Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, replaced its email solution with Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 licenses for faculty, staff, and graduate students and Microsoft Office 365 for its undergraduates. With this hybrid solution, Queen’s retained
on-premises authentication, furthered its reputation for superior student services, and avoided infrastructure renewal costs that would have been at least in the high six figures. Students gained cloud-based email and integrated calendaring on their PCs, laptops,
and mobile phones, boosting productivity.
In 2012, Maclean’s Magazine ranked Queen’s University as the top university in Canada for dollars spent on student services. Queen’s ITServices recognized that a quality collaborative suite of services for students is key to supporting a vibrant campus
community. However, the university used an outdated version of Unix-based Java Enterprise System (JES) email for faculty, staff, and students. Faculty and staff used Oracle Calendar but this solution did not integrate with JES. ITServices used a third-party
solution to sync email between faculty members’ computers and their mobile devices. Students were not provided with a calendaring service and were allotted 100 megabyte inboxes. “Students ended up forwarding Queen’s email messages to their cloud-based email
accounts where they had better storage and calendaring functionality,” says Michael Smith, Senior Technical Support Specialist, ITServices at Queen’s University.
||With Office 365, we re-created our superior residential experience in a virtual environment. The students love it!
| Bo Wandshneider
CIO and Associate Vice-Principal, Queen’s University
In June 2012, to provide a consolidated email and calendaring solution that synced with different mobile devices, Queen