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Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 8:46am

More than 5,000 first-year students have been using Microsoft Office 365 for e-mail since the beginning of fall semester, and second-year students will make the switch—which means larger mailboxes and a full portfolio of communication and collaboration tools—during winter break.

With Office 365, students receive 25 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 second-year students to 365 between Dec. 30, 2013 and Jan.17, 2014. All included students have been notified directly via email and will receive a reminder during fall finals week. Once students are migrated to 365, they will be able to check email (and much more) and connect mobile devices from the Office 365 login page.

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.