for both student and employee servers, storage, and software)
  4. Disaster recover is our responsibility. 
  5. We have to continue to deal with SPAM filtering and keeping ourselves off of email blocklists (disallows us to send email to various places).
  6. Student email storage would be limited to under 3 GB.

Option 2a: move student email to the new Office 365 and federate with onsite Employee email:

Real Advantages:

  1. We do not incur the costs of additional servers, storage, backups on site.
  2. Better disaster recovery.
  3. Calendar & Free Busy sharing, and delegation should work between the Employee email system and the student email system (presuming federation works as advertised).

Theoretical Advantages:

These are only an advantage if the students utilize theses services fully (which to date most have not),  Most of these services are available from a multitude of companies on the Internet.

  1. Students get 25 GB of email storage (I doubt they care based upon Live.edu statistics)
  2. Students get access to SharePoint for collaboration, and 7 GB of SkyDrive Pro storage (easily accessible from Windows desktops only) 
  3. They get access to Microsoft Lync/Skype (ability to do large virtual conferences, presence info, and messaging). 

Disadvantages:

  1. A fair amount of faith in Microsoft Federation is required for us to presume this will inter-operate with the employee email system as advertised by Microsoft.
  2. Administrative labor required to maintain the federated setup will be considerable.
  3. It must be a complex setup: Initial estimates for consultants to do the federation start at about $15,000 - $20,000 (they expect it will take 100 hours give or take).
  4. This will require additional servers to allow for high availability.  Probably only $5,000 or so.

Option 2b: move all email to Office 365 (Employees included)

Real Advantages:

  1. We get out of the email hosting business, and save management and amortization costs.
  2. Employees & students are truly one organization again.
  3. No federation required.
  4. Administrative labor required to maintain would be significantly decreased.
  5. Microsoft handles all SPAM issues, and keeps us off blocklists
  6. Employees get 25 GB of storage for their mailboxes.

Disadvantages:

  1. Loss of control of Employee email service to an unresponsive outside organization.
  2. Reliance on outside tech support which is terrible.
  3. Troubleshooting cloud services (O365) requires more technical expertise than troubleshooting a local mail system.
  4. Advantages only available after employee mailboxes are moved to Office 365.  This might not be a quick process.
  5. (possible) Microsoft might not continue to offer it for free.
  6. We would need to switch to Cisco for VoiceMail, or incur $20,000 in annual costs to have voicemail hosted in the cloud.  Switching to Cisco would be costly up front ($25,000) for the software, plus implementation costs.  This would also require re-training the campus.

 

My thoughts on all this are as follows:

Option 2a (federation) is my least preferred of all the options.  Having two mail organizations has not been a good experience in the past, and I do not really expect it to be a good experience in the future.  I recommend we bring the student email back onsite. This is the cleanest and cheapest route.  Regardless of which direction we choose, Microsoft is going to make this a confusing transition for our current students.  We are still exploring our options to make things less confusing, but the outlook is not good.  Let me know your thoughts and/or questions on these options.  We will need to make a decision very soon, so we can communicate our choice to students.

 

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48 Comments

  1. I prefer that we move all email to O365.  We spend way too much time and labor on maintaining a service offered free in the cloud.  Or relatively inexpensively if you consider not having to administer it or pay for the servers, etc.  I suspect many users connect their NPU email to gmail anyway.  

     

  2. I'd also like to point out that whichever option we choose, it's probably best to have all NPU email addresses on the same service.  Either all on O365 or all on NPU servers in-house.  

  3. Option 2C:

    Move everyone to Gmail in a step-by-step process, starting with faculty, then staff, then students.

    Pros:

    1. We get out of the email hosting business, and save management and amortization costs
    2. Employees & students are truly one organization again.
    3. Administrative labor required to maintain would be significantly decreased.
    4. Google handles all SPAM issues, and keeps us off blocklists
    5. Everyone gets 25GB of storage
    6. 99.9% uptime
    7. We are one organization again.
    8. This is a nice simple setup.
    9. Unified calendaring, document collaboration and storage
    10. Familiar and versatile system that plugs in well to advancing technology

    Cons:

    1. Learning curve for IT
    2. Learning curve for students
    3. Learning curve for faculty/staff
    1. swc AUTHOR

      I did not ask for additional options.  I mentioned that option had been considered and discarded.

