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OIT begins switch to Google mail

Becky Hogan | Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Notre Dame’s Office of Information Technologies has teamed up with Student Government to provide current students with a new e-mail system though Google Apps.

“We are hoping the system will be up and ready for students to migrate in the middle of the summer, so we can e-mail students and get them to migrate their accounts before they get back this fall,” said Katie Rose, project manager of the OIT’s latest initiative.

Graduating students will also be allowed to migrate to the new system and OIT will eventually open Google Apps at Notre Dame to all alumni. Rose said that the timeline for allowing alumni to use the service is uncertain at this point.

“Right now we are working to create incoming first year student accounts within the Google system, and after we are done with that, we will be working to integrate existing accounts into the new system,” Rose said.

According to Rose there is currently a team of about seven OIT professionals who are working to implement the new e-mail system.

“We know that students have not been satisfied with the existing system and have been asking for systems more like Google,” Rose said. “Student Government has been voicing the same concerns.”

Rose said that changing to a new e-mail system has been a topic of discussion for some time since the current e-mail provider’s plans to discontinue the current system by Dec. 1, 2008

“A lot of other schools have been migrating to outsourced systems like Google and Microsoft, so we felt like now was the time to do this,” Rose said.

According to Rose, Google Apps is provided to educational institutions free of charge, and even though the new service will be provided though Google, it is still a Notre Dame service.

“The new system will use the Gmail interface that many students are familiar with, however students will still be using the nd.edu address,” she said.

The new system offers several improvements to the old Webmail system, Rose said.

Students will have a much larger e-mail quota as the current system has 100 MG quota, and the new system will have a quota of 6.5 GB.

Additionally, students will be able to take advantage of some new features that the Google Apps system includes.

“There will also be a variety of other services [including] a calendar system and Google documents,” Rose said. “This will allow students to create Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations and share them with other students. They can collaborate and edit these documents online at the same time.”

The new system will also include a chat utility, similar to AOL Instant Messenger or MSN Instant Messenger, and a portal page that students can customize to meet their own needs, Rose said.

While all student e-mail accounts will be migrating to the Google Apps system, University faculty and staff e-mail accounts will be changing over to Microsoft Exchange.

“Faculty and staff will be migrating to a different system – Microsoft Exchange for e-mail and calendaring and we will be starting that over the fall semester,” Rose said.

Rose said that the University wants to see how students feel about the change to Google Apps before they make a decision about allowing faculty and staff to use it.

Student body president Bob Reish said that working with OIT is a priority of the current administration – and Google Apps at Notre Dame is its first initiative.

“Student Government will be working to get students aware of the benefits and features [Google Apps at Notre Dame] offers. It’s not just an e-mail provider-it’s definitely different from Webmail,” Reish said.

Reish said that a new Student Senate committee called the Campus Technologies Committee will help spread awareness about the new e-mail system.

“We will be working on getting feedback from students on the migrating process as well as implementing an awareness campaign to get students to start using the new system,” he said.

OIT will send students an e-mail this summer informing them of the new e-mail system and instructions about changing over to the new system.