Employee Feedback Wanted on Possible E-mail and Calendar Replacement

Employee Feedback Wanted on Possible E-mail and Calendar Replacement

By Alexis BlueUniversity Communications
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The UA is considering replacing the campuswide e-mail and calendaring systems and wants feedback from employees.
The UA is considering replacing the campuswide e-mail and calendaring systems and wants feedback from employees.

University of Arizona employees are being asked for their input on a potential replacement for the University e-mail and online calendar systems.

University Information Technology Services is hosting a series of open information sessions to introduce the campus community to Google Apps for Education, one of the possible replacements for the UA WebMail and Meeting Maker calendar programs. Microsoft Exchange is also being considered.

Google Apps already has been approved as the new e-mail system for UA students in a transition that's expected to take place this summer, said Tom Rees, associate director of UITS.

Since Google Apps is the lesser known and least expensive option under consideration by UITS, the department has launched a "road show" of information sessions to allow faculty and staff to explore the system and provide feedback.

"This is new and innovative stuff," said Rees, adding that he knows of no other university that has signed up its employees for Google Apps.

The Google system would give UA employees access to a much "richer feature set" than is currently available through UA WebMail or the Meeting Maker calendaring system, Rees said. Some of those new features include instant messaging, video capabilities and collaboration tools to enable functions like interactive document editing.    

Many offices on campus already use Google applications in their work. If it is approved as the UA e-mail and calendaring system, campus users will be able to access e-mail and calendar tools through a single sign-on with their existing UA NetID, Rees said.

The current UA WebMail and calendar systems are in serious need of an upgrade, Rees said.

"They were great 10 or 15 years ago – they were state of the art. But we've outgrown them tremendously," Rees said.

Outsourcing e-mail and calendaring services could also potentially save the UA hundreds or thousands of dollars in future costs related to hardware replacement for existing systems, Rees said.

The Google Apps information sessions begin with a 10- to 15-minute presentation by UITS representatives, followed by discussion. Employees who attend the sessions will have the option to sign up for a Google Apps pilot program, open to up to 400 people.

Two information sessions geared specifically toward campus IT support employees were held on campus last week, and the first session designed for end users was held yesterday. Remaining public information sessions will take place at 2 p.m. in Room 141 of the Manuel Pacheco Integrated Learning Center today and on June 15, 18 and 19. No reservations are required. 

Representatives from Google will give a presentation on Google Apps features and benefits on June 16 at 11 a.m. in ILC 119.

For more information, contact Tom Rees at trees@email.arizona.edu.

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