CTS prepares to switch campus to new e-mail client

As soon as fall 2010, Oswego State students could be checking mail and receiving status updates via a somewhat "lighter" campus e-mail system.

The Campus Technology Advisory Board (CTAB) has made the decision to host the college’s e-mail client in the "clouds" by means of Google’s popular e-mail service, Campus Techology Services Chief Operating Officer Joseph Moreau said.

CTS is pegging late spring/early summer as the likely time period for when a switch would occur, said Michael Pisa, associate director of CTS.

Hardware problems have increasingly plagued Oswego’s current system, and the cost of replacement would greatly exceed the cost to completely switch e-mail services, Moreau said. "Cloud" computing removes the hardware involved in exchange for hosting the service on off-site servers, saving Oswego State staff time and money.

"Many, many things have changed in those five years, technologically and I think both students as well as faculty and staff expectations have gone up quite a bit," Moreau said.

The deal with Google is not yet official, but CTS expects to wrap up the agreement in the near future.

"We have not actually signed a deal with Google yet," Pisa said. "We’ve had conversations and we will be signing something soon."

Still to be determined are the exact logistics of the switch. CTS would have to switch over the entire student and faculty body, a task that they are still deciding how to do.

"It’s going to take some planning on our part to do this successfully," Pisa said.

The off-campus services available have better virus and spam protection, given that the larger host companies have more money and incentive to invest in sophisticated software and have the ability to regularly update their protection.

The CTAB met in the fall to discuss the possibility of changing e-mail service to a cloud computing service. The two leaders were products produced by Microsoft and Google.

About 50 people volunteered to sample the new services last semester and also completed an extensive survey made by CTAB. Most of the questions asked to the volunteers gauged user’s thoughts on how both simple and complex tasks could be completed while using each service.

"The report that came back from the Applications Equipment Sub Committee, was a pretty overwhelming recommendation for Google," Moreau said.

SUNY has an existing contract in place with Google that locks in the service at no cost for four years, with additional upgrades and software included with the deal.

"The fact that we had the whole system, you know the leverage of this very, very large system behind that, I think was very beneficial for us," Moreau said.

The next step is presenting this information to the President’s Council, which will be taking place in the next few weeks. In two to four weeks, the final decision should be made and if supported, the switch will take place in the coming months.

Students can help with the process by submitting feedback and concerns to CTS.