Storrs, Regional Campuses
Staff of University Information Technology Services are preparing to move most University employees onto a single e-mail and calendar system.
Beginning in late October, more than 7,500 users at every UConn campus, other than the Health Center, will be outfitted with the ability to use Microsoft Exchange 2000. Faculty and staff who currently use the central UITS Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange 5.5 will be the first to move to the new system, and should be operating on Microsoft Exchange 2000 by the end of the year.
It will take another eight to 10 months to complete installation of the new system campus-wide, says Kathie Sorrentino, who leads the six-person UITS team that is building the system.
She says Microsoft Exchange is easy to use: "It makes managing your mail easier. Scheduling meetings, locating addresses, and a number of other steps are much easier than some of the other systems now in use at UConn."
The calendar function for Microsoft Exchange 2000 will not differ markedly from the electronic calendars faculty and staff currently use, says Sorrentino. Users will still be able to schedule meetings both within departments and across campus, but the system will not include a University-wide calendar of events.
Sorrentino says having just one software for e-mail and electronic calendars will save the University money and other resources.
"The switch to a single e-mail and calendaring system is long overdue," she says. "There is a tremendous amount of duplication now. Every system - whether it's Lotus Notes, Exchange 5.5, Mercury Mail, Unix, or any of the others now being used - requires servers, equipment, back up, and other supplies. The move to a single system will consolidate everything into one site."
Randy Bell, UConn's interim vice chancellor for information services, says bringing the many and varied e-mail systems under one roof was among his first priorities when he arrived in Storrs in September 2002.
"This represents a significant investment, but it's something that needs to be done and put behind us," Bell says.
He notes that most major universities have already migrated to a single e-mail and calendar system, and are pleased with the outcome. He is convinced UConn will be, too.
"Microsoft Exchange 2000 is a primary industry standard, which is where the University needs to be. It integrates well with the Microsoft office suite, which is standard on campus, and it's a system that is easy to train people to use," Bell says.
"We also have a pretty good amount of e-mail systems on campus that use a Microsoft format, so those people should migrate to the new system easily."
Bell says having a single, centralized system, maintained and operated from UITS, also will free up what he estimates to be up to 20 people across campus working to keep local systems functioning, and enable them instead to focus on supporting the specialized information technology needs of particular administrative and academic departments.
Sorrentino says her team is currently developing directions to help people move onto the new system. Training on Exchange will be available as UITS moves closer to implementation, and Bell says there will be "specific SWAT teams" assigned to various units to help departments during the conversion.
Sorrentino notes that there will be a security infrastructure to support the system and protect against computer viruses, "worms," and spam mail.
Bell says UITS is absorbing the cost of the e-mail infrastructure hardware and software. Some departments will need to upgrade their desktop computers, however, to better take advantage of all the capabilities offered by Microsoft Exchange 2000.