UQ mid-way through huge Exchange migration

The University of Queensland has moved 70,000 email accounts to a hosted Microsoft Exchange platform, with plans to complete 170,000 more in the next few months.

Since announcing the university would move its students to hosted Microsoft Exchange email, University of Queensland (UQ) director of information technology services Nick Tate has provisioned 70,000 accounts, with plans to complete 170,000 more in the next few months.

(Walkway by Alan Levine,CC 2.0)

"We've provisioned 70,000 accounts for students," UQ's director of information technology services Nick Tate told ZDNet.com.au. The new accounts run alongside the current university ones, he said, so the students will make the switch when they wish.

Students reach the new accounts via a tab on the UQ site. Tate has been making the new email addresses available to students in tranches of 10,000 so as not to overload the system. Despite most students being away on holidays, so far 2,500 students had made the switch, he said. The 6,500 new students starting this semester will automatically be on the accounts.

The feedback had been good, Tate said, with the only criticism being that there was no automatic system of transferring mails. His team was working on that now.

Once all 70,000 were switched on, the university will turn to its 170,000 alumni. There would be no obligation for the alumni, whose university accounts have lapsed, to take up a new email account at the university, but they would have the option. "We'll provision sufficient numbers so that anybody that wishes can," Tate said.

Staff would not be going onto the hosted Exchange system, according to Tate. "We wouldn't put staff onto a system hosted overseas," he said.

The university had looked into the Gmail alternative, having run pilots with both Microsoft Live@edu and Gmail. Both were excellent, in Tate's opinion. However, he found Microsoft's system to be more flexible with domain names and he was able to negotiate better terms and conditions from a privacy point of view. The University of New South Wales, which has also decided to adopt Microsoft's hosted Exchange mail, is using the same terms and conditions which UQ negotiated, Tate said.

Amongst others, Macquarie University and the University of Auckland have adopted Gmail.

Another project Tate has had on the boil has been wireless access to the internet in the CityCat to the university. In November it started with one CityCat using the iBurst network. Since that has been shut down, the university switched to 3G. In the next week, students with access to Eduroam will be able to access the internet in another dozen CityCats, Tate said.

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