Outsourcing email, opening communications

Outsourcing email, opening communications

Summary: OK, Christmas is over so put down the mince pie, fatty. It's time to get down to business, and this time I'm throwing myself in at the deep-end, in the salt-water connected to battery mains, swamped with sharks with lasers on their heads.


OK, Christmas is over so put down the mince pie, fatty. It's time to get down to business, and this time I'm throwing myself in at the deep-end, in the salt-water connected to battery mains, swamped with sharks with lasers on their heads.

At university, email can and usually are absolutely everything. Not having access to it can shun those who involve themselves in societies, miss out on information relating to essays being handed in, as well as all kinds of email of vital importance.

But the inbox size can be little to none, at best. Students at the University of Kent get a measly 20MB, which when I use to try and get in touch with people, soon mounts up. Considering I use it to communicate with people in relation to ZDNet, it mounts up further. But for 20,000 people who have email accounts with the university, This equates to only 400GB used for email. Surely we should be able to get a little more storage, or an extra server, considering we're one of the main backbones of the web in the UK?

This will run through some of the options you have, the advantages and disadvantages; looking at online email forwarding, taking your email to the desktop or limiting your ability to reply all the time by sending it to your mobile. Trust me, when you have only a number keypad, it makes life difficult when writing long emails.

Windows Live Hotmail

Windows Live Hotmail taking up my university emailBecause I used to work there, for some reason I get the advertisements turned off and the premium services enabled. I presume there's a connection as I can't think why else. It shall not, however, make me biased towards the service, but some forwarding/receiving services may require a Hotmail Plus subscription to get full services.

The new wave of Hotmail has always been about simplicity, keeping things refined and to the point, concise if you will. The main beauty of Hotmail is being able to link your accounts, so there's no more logging in and out; merely switching from one account to the other. If you have, say, a university email and a Hotmail account, switching between the two is a piece of cake.

Click for larger imageBut that's not why we're here. Hotmail provides the forwarding, as well as receiving of email from another service provider. To enable POP access, Hotmail Plus is required, but other than that you can still forward to other Hotmail accounts. It works for some, but for many it won't be quite enough.

It has "minimal" features for what it looks like; you mainly see white space if you have it on the settings which I have,

Click for larger imageHotmail definitely works well if you use Hotmail to access your university email, provided you can forward from your initial server (usually in the options). Other than that, getting your Hotmail to your university email account will be a little more difficult, and definitely more costly.

Then again, if you can work out how, there should be a way to activate your university email address as a Windows Live ID, but it'll be restricted by the university, and probably one hell of a pain in the arse to get it sorted anyway.

Google Gmail

Click for larger imageGmail has been a best friend to millions of people worldwide. The slightly complicated interface isn't necessarily to my taste, but with the vast and ever increasing storage capacity offered, it certainly makes up for.

The Gmail service allows you to be very dynamic in how you handle your email. You can "take control" of another email account by forwarding everything through to Gmail. With the wide variety of themes, it's very customisable, options and integration it has with other Google services, G-addicts will find this to be a very strong solution.

Click for larger imageSome email accounts only allow web access, but most if not all will allow forwarding. With this, you can use Google as a proxy service, by bouncing email from your original client through to Google, and enabling IMAP or POP to allow desktop access. Getting the settings and lines of communications first set can be a pain, but once you have the settings in place, you can use anything from Thunderbird to Nokia Email.

On your mobile device

Most people have a mobile device nowadays, and if you don't it'll be most likely down to Megan's Law. Students aren't always fixed to their computers, as we're busy with social lives and binge drinking (or as they called it 20 years ago, "drinking"...), having email on your phone can be vital.

Click for larger imageI've discussed mobile devices and email before, and will continue to bring you some interesting thoughts in the coming weeks about the Blackberry especially. With Nokia still claiming the mobile marketshare according to Forrester Research, the iPhone still popular and the Blackberry on the rise, email on your mobile device is getting easier and easier.

Many university accounts don't work with mobile devices properly; this isn't in detriment to the universities as such, but they can't always afford Exchange Server. Again with Hotmail and Gmail, as well as other services such as Mail2Web, you can access email as you go. Using the same settings as mentioned above, you can access Hotmail and Gmail from the mobile portals (http://m.live.com for Hotmail; http://m.google.com/mail for Gmail).

