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Saint Mary’s to install new e-mail system

Liz Harter | Thursday, October 26, 2006

Inbox warnings of overflowing e-mail accounts may be a thing of the past at Saint Mary’s next semester as the College prepares to install a new messaging system during winter break, Chief Information Officer Keith Fowlkes said.

The current e-mail system – iPlanet Messaging, known on campus as Aegis and developed by Sun Microsystems – has been “showing its age” in the past few months, Fowlkes said.

The new Zimbra Collaboration Server boasts “all new software, hardware and [has a] greater quota capacity for our users,” Fowlkes said. It will include e-mail, a calendar system and shared wikis.

The Saint Mary’s Web site defines wikis as the ability to use a Web site to collaborate on a document.

Freshman Kate McKenna said she doesn’t know what these wikis would be used for, but hopes it’s not class projects. Doing that, she said, would eliminate a level of social interaction between students, which is how she said she met many of her friends.

“Everything is getting so high tech nowadays,” she said. “I think if people really started to do group work [through the wikis on this new system] it would be a benefit, but [it] also would take away from the important parts of working in a group.”

While Aegis has been a good Webmail system, it does not have the expandability the College needed, Fowlkes said.

“We are looking at keeping both systems up until everyone has gone through the conversion process, so, at this point, we are hoping for little downtime,” he said.

Sophomore Lauren Stepaniak said she’s looking forward to the new e-mail system, but is worried about the downtime.

“It will be somewhat annoying [if the e-mail system is] down over break because this is the only e-mail that I use,” Stepaniak said.

The changeover of personal e-mail accounts will be done through a simple link on the homepage, Fowlkes said.

“[Students] will have the same e-mail address [and] no mail or folders will be lost,” he said. “They will just be transferred to the new server during the move process.”

Despite the College’s effort to increase e-mail ease, not all students believe that the new system is necessary.

“I think that the current e-mail system is sufficient,” senior Breeana Gregory said. “One of [its] problems is that there is not enough memory, [but] if the memory was increased it would be good.”

McKenna said while the system has worked well during her first semester of college – “it’s easy to use” – she is aware of students not deleting e-mails and creating an overflow problem.