Next month the College of William and Mary will replace its current Mirapoint e-mail system with Gmail.
The new Google Apps Education Edition system will increase mailbox storage space from 50 megabytes to 7.3 gigabytes, offer spam and virus protection and make all accounts ad-free.
The system will also include an array of applications such as Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Talk and Video.
“The biggest benefit is that Google offers a suite of apps, including e-mail, in an attractive format that students have embraced already with many personal Gmail accounts,” Director of Systems and Support Chris Ward said.
The College stopped deleting e-mail accounts for graduated students several years ago, and as a result the number of accounts grew from 8,000 to the current 15,000.
Ward said one of the downsides to maintaining the current five-year-old system is the cost of keeping e-mail accounts active after graduation.
The College decided to switch to Google primarily because of the strain on the Mirapoint e-mail system, which became an issue of concern around the same time Google and Microsoft started offering free e-mail-hosting services for educational institutions.
The current e-mail server includes students, faculty and staff. Under the new system, students will use Google.
Members of the faculty and staff, however, will use Microsoft Exchange because the administration believes College business e-mails need to stay on campus servers.
“Both companies were able to offer larger e-mail quotas and other features that we couldn’t match, and they were offering it for free,” Ward said.
After a number of other universities began to utilize other e-mail services with positive results, the College formed an evaluation committee to choose the new provider. The committee included four students, three
Information Technology staff members and Chief Information Officer Courtney Carpenter.
Both Microsoft and Google had features tailored to students, but the committee ultimately decided that Google was a better fit.
“Once available, we’ll explain to students how to move any mail in their existing mailbox that they want to the new e-mail,” Ward said. “Students will start using the new e-mail exclusively, and eventually the old mailboxes will be deleted.”
The Student Assembly also supports the switch to Google.
“Given Google’s easy-to-use applications, like video and chat and calendar, and their ability to offer home pages and easy-to-use website templates for campus organizations, it just looked like the way to go,” SA Student Life Committee Chair Betty Jeanne Manning ’12 said.
IT expects to have detailed information regarding the process of switching over available March 1. The switch is planned for March 22. The transition for faculty members will occur at a later date.