Click for larger imageYou may as well forget BlackBerry Enterprise Services because there's almost no doubt your university won't support it. If you can get BlackBerry Internet Services to work, then you deserve a knighthood for your efforts in progressing the human race. I can't get it working for the life of me.

iPhone's work by entering in the settings for your desktop client, and for those with Nokia phones can use Nokia Email. Not only does it discover your settings for you automatically, it's provided free for those using a Series 60 phone, and allows full access to almost any university email account when roaming around.

I guess ultimately, it depends on how productive you are and which best works for you. It'll be interesting to see how people respond, so feel free to leave a comment.

[poll id=12]

Topics: Collaboration, Browser, Google, Mobility, Outsourcing

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  • Re: Christmas

    Actually, Christmas isn't quite over, yet.
    • BubbaJ

      It is for us here. B*llocks to the 6th, by the 27th we're sick and tired of it.
  • View from the other side of the desk

    I work for a small, private, and non-profit college in the States. We give our students a slightly larger quota than at the U of Kent.

    I will be the first to agree that by today's standards, this is a minuscule amount of space for email. We are planning to upgrade our email system (Exchange 2000 to Exchange 2007), and increase everyone's quota. However, it will still seem exceedingly small compared to email in the Cloud. This is what we can afford without jacking up tuition.

    We look at outsourcing to Microsoft ever so often, but we don't feel that it quite is up to snuff to comply with FERPA.

    Furthermore, we have priorities with which to content. I have one engineer - and he's busy on many projects including upgrading the mail system. Consultants are expensive, and I can only use them sparingly. I picked my battle, and the upgrade came first.

    Perhaps we'll move the student accounts to the Cloud one day, but that day is not today.
    Chad Strunk
    • But..

      Hi Chad,

      Have you investigated Google Apps for Education.?

      It is free from what i have read, as long as you can prove to them that you are a Educations Organisation. You say that you are currently using an Exchange 2000 environment.? Yer.? Google Apps offers another free service to migrate all of your user profiles, emails, contacts and calendars to the Google Cloud. They offer a 99.9% uptime guarantee, and from my experience this is pretty spot on. I have migrated many smaller private schools over here in AUS to this system and they are very happy. The students can access webmail, they can use POP or IMAP for the desktop, and they can use Exchange ActiveSync for their smartphones (if they have one). I think it is a great solution.

      Feel free to email me if you would like more information.. dave[at]dirtyprolive[dot]com
  • For email on cell phone there is Funambol, too

    As per the subject, you can get your email pushed to your phones and in sync with your desktop using Funambol. Take a look at http://my.funambol.com. It works on most phones out there and it free as in freedom. Cheers,
  • Gmail

    I love Gmail, in spite of the strange way that it shows conversation threads (I'm still not really used to it, after years of usage).

    The absence of graphical advertisements is great, although the Firefox add-on Adblock could take care of those, of course.

    Gmail offers a wealth of usability. The e-mail search is wonderful. And Gmail offers a huge amount of extra free services, that you only have to activate to use them (Google Documents, Google Sites, Google Analytics... you name it).

    Thanks Google! :-)
  • I could never get my Uni mail working...

    ...without going through Outlook Web Access, which was a pain as it kept timing out, and only gave you a new mail icon if you used IE. Not very useful when we were using Fedora desktops & Firefox...

    Now I just GMail & Thunderbird, which I have all folders & filters (which translates into Labels in GMail) to sort and I get emal quickly without having to check my browser all the time...

    Next step: BB Storm when my current Vodafone contract comes up for renewal!
    • RE: Dev_Jonny

      Hold your horses - I've got a Blackberry Story 8700 and a Windows Mobile 6.1 device coming through in the next few days. You may think twice about buying the Blackberry - the article will be up in a week or two :)
      • Cool cool...<nt>... :)

  • RE: Outsourcing email, opening communications

    It's worth noting that to outsource your university email, you don't have to use Windows Live Hotmail.

    Microsoft offer a specialised service that makes use of hosted Exchange email, and is designed specifically for this role.

    It's called Live@Edu, and you can get loads of information about it at http://get.liveatedu.com

    It's interesting that your research didn't pick this up!
    • RE: bennuk

      Course I researched it - it just so happens Live@edu has to be provided by the university, and can't work just as a standalone user/student. The university must provide support, otherwise you're out in the cold.
  • What about Zimbra Hosted?

    Zimbra? http://www.zimbra.com/products/hosted_zimbra/zimbra_hosted_trial.html
  • RE: Outsourcing email, opening communications

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  • RE: Outsourcing email, opening communications

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