College considers switching to Gmail

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April 8, 2008

3:10 AM

Following intermittent e-mail outages last week, the College is considering switching its e-mail service.

“We are certainly looking at the new student e-mail offerings from Google as well as Microsoft,” Chief Information Officer Courtney Carpenter said.

E-mail accounts would retain the “wm.edu” prefix, even though the Gmail or Microsoft interface would be used. Both services would come at no charge to the College and would not come with ads.

Storage capacity would be 100 times greater under the new services. Although the details are still being negotiated, both services are currently offering five gigabytes of e-mail storage and five gigabytes of document storage.

Carpenter believes the recent instability with WebMail would also be a thing of the past.

“[Both services] should be very fast and reliable, as these companies have large infrastructures with redundant data centers.”

Carpenter said that other student concerns, such as privacy, would be addressed, and specific guidelines would be delineated in any possible contracts.

However, Carpenter said that things are just getting started, and that the College has not set any target dates. One of the first goals is to start a conversation with the student body. According to Carpenter, an early adoption of a new system could occur if students show a strong interest.

Other universities have already adopted these services. Arizona State University announced in Oct. 2007 that it will be collaborating with Google to provide Gmail and other services to its 65,000 students.

With the package, called Google Apps for Education, students can access Gmail, chat within their browser, use an online calendar and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets using Google Docs.

Other schools that utilize Google Apps include Northwestern University, Utah State University and Hofstra University.

The second service that the College is considering is Microsoft [email protected], which provides a very similar offering as Google. This would include Windows Hotmail service as well as Microsoft Office Live Workspace, which would allow students to save, access and collaborate on documents and files online.

Schools that have implemented Microsoft [email protected] include University of Pennsylvania, University of Missouri, University of Illinos at Urbana-Champaign and Ball State University.

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