  4. Though I do like the idea of moving to Gmail in theory, I see a few more drawbacks:

    1. Not integrated with our current MS Active Directory for accounts.
    2. Would likely create a second Gmail account for users (NPU-Username@gail.com for instance).
    3. While MS support is sketchy, I suspect Google's is even worse.

    On the positive side, we could deploy Chromebooks over iPads/laptops.

  5. Unknown User (jsanders)

    What does this mean?

    Microsoft has limited us to sending to 25 students per email, and certain size limitations that we have no control over.

     

    I think office 365 will have other advantages:

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/academic/

    I am particularly interested in how students, professors, and staff will react to collaboration features.  I can see how processed may become more efficient because of the collaboration tools.

    I vote to join the rest of the world and move to O365 with option 2b.

     

    1. swc AUTHOR

      If you tried to send to more than 25 Vikings recipients at once, Microsoft would bounce the email back as undeliverable.  If you wanted to set an attachment size limitation greater than 25 GB you could not.  When things are in the cloud, you are limited in many ways.

  6. From Professor Jon R-K:

    Steve knows I really like gmail.  Some pros I see:
    -- Many students/faculty/staff already are very familiar with gmail.  This would be a popular move and the learning curve would be small.
    -- Gmail's spam filter is by far the best I've seen.
    -- Gmail works very well on many different devices -- from phones to tablets to computers.  It will be easy for students to access their gmail just about anywhere. 
    -- Many other schools have made gmail work -- I would think we can as well.
    Google is pretty hungry for .edu accounts.  Might be worth contacting Google and see if they would have a rep come to North Park and make a formal presentation to you IT folks.  That would cost us nothing and would give us a chance to ask questions.  
    -- Jon
  7. MS is moving away from the desktop

    http://www.infoworld.com/d/microsoft-windows/windows-blue-confirms-desktops-days-are-numbered-215240

    Desktop sales are down

    http://money.cnn.com/2013/04/10/technology/pc-sales/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

    Dell's future is in limbo

    http://www.zdnet.com/dells-directors-forecast-a-grim-future-for-the-pc-industry-7000013303/

    NPU users are embracing iPads/iPhones.  We have 60+ public Mac computers spread over 3 labs and one library loaner cart.  And no one has complained about adjusting to an OS different from Windows.

    Move away from MS and toward Google's email and other tools.  Move away from Windows and towards Apple's hardware and OSs. 

  8. swc AUTHOR

    As mentioned in my post.  We are NOT moving the campus to Google.  So, drop that discussion.  I am looking for comments on the options outlined in the document.  A complete explanation of why not to go to Google is (very briefly) as follows:

    • Their web client is pathetic compared to Outlook, especially for heavy users.
    • For Employees, there would be a huge amount of re-training
    • For IT, we would have to learn and integrate to a completely different ecosystem using completely new tools.
    • The cost of tools to migrate to Google are a minimum of 3 times what a move to O365 will cost.
    • We have no idea how well email conversion and migration would work from Exchange to Google.

    But the best question is WHY?  Just because people use Google at home and like it (I use it at home), that does not mean it is suitable for our corporate needs. What would be gained by moving to Google vs O365?  Nothing in my opinion,  It would just create increased complexity in attempting to provide a seamless experience for employees and students.

  9. Unknown User (jrienstra-kiracofe)

    Thanks to Ken for fixing things so that I can post comments now!

    RIP Gmail!

    My question – what are other schools our size doing?  What can we learn from those schools?

    -

  10. From Marijean Sahyouni:

     

    I agree that Office 365 sounds like the best option (although I also like Google).  But I think that we have to go with the employee supported version.  We rely heavily on email here in the School of Music, among faculty members and staff.  Although I do send email to the students on a regular basis, I will use OrgSync to send messages after everyone is added (by the Fall).  Students do not check their emails like they should.   Also, since I split the School of Music roster into 2 lists, I am able to send to more than 25 without them getting bounced back. 

