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Oct. 27, 2011 Volume 33, No. 10

Future email upgrade to expand mailbox, join campuses


Quota to jump from 2GB to 15GB

Throughout the day, emails drop in and out of faculty and staff mailboxes via desktop computers, laptops, smart phones and tablets, making sure to keep employees in touch with one another and on top of their jobs. But how much thought is put into emails that drop into the inbox?

Employees at the Division of IT and those at the MU Telecom building, which has been dubbed the “heart of campus” by Jason Lockwood, manager of messaging services, do their best to make sure those emails and the entire system run smoothly. And in the coming weeks, a large overhaul of the email system will bring massive changes to improve messaging.

The University of Missouri campus email system will be migrating to the Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 for email, which will encompass every statewide UM campus. It will be the first time every campus will be on the same exchange server email — something Lockwood says is a change in the right direction.

It will also bring some significant storage space for users.

Currently, the quota for mailbox storage is 2 gigabytes, but with the move to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, there will be 15 gigabytes. This also has positive implications for pulling up email during travel.

“(Faculty and staff will) have the ability to host all their data on the exchange server,” Lockwood explained. “And what that means to the average user is when they have a mobile device, whether that is a laptop, phone or tablet of some sort is that they have the opportunity — depending on how they configure their mail — is to have all their saved emails with them at all times. They could be anywhere in the world with Internet connection and they are going to be able to access any messages that they choose to store on the exchange server.”

Because the new email server will be migrating all campuses together, it also gives the university greater redundancy and disaster recovery control, Lockwood, said. All of the university data is hosted in the Telecom building, but there will be backups at other campuses.

Terry Robb, director of division of IT for strategic planning, project management and marketing, said the Kansas City campus joined the MU campus email server exchange last year. After the new migration is completed to Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, Rolla and St. Louis will be brought into the fold. Prior to the migration, each campus had its own exchange system.

Currently, the Divisions of IT email accounts are being moved to the new exchange. All IT professionals will be moved over to the server starting Monday, Oct. 31.

“Operationally, for faculty and staff, there is nothing specific they need to do to prepare for the change to 2010 aside from working with their IT pros,” Lockwood said. “We should be able to communicate with (the IT pros) the changes that are coming up. With that said, backing up your data is recommended whether it has to do with an exchange to 2010 or just day-to-day operations. Just back up.”

After the Division of IT and IT pros are moved over to the new exchange system, eyes will turn to different MU departments, working with academic schedules and personal preferences, Lockwood said. He added it could take a few weeks or up to two months to complete the entire migration. Robb said the exchange might also go alphabetically. Any communication will most likely be issued through individual department IT professionals.

Lockwood said that while the expanded quotas and disaster recovery elements are benefits of the upgrade, the greatest strength may be running under one unified messaging platform for all four UM campuses. 

“I think there’s strength to that, which we haven’t had in the past … because all the campuses have their different personalities and missions; we’re all in higher-ed but everybody has their own emphasis. And the trick with 2010, and the most challenging part, is making sure 2010 can service all those unique needs of our campus partners while benefiting from the scale of having one email system.”