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MSU Entomology Researchers Implement Dedicated Messaging Platform

The Applied Spatial Ecology and Technical Services (ASETS) Laboratory at Michigan State University's Department of Entomology has implemented a messaging platform to provide dedicated e-mail addresses, distribution lists and instant messaging for researchers.

The lab needed a messaging platform to enable researchers to communicate with each other and the larger research community, as well as to support outreach programs. The university's IT infrastructure was already maxed out, so ASETS researchers decided to look for their own, dedicated solution. They needed something that would be reliable and easy to manage and maintain. After considering its options, including Microsoft Exchange, the team settled on IceWarp Messaging Server.

The server currently supports 50 users, as well as multiple research and outreach projects. "We use the core system for numerous projects," said Amos Ziegler, director of the ASETS lab, in a prepared statement. "Most of these involve management of invasive species — forest pests such as gypsy moth and emerald ash borer, for example. We also have citizen scientist projects. All of these are public-facing and data-intensive; involve data collection through Web sites and mobile applications. They require dedicated accounts and full Web infrastructure."

Ziegler and his team created a Web portal with dedicated messaging resources for each project, as well as numerous e-mail distribution lists and listservs. "I like the freedom and the ability to create accounts at will," said Ziegler. "With IceWarp on-premise it doesn't require a phone call, e-mail or waiting. That's the value of having my own mail server."

IceWarp has reduced the lab's dependence on Microsoft applications, such as Microsoft Outlook. Researchers now use IceWarp's Web interface or e-mail clients such as Mozilla Thunderbird for e-mail. They also use IceWarp's built-in Instant Messaging Module as an alternative to Microsoft Lync.

According to Ziegler, IceWarp is easy to set up and maintain, and it has met the lab's messaging needs without requiring dedicated IT support.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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