     

    Thanks. 

    Marijean Sahyouni

    Office Manager

    North Park University School of Music

    773-244-5630

  11. Unknown User (jcurry)

    Thanks for providing a little explanation for why gmail is off the table, Steve.  It's always helpful to have the background on why a potentially popular option has been removed from the table.  I second Jon R-K's desire to know what other peer institutions have chosen for their email systems.

    My first thought in an email change (or any change like this) would be, "Do no harm." Whatever choice we make, I suggest that we ensure that it has the least impact on students.  I would rather have temporary disruption and confusion for faculty and staff than for students.  And be aware that nearly half the student population using the email system are non-residential adult and graduate students.  Do we have a clear sense of how their needs and uses of email differ from the traditional-aged residential students?

    My second thought is not to confuse users' actual practice with users' perceptions.  For example, students may not use certain features much, but that doesn't mean that they do not perceive those features as valuable and desirable... and would be disappointed to discover that those features had disappeared.  I don't really need the seat warmer in my car, and I only use it a few days out of the year, but that doesn't mean I don't like it.  As King Lear said, "O reason not the need." Perception is important.

    My third thought is to keep integration in mind.  It seems to me that the email and portal discussions are not entirely separate.  The more integration we can achieve between email, portal, and Moodle, the better for our students, I think. 

    Thanks,

    Jud

  12. In Option 1, Disadvantage 3, does the estimated amortization cost of $10,000 mean ongoing annual expenses exclusive to that option?  Does that estimate include expenses for the backup, DR, and SPAM software/hardware mentioned in disadvantages 2, 4, and 5?

    For Option 2b, is the only real disadvantage (known disadvantage after the transition) the "Loss of control of Employee email service to an unresponsive outside organization"?

    In your "My thoughts…" section, it says "If we are willing to move the employee mailboxes to be with the students on Office 365, this is my preferred option."  Who is the "we", and is the "Loss of control" disadvantage the only reason to not be willing to move employee mailboxes to O365?
  13. Unknown User (jrienstra-kiracofe)

    Another thought here – for a good percentage of my students, I get e-mails from both their vikings account and their off-campus account (gmail, yahoo, etc.)  So if we bring student e-mail back to campus, could we have the option of allowing students to simply have a northpark.edu address that does nothing but forward/redirct e-mail to an outside account?  That way students can opt to have a gmail, etc. account but still have the northpark.edu address that faculty/staff can use to contact the students directly.  What are the pros/cons to this?  Would it save you costs on storage allocation since students who have e-mails redirected do not need their messages stored on our servers?

  14. Unknown User (tmchurchill)

    It appears that continuing to rely on Microsoft is an option that everyone would really like to avoid. As such, it seems that moving the students back to our onsite employee host is the only option that is being officially considered. I am aware that the Google option has been dismissed (and I do appreciate that an explanation was given), however from an outsider perspective it really is appealing. Based simply on the explanations and information provided in this thread (including the counter argument), the Gmail option appears to me to have the strongest argument and lots of support. The biggest drawback I saw was a vague concern about cost. What we would gain is a solution to not wanting to work with Microsoft as well as avoiding most of the cons listed in Option 1. I also think some of the retraining complications might be mitigated by the fact that people would actually be excited about the option (see Jud's comment about the value of user perception).

     

  15. swc AUTHOR

    Google will be happy to know they have a very loyal following.  

    Jud, we are always thinking about integration options.  Integration is always the most difficult part to implement and maintain. 

    Jon, the idea of getting rid of providing student email and letting them procure it on their own...  This is not a new idea, in fact we used to have a hybrid model where students could elect to have either a NPU account, or a Google/Yahoo/MSN account.  We ran into issues with this.  Relaying email offsite to a students personal account constantly put us on black lists, and kill our mail reputation.   Mail tended to not get delivered (or so people were fond of claiming).  This annoyed everyone, as there was no definitive way to ensure that delivery had been made.  SPAM filters intercepted a lot of NPU email.  And while the students might think that was appropriate (smile) the senders tended to not be amused...  Many students did not care to have NPU send them email, so they would not set up an email account or forwarding.  (I know they do not read much of the email that we send to Vikings, but at least it is not lost).

