CLARIFICATION: This story was amended to clarify the fact that CU faculty and staff will not face a second e-mail upgrade.
The University of Colorado’s Office of Information Technology is hoping to upgrade student email to Google mail, or Gmail, almost a year after they were expected to roll out a new Microsoft Live format across campus.
Last summer, the university announced that it was planning to migrate faculty and staff, then students and alumni to the new Microsoft system through the fall 2011 semester. The change took longer than expected for faculty and staff and by the time the technology office was ready to transition students to a new format, whispers of another change in the Microsoft platform forced the staff to rethink their plan.
Greg Stauffer, spokesman for the Office of Information Technology at CU, said another change in the platform would have forced the university to migrate students twice — once to Microsoft Live and then again to the updated version.
Stauffer said the possibility of a second adjustment and other projects on campus that were taking priority, led the office to hold off on the migration for students and alumni.
“We didn’t have the band width, first of all, and it didn’t make sense to move them to Live.edu and then to another new product,” Stauffer said.
While faculty and staff were migrated to a Microsoft system, it was not the same platform as the student system and will not require a second upgrade, Stauffer said.
The campus is having discussions with Google to work out a contract for an email system that would give students a range of functions that are not currently available on CU Link, including calendar syncing, Google document sharing and live chatting.
“It’s not a done deal yet,” Stauffer said. “We are still working on the contract, but we’re hoping to have something nailed down soon.”
Faculty and staff would likely stay on the Microsoft platform, which they’ve been using for the last several months, while students and alumni go to the Google system.
The university conducted opinion polls in 2009 asking students, faculty and staff what email server they preferred and what functions they wanted in a new system. The poll determined that Microsoft Live was the best platform for campus needs.
In April, Information Technology conducted a new round of surveys gathering updated information from students about what they wanted from an email system. Based on the results and input from the undergraduate and graduate student governments, the team decided Gmail was the best fit.
Full-time undergraduate students pay $67.24 per semester for a computing fee that includes the cost of email maintenance and other campus technology.
Stauffer said the migration to Gmail — which is maintained by Google instead of the university, like the current system — could save CU money in decreased labor and hardware costs, but that does not mean the fee would decrease.
“The fee won’t be directly affected by a change to the email,” Stauffer said. “If we do change to Gmail, it would just allow us to allocate that money to different projects.”
Since last summer, CU has launched a redesign of the university website, colorado.edu, a new guest Wi-Fi service that does not require login information and Wi-Fi on the Buff Bus that runs from Williams Village to the main campus.
Stauffer said virtual desktops are just one of the technology updates that students may see in the future as a result of the redistributed funding.
Brittni Hernandez, president of CU Student Government, said 25 percent of students are already having their colorado.edu email forwarded to a personal Gmail account.
“I mean you can’t give everyone what they want, but I feel like students are going to be pretty happy with this decision,” Hernandez said. “I have a Gmail account and I really love the functions it gives me.”
CUSG passed legislation on Thursday supporting the university’s attempt to migrate to Gmail.