The migration of West Virginia University’s e-mail and calendaring system to Office 365 has begun, and will pick up speed in the coming weeks, with the initial conversions anticipated to be completed by early November.
“This is an important move for the University and will provide our staff and faculty with easy-to-use collaborative tools,” said John Campbell, chief information officer and associate provost. “Office 365 is also more mobile-friendly, which is a necessity today.”
Various small, targeted groups totaling several hundred accounts have already been migrated to Office 365, and those have gone smoothly and successfully, said Kristin Floyd, the Office of Information Technology project manager for the conversion.
“In all, more than 13,000 accounts will be moved from the current system to Office365 over the course of the next few months,” Floyd said. “Our experience in the initial conversions suggests things are going smoothly.”
Microsoft Office 365, which is replacing GroupWise, is a hosted suite of online collaborative services that offers Outlook e-mail and calendaring, instant messaging, group video and voice chat, document sharing and connectivity for mobile devices.
The first phase of the implementation will involve e-mail and calendar management using Outlook and Lync, an instant messaging and conferencing application. Once the entire campus is converted to these core elements, additional components such as Skydrive Pro cloud storage and Office web applications (e.g., Excel, Word) will be added.
In preparation for the switchover, email users have been asked to clean up email accounts, especially archives and files larger than 25 megabytes.
Migrations to Office 365 will occur by department so all users in one area will move simultaneously. However systems have been put in place to maintain communication links between the new and old systems until the entire campus has been converted, Floyd said.
The specific schedule of which department will move when is still being finalized, but generally will begin on Sept. 6, with various groups being migrated every week through early November.
Two weeks before an account is scheduled to be migrated, affected users will be notified and reminded to take the necessary steps to prepare their accounts. Those instructions are available here on the Office 365 website. Another reminder will be sent a few days ahead of the conversion.
“There will be some noticeable differences in the systems, such as the way ‘resource accounts,’ sharing and voicemail delivery are handled,” she said. Also, extensive training will be provided for those who manage multiple calendars. It’s also important to note that once the conversion occurs, GroupWise will no longer be available.
There will be multiple options for using the system; dedicated clients for both Macs and PCs function almost exactly the same with only a few, minor differences, she said.
“But the web client is really good, and people may find they want to use that instead,” she said.
The process to choose a new email system began in 2011 and involved a campus-wide committee to develop requirements for both student and administrative systems. Student email was successfully migrated to Gmail last September.
Benefits of Microsoft Office 365 include:
- Increased account size.
- All the required functionality. Office 365 Web App is a fully-featured environment that offers increased support and functionality for Macintosh users. This system also offers simplified configuration for mobile devices to use WVU email, calendar and contacts.
- Expanded instant messaging and conferencing capabilities. Chat one-on-one or in a group, share applications for collaboration, virtual white boards and more.
- Elimination of archive complications. Archives will be stored in one place accessible from anywhere on the Internet.
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