    Accounts in many systems require an email address before they can be set up.  In the past we gave students who had not provided an real email address a bogus address of HASNOEMAILDEFINED@NPU.EDU.  The faculty did not like this either, they wanted their email delivered.  The main issue is that the students do not really view getting email from NPU as a priority, while NPU does view it as a priority.  With providing students a NPU mailbox, we can at least send mail to somewhere it will get delivered, and stored until the student decides to look at it.  There are some legal issues with Financial Aid communications that require us to be able to ensure desirability.  So, I think we need to continue providing mailboxes for the moment.

    Tracy, students would make the transition to Google fairly easily.  Faculty & staff utilize email to a greater extent than most students.  The change from the local Outlook client to a web based Gmail client would be significant.  Power users will be very displeased with the Gmail client vs the Outlook client.  An integration to Google from the IT side would take a lot of research, and would require myself to learn a new API.  This was not high on my list of summer projects.

    Tracy, I am not just against working with Microsoft.  Experience has shown that all large companies are difficult to deal with. When things work, life is good.  When they don't, trying to get to someone knowledgeable can take days, even weeks.  Front line tech support for all of these larger orgs is terrible.

    Internal discussions and research are ongoing, but (as of today) I guess we are leaning toward moving the students to O365.  We cannot internally provide all of the services and scalability that MS can provide.  Migrating to O365 will involve more pain on the part of Information Technology, but what else is new (smile)  There are still outstanding technical issues that cause us concern.  Hopefully in the next week or so we will get the answers.

     

     

    1. Unknown User (tmchurchill)

      Thanks, I really appreciate the explanations.

  16. swc AUTHOR

    Here is some info on O365.  By early next week, we may be able to let people in to poke around...  If you are into conferencing, Lync is nice.

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/academic/

  17. Unknown User (jrienstra-kiracofe)

    I had (temporarily) given up arguing on gmail.  (smile)  But, I don't understand: "Power users will be very displeased with the Gmail client vs the Outlook client".  Since Feb 22, 2010 I have set a rule in outlook to have all my e-mail redirected to my gmail account.  (BTW, Outlook still cannot properly redirect an html e-mail.)  Despite this, in the last three years I have had 18,925 e-mails redirected to my gmail address.  I don't know what qualifies me as a power user, but I bet I'm close.  Having used both the outlook client and the gmail client, I simply cannot imagine using the outlook client to process those 18,925 e-mails.  In my mind, long live gmail and I hope my ability to redirect from outlook never dies!  (smile)

  18. Unknown User (jlin)

    Hi all,

    Jon R-K let me know about this discussion and I thought I'd add my $0.02.

    I agree with Steve in preferring Option 1 (bring all email in-house).  I don't think the O365 features (many of which are available elsewhere, as was noted) are worth the extra cost in set-up and maintenance and, in particular, loss of control.  I also agree with the earlier comment that suggests now is not the time to become even more deeply tied-in to the Microsoft ecosystem (the core Microsoft business model is in real trouble).

    Email is an incredibly old and elementary protocol.  Of all network-related technologies and features, it is the most amenable (I think) to separating server functions from client functions and for customizing one's use of email to match your personal preferences.  Thus, if you control your own email services, you can support a broad array of user functions with little extra effort on your part; clients who want certain features can get those features by using their preferred client (or by forwarding).  Giving up user freedom and organizational control (which means unresponsive customer service, API limitations, etc.) for Skype access, better disaster recovery (for which, now, there are myriad alternatives), etc., in my opinion, isn't a good trade-off.

    -Johnny

    1. Hello Professor, et al-

      I agree that we should bring our email services all under one roof, but I'm worried about bringing them all under our roof. There were reasons we outsourced student email in the first place.

      And I don't believe that outsourcing our email services gives up our freedom or organizational control. On the contrary, I believe that it frees up our infrastructure/applications to focus on more progressive and important technology.

