UTS dumps Sun email for Exchange

The University of Technology Sydney today revealed plans to dump its current Sun ONE-based email system for staff use and adopt Microsoft's Exchange.

The University of Technology Sydney today revealed plans to dump its current Sun ONE-based email system for staff use and adopt Microsoft's Exchange.

Chris Cahill
(Credit: UTS)

UTS director of IT client services Chris Cahill said staff had been longing for a system with more integration and functionality, such as the ability to link calendar entries with email. Previously, staff had been accessing the Sun system via third-party email clients like Mozilla Thunderbird and Eudora.

"The whole world is using Outlook and Exchange," Cahill said. "Any product out of the box works on that platform." Despite the change, however, he noted he still considered the Sun solution to be a "powerful, stable email system".

The changeover is now on its way and scheduled to be completed in July. When staff have been migrated, the IT department will run an evaluation on what to do with student mail accounts, with the current idea being to put them on to either Gmail or Microsoft's Live@edu, Cahill said, adding that there was very little difference between the two systems. He believed a student roll-out could start next year depending on the results of the evaluation.

There had been some resistance within the IT ranks as the staff shift away from open-source mail applications, according to Cahill, but it had made less work for the IT support team who had previously needed to create a workaround every time someone bought a new PDA. Now, most things just worked, he said.

Being a university, the team supported almost any device, Cahill said. His preference was iPhone over Blackberry, however, since there was no need to build another infrastructure layer to support it.

On security, he said he hadn't had any problems with the device. "We're not the CIA or a bank. We're a university," he said.

Cahill's team had also rolled out Office 2007 last year across approximately 5000 desktops it manages, but there had been less excitement about that than about the move to Exchange, Cahill said. He hadn't yet looked at Windows 7, but he believed the university would move to it since he didn't think it should get too many releases behind. The university would skip over Vista, he said.

The university has also started a suite of desktop architecture projects to be completed over a period of 18 months which involved implementing Symantec's Altiris and planning the move from Novell desktop services to Active Directory and Windows Server 2008. The university currently has licences with both Novell and Microsoft. Migrating to one will mean lower fees and a lower support cost in terms of maintaining two skills sets.