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Monday, April 28, 2014 - 9:25am

More than 13,000 first-, second-, and third-year University of Iowa students are already using Microsoft Office 365 for email. In late May, non-graduating fourth-year students will join, gaining access to larger mailboxes and a full portfolio of communication and collaboration tools.

With Office 365, students receive 50 GB e-mail boxes (compared to 1 GB today). They can also access software that’s part of the Office suite (Excel, Power Point, Word, and OneNote) and connect with others through instant messaging, video conferencing, and online meetings.

Information Technology Services will migrate fourth-year students to Office 365 between May 27 and May 30, 2014. All included students will be notified directly via email. Once students are migrated to 365, they will be able to check email (and much more) and connect mobile devices by visiting the Office 365 login page.

ITS began transitioning the student population to Office 365 in August 2013 and has been moving students in waves based on their year in school. Students are also being moved from Hawkmail to 365 upon request, and many have contacted the Help Desk to switch earlier than scheduled because they were eager to use the new tools and have access to the larger mailboxes.

Moving email to the cloud is a major trend in both higher education and corporate business as companies such as Google and Microsoft are now offering high-quality email services to universities. Microsoft has over 20 million users of their cloud services in education alone, and several other schools, such as Nebraska, Duke, and Ohio State have moved or are in the process of moving to 365.

ITS conducted an extensive analysis and comparison of vendors, finding that the Office 365 solution integrates much better with the UI’s existing Microsoft Exchange infrastructure. Security and privacy are a chief concern, and the UI worked with several other institutions to negotiate strong contractual agreements with Microsoft, including a Business Associates Agreement that covers HIPAA data.

Office 365 is initially targeted for students. Faculty and staff represent more complexity because of the kinds of information they communicate using email. ITS will work through those details to see if it’s appropriate to move faculty/staff, and will evaluate the performance of the service for students. Find more information about Office 365.