      I think that Google Apps for Education is a superior email service can provide reliable service to students, staff, and faculty. I agree that email is an elementary element to our IT on campus, but it's one that we rely on. Google Apps for Education could provide progressive changes to other areas of North Park's IT as well. Calendaring, obviously, comes standard, but also collaborative groups and document sharing as well as cloud storage and messaging. I like the look of these services more than Microsoft's (especially regarding document versioning).

      There are benefits to staying with a Microsoft solution, but I don't know if those concerns outweigh the potential benefits of another solution. Steve and others have raised real concerns about making a switch like this and we need to address those concerns.

      In short:

      1. I believe that unifying our email services is advantageous.
      2. I believe that IT moved away from local hosting (for student) a few years back because the maintenance was burdensome.
      3. I believe that a Google solution offers alternatives to some aging systems (z-drives, department drives)
      4. Google Apps for Education offers more than just email at one cost
      5. It frees up campus infrastructure and IT staff to focus on other areas (Lecture Capture, Online Course Management Systems, WiFi, Data Management for admission care and retention of students, etc).

      We may have to encourage departments to think out of the box for some solutions.

      1. Unknown User (jlin)

        Hi James and all,

        Thanks for the reply!  I think regarding freedom and control, what I mean is whether one uses a Google or Microsoft solution, one is using Software as a Service (SaaS).  Almost by definition, you are giving up control to the vendor because you are now using a service they provide; you have limited ability to customize or configure and you are limited to the API they provide.  One can argue that by outsourcing that maintenance to the vendor you are freeing your own resources to address other isuses, and thus are gaining more control of your operations, but for the service you have outsourced, you are ceding control.

        Regarding moving to Live.edu in the first place, my impression was that this was done because of the value-added of larger mailboxes, etc. and that it was free.  I didn't realize maintenance was an significant issue. Based on Steve's comments about each of the options, it seemed maintenance would be a minimal consideration if student email became local; maintenance costs between the various options, it also seems to me based on Steve's comments, also favor bringing email back locally.

        -Johnny

  19. Unknown User (alodree)

    Hello All-

    I want to first thank Steve for establishing this forum for everyone to share their ideas. I must say I think Option 2a may be the best option for us. I believe Google is very attractive because of its stability & reputation of providing proven email services, which Microsoft has recently just started offering, for years. However, there's no real difference between Google & Microsoft. I believe that uprooting our email services may come with some unrealized disadvantages that may stretch our IT staff or cause us to rely heavily on outside consultants which increases costs for basically the same service/product. If we couple this with the fact that we are still in the process of developing & establishing the technology structure for the new building I just don't think this would be the best decision for us now.

    As suggested by our wonderful faculty, I did contact other educational institutions to see what they are doing. I reached out to the IT department at Tiffin University in Ohio who utilizes Google for their email services. They seemed very happy with Google email services & stated that Google does have tools that integrate email into Outlook. However, when they made the transfer to Google they were using Novell eDirectory & Novell Groupwise so they couldn't really speak to the migration with Active Directory. I also spoke with Dominican University & they are in the current situation we are in & have decided to go with Office 365, instead of Google. The Associate Director stated that he had used Google email services previously & felt that the services were basically the same as Office 365. He didn't feel that it was logical to incur so much costs in moving services only to get basically the same services. He also was planning to use Lync & Sharepoint in the future. However, he did warn us that there have been some continuous changes with the process. Microsoft has also began to control the migration process. At first, you were able to do it with a click of a button. Now Microsoft is setting dates for when the migration can take place.

    Let me be honest, initially I was adamant about switching to Google & was planning to send my resume to Meyer, James & Unknown User (jrienstra-kiracofe) to join their sales team. (smile) Yet when we look at the bigger picture its much more advantageous for us to move to Office 365 because of less cost & less stress on our IT staff during campus expansions. So swc is there an opening on your sales team. (smile)

    Your Most Humble Servant,

    Andre

     

  20. Unknown User (jsanders)

    With Google being an open/public platform, would we need to worry about advertisements infiltrating our user experience?  From this article, "Ads in Gmail" (http://support.google.com/mail/answer/6603?hl=en), Google is "always looking for more ways to deliver you the most useful and relevant ads - for example, we may use your Google search queries on the Web, the sites you visit, Google Profile, +1’s and other Google Account information to show you more relevant ads in Gmail."  The disclaimer is that "no human" will read your email. This, to me, seems like an invasion of privacy.

