22 July 2003

Campus email

Update on campus-wide email and collaborative services.

VCAC Resolution No. VCAC 2002/16/02 endorsed the concept of an enterprise e-mail system for the University. Deputy directors and IT managers of the academic divisions have asked the Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor to endorse the use of Microsoft Exchange as an interim standard server for email for staff across the campus until a thorough review of collaborative services (email, calendaring, discussion and announcement lists, chat, document sharing and like services) can be undertaken and recommendations made for a University-wide, open standards based, collaborative services solution.

The good news for the Division is that Exchange is the system we have implemented here. Not so good news for some people, such as those using Eudora, for example. To take full advantage of the services offered by Exchange, staff need to use Microsoft Outlook as their email client (Exchange is the server, or "back-end" software, Outlook is the user's client software: the application the user uses to access their email). Not all staff are happy with using Outlook, but although it has some shortcomings the use of Outlook (or Entourage on the Macintosh) throughout the Division will allow the Division to take greater advantage of the collaborative services offered by Exchange: particularly group calendaring. It also makes any future migration more manageable: unlike our recent move. Should the University endorse the proposal to use Exchange as an interim solution, Exchange will then replace the Netscape Calendar across campus as a means of organising meetings with colleagues, including those from other Divisions.

In the longer term, the goal is an open standards based approach which should allow users greater flexibility in the software they choose to use to access the various collaborative services, like email.