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3 CSU Campuses Migrate E-Mail to the Cloud

Three of the more populous campuses in the massive California State University system are shifting their mail and document collaboration to a cloud-based solution for students, faculty, and alumni. They join several other universities that have recently gone public with their migration to Microsoft's [email protected] service.

Two of the three Cal State campuses--San Francisco State University and Cal Poly Pomona--have already made the move to [email protected] The third, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), is expected to begin the move this fall. Combined, the three Cal State campuses represent more than 80,000 current students. Services are also being extended to alumni in the cases of San Francisco State and Cal Poly Pomona.

[email protected] is Microsoft's free communication and collaboration suite for education. The service, which supports Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux systems, provides a range of hosted solutions for education institutions, including Office Web Apps; mail (with 10 GB inboxes for each user); Windows Live SkyDrive storage (25 GB per user); video chat; IM; alerts; blogs; and various collaboration and document sharing services.

Cal Poly Pomona had previously made [email protected] services available to alumni and is now offering it to its current students, which number more than 22,000. The decision followed an evaluation of [email protected] in comparison with Google's hosted service. The university cited several factors for the migration from its Exchange system to [email protected], including integration with existing systems, support for a wide range of file types, and [email protected]'s lack of advertising. According to information released by Microsoft, the university is expected to save 40 percent on costs of storage and 50 percent on costs of servers and hardware as a result of the move from an on-premises system to a hosted solution. The university's IT staff has made the results of its evaluation publicly available here.

San Francisco State has rolled out the service to its 30,000 current students, as well as more than 20,000 alumni. Among the reasons for the move, according to the university, were [email protected]'s accessibility features and ad-free environment.

"One of the ways Microsoft made [email protected] mail accessible is by offering an option that is more compatible with screen readers," said San Francisco State University CIO Jonathan Rood in a prepared statement. "Many have asked us why we didn't just suggest to students that they select an e-mail service and simply provide us their e-mail address; however, providing an ad-free e-mail environment was a benefit we wanted to offer to students."

San Francisco State also said it adopted the service for its expanded storage capacity (40 times greater than what was previously provided by the university), savings on software and hardware, multiple device compatibility, security, support, and provisioning and authentication.

CSULB, with more than 35,000 current students, is adopting the cloud-based solution for "increased e-mail storage, access on mobile devices, and ... usability for individuals with disabilities," according to Microsoft. The migration is expected to be complete either in the late fall or early spring.

In addition to the three CSU campuses, several other colleges and universities have also migrated to [email protected], according to information released Monday by Microsoft. These include Aston University (65,000 students), which moved to [email protected] following a dual pilot program conducted last fall that involved [email protected] and Google, both of which were under consideration as replacements to the university's legacy Unix-based system; College of DuPage (30,000 students), which integrated [email protected] with its student portal; Northern Kentucky University (15,000 students), which is providing the service to both students and faculty; the State Center Community College District (34,000 students), which is also providing the service to some 56,000 alumni and is looking to save $100,000 by shifting away from postal communications to e-mail; University of Montana (14,000 students), which was looking to increase storage for student accounts without incurring additional costs; and Washington University in St. Louis (11,000 students), which migrated its students this fall in an effort to save on costs and improve e-mail services.

According to Microsoft, with the addition of the campuses announced today, [email protected] is now available to more than 11 million students in more than 10,000 individual schools worldwide.

About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 29-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEDavidNagel (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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