    I am still looking to see if O365 would do the same thing (I have not found this yet), but what may be a game changer is the issue of privacy.  We all like the idea of having the accessibility of google and its apps.  However, human or not, there will be a constant connection to some advertisement engine with the primary purpose of selling stuff to us.  This concept could make a lot of people uncomfortable. 

    Within the recent developments of this conversation, how important is privacy?

    1. Unknown User (jlin)

      I think Jokya's question is a very good one.  Even if ads can be disabled, if the Google/Microsoft terms of service permit capture, storage, and analysis of North Park's email traffic, to some that may be a ceding of privacy that they would prefer not to make.  When each of us individually sign-on to use Gmail, we make that decision for ourselves, but if the University chooses to use an SaaS provider that has a terms of service that grants the email provider a lot of rights, then, in some way, we've partly made the ceding of privacy decision on behalf of our students.  I'm not one to think that this, automatically, is improper or should be a deal breaker, but it is something to consider.

      1. Unknown User (jsanders)

        Hey Jim,

        Thanks for the link.  Here are some thoughts:

        To me "disabling" and "hiding" are two different things.  Disable means to make something non-functional.  Therefore, disabling the ability for Google to read for ads should mean that there is no connection between my search and advertisments.  Hiding suggests that a relationship exists between pertinent parameters (seemingly unknown) ensue the potential for information to be transferred to a destination other than intended email addresses.  In other words, if advertisments are being hidden, this does not mean that your privacy is not being infringed upon.  In actuality, your privacy may be infringed upon without you knowing it.  So, looking at Jonny Lin's remark, what is there to say about an edcuational institution's view of privacy within email? 

        Speaking of which, here is a funny video that is relevant:

  21. It appears as if the best solution might be to migrate the students from LIVE to O365 and leave employee email where it is for now.  We can perhaps investigate different options over the next year or so. 

  22. swc AUTHOR

    Final Answer:

    We will bring the students email back in house.  We will host them on our internal Exchange server.  I have been fighting with getting O365 set up properly, and it does not want to cooperate. The process has already begun to remind me of my adventures with Live.edu in previous years.  These are not fond memories.  We will migrate the student email back to our server in mid June.  All existing email will be migrated to our internal server, and then their Vikings mailbox will be deleted.  Students will need to move any Skydrive documents out of their Vikings accounts, as their Skydrive account will be deleted sometime in Aug.

    Over the next year or so, we can evaluate the best path forward for email and collaboration. This will give all the Google fans plenty of time to make their case (sad)

    1. Unknown User (jrienstra-kiracofe)

      Sounds like a good plan and probably the best solution.  Steve, thank you for opening this conversation and allowing us to contribute!  Thanks for your good work!

    2. Unknown User (jcurry)

      Okey-doke. Thus spake Steve.

      What is the plan for communicating this change, and the consequences of the change, to students?  I'd recommend that this be publicized widely and aggressively through as many channels as possible.  I'd begin with all campus staff and faculty who deal with students "on the ground."  I'd invite campus government into the discussion (CLASS).  If another issue of the North Park Press is yet to come before the end of the term, I'd contact them.  I'd dust off the old button-maker and start handing out buttons with catchy "email is changing slogans."  I'd distribute t-shirts.  I'd require that all spring final exams include a question regarding the impending email change.  I'd chalk the sidewalks.

      More seriously, all publicity should include some well worded explanation of WHY this is happening, and how this will benefit students, as well as a detailed guide for what students can do to make the transition painless.  Returning to my point in an earlier comment, perception matters, and this may be perceived as a loss or an arbitrary change if we do not work to present it as ultimately for the benefit of the students.

      Will alums who have maintained the Vikings email or skydrive lose this access?  Do they need to be contacted in any sort of way?  (And if they are not losing this access, then why would current students lose their skydrive access?)

      The decision is made; now the work begins.

