The university has entered into an agreement with the Microsoft Corp. to migrate its email and calendaring to a new cloud-based system to better meet the needs of its faculty, staff and administrators and reduce annual costs by as much as 50 percent. The decision, made following months of task-force review and an RFP process, was announced June 27 by NU President James B. Milliken.
Over the next 12 to 18 months, all NU campuses will migrate from the current Lotus Notes email system to the Microsoft system. The university will install an Office 365 cloud-based email system at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska at Kearney and University of Nebraska Central Administration, and Exchange 2010 at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (a premise-based version preferred because of HIPAA requirements). Most employees, including all currently using Lotus Notes, will not need to change their email address. Student migration will depend on existing agreements.
Milliken said the agreement with Microsoft is a very positive development for the university that is supported by all the campus chancellors, chief information officers and others. Many leading universities, including the majority of institutions in the Big Ten, have implemented Microsoft email systems.
“A robust, reliable, effective and secure email system is critical to the operation of the modern university,” Milliken said. “On a daily basis, our email system facilitates the conduct of official business with the Board of Regents, students, faculty, staff and administrators as well as various outside agencies, research facilities and countless stakeholder groups and citizens. It is vital that we have an email system in place that allows us to perform these duties in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible. The Microsoft system will help us accomplish this goal.”
The current Lotus Notes system was implemented in 1997. Milliken said he had been receiving an increasing number of requests in recent years to consider whether Lotus Notes was the best choice for the university. Last year, he appointed a university-wide task force to examine, among other issues, whether the Lotus Notes system met the needs and requirements of faculty, staff and administrators and, if not, to recommend appropriate changes. The task force was chaired by John Ballard, professor emeritus in the College of Engineering at UNL.
"I am very pleased that we are migrating our email system," UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said. "This move not only brings our email platform to one that is based on current technology and provide a more robust and user-friendly email system, but it will save the campus and the university system money. I believe it will also position us to move to a single, universal email system for all UNL users. This also now puts the faculty, staff and administration on the same system as our students."
The task force, following a formal Request for Proposals process, recommended that the university assess migrating to a less costly and more advanced email environment. Milliken reviewed the task force’s recommendation with the chancellors, who unanimously endorsed the recommended strategy.
“The Microsoft system will provide our faculty and staff with a superior web-based interface and better capabilities,” said Walter Weir, chief information officer for the NU system. “We believe that moving to the cloud environment is the best way to leverage current technology and achieve greater cost savings and better security for our system.”
Campus technical teams will work together to build the required back-end infrastructure to support the email migration and deployment. A new page on the university’s website, http://www.nebraska.edu/email, is available and will be updated frequently with status updates, common questions and answers, tutorials and other information. In addition, employee updates and forums will be held on each campus.
- Melissa Lee, NU Central Administration
More details at: http://go.unl.edu/t9u