28 November 2006

Centralisation of email

The University is moving forward on the planned centralisation of email and integrating a new campus-wide calendaring environment.

A (rather large) working group has been established to organise the migration of email and calendar services to a central email, calendaring, address list and document sharing system under ICT Services. The University Information Management Systems Committee (UIMSC) recently accepted the recommendations of a report compiled by Acumen Alliance to establish a central collaborative system based on Microsoft’s Exchange and Sharepoint services.

Debate is currently centred around the choice of version for the Exchange Server environment: the current version, Exchange 2003, is in use in BLIS and COMEDU, but Microsoft is due to release Exchange 2007 Real Soon Now. 2007 would be a preferred environment based on the expected functionality it would bring, but experience has shown that it is reasonable to expect some delays in the availability of a suitably stable version for enterprise use when such a major release is made available.

The expectation is that email will be operating centrally by the end of the first quarter of 2007 (31 March 2007). Should an enterprise-ready version of Exchange 2007 be available from Microsoft in time for a thoroughly-tested service to be deployed by that time, then the email should be hosted by ICT Services then.

Currently the University has available to it a centrally-provided electronic calendar (Oracle Calendar). BLIS users also have a calendar in Exchange 2003 (as do COMEDU users), but in order to manage appointments and meetings across Divisions, the Oracle Calendar needs to be used. Exchange has an integrated calendar that will replace Oracle Calendar. Migration strategy, roll-out plans and a timetable for Exchange Calendar are yet to be determined.

Once email and calendar functions are operating, document sharing using Sharepoint will be implemented. Again no plans or a timetable are in place for the implementation of Sharepoint. In the meantime document sharing is being managed by the Divisions and ICT Services on an ‘at-need’ basis.