      Thanks,

      Jud

      1. Unknown User (jrienstra-kiracofe)

        Good points on communication of the change, Jud.  I too wonder about alums and their vikings account.  

    3. Unknown User (jcurry)

      Hi, Steve –

      What is the timeline on this?  You mention mid-June, which is right in the middle of the summer A quad for SAL and SBNM (May 13-July1)... and in the middle of the traditional summer program June term.  It would be really helpful to know precise information for how this will happen.  I assume that there will be a period during which students have both email accounts active... at least I hope so.  Will the student email addresses revert to the @northpark.edu domain?  (Is "domain" the word I want there...?)

      The more lead time and preparation we can give students (and staff, faculty, and instructors!) on this, the better... or else we face significant panic... especially with the week-long shutdown of Moodle coming hard on the heels of this email change.  I'd love to have a detailed breakdown of the process, with information on what students, faculty, and staff should be doing at each step of the way.

      Thanks,

      Jud

      1. swc AUTHOR

        I would like to provide you with those answers.  However, I do not have them yet.  We are still waiting on some information from Microsoft.

        Faculty & staff should not notice any changes when sending to Vikings addresses.

        If students use the web interface, the experience should be the same.  Vikings & Northpark are on the same version of Microsoft Exchange, and use the same web client.  My limited understanding at the moment is that either @northpark.edu or @vikings.northpark.edu will work both as an email address and as a login (from the web).  We have not tested the login experience from mobile devices yet.  

        This will be a summer for lots of changes.  Deep Breaths, we will get through it. (smile)  

        .

  23. swc AUTHOR

    Most alums do not use their Vikings accounts for longer than a year.  For ones that are still active on Vikings, we will bring them back in house also.  We will not offer lifetime email for future grads.  We will give them some time, and if they wish to keep it longer, they can request to do so.  

    Skydrive/Google Drive/Dropbox, etc. are available to everyone for free.  So "loosing access" to skydrive merely would mean they would have to create a new account without using @vikings.northpark.edu and move their files.  We are eliminating their access to @vikings.northpark.edu cloud accounts as we felt it would be confusing to them to have two Vikings logins, and we feel that very few students use skydrive.  We never really advertised it, and it only became useful in the last six months or so.

    Maybe those who are more connected to students could ask them if they use Skydrive.  We can bring their email back onsite without eliminating Skydrive.

  24. Unknown User (jlin)

    I was wondering...even if we don't offer lifetime email for alumni, why don't we at least offer a lifetime email forwarding account for graduates?  It seems to me to be pretty cheap way of encouraging continued connection with the University.

    1. swc AUTHOR

      Too much trouble for too little gain.  Re-directing email off campus is a generally bad idea.  If any SPAM gets through our filters and goes back out, we get blamed.  Also, we would need to either keep Alumni AD accounts active, or allow them to be re-created.  Otherwise, we have no way of securing the forwarding system.

      1. Unknown User (jcurry)

        Steve – Given that these changes will affect even a few alumni, I assume that you've talked with folks in alumni/development about what's coming, right?  If I were in the alumni office, I'd want to know....

        Jud

    1. More Google vs O365.  Interesting tidbits throughout each article:

      Google Apps To Office 365: Why To Switch - InformationWeek, 05/07/2013
      http://www.informationweek.com/software/enterprise-applications/google-apps-to-office-365-why-to-switch/240154193 
         (the reader comments below the article are also interesting)
      Boston dumps Microsoft Exchange for Google Apps - NetworkWorld, 05/10/2013

  25. Steve, If we were to transition to either O365 or Google in the future, would we be able to cut back on any of our annual Microsoft licensing?  Could we scale back from the Enterprise CAL to the Standard CAL?

    1. swc AUTHOR

      I don't thing so, but MS has made lots of changes.  Our renewal is due soon, so I will have to figure it out.

    1. Important to remember that the consumer "SkyDrive" is not the same as the O365 "SkyDrive Pro", and the "Pro" version has fewer features and less compatibility than the consumer version, at least for now.

  26. Unknown User (jsanders)

     

    according to this blog, has the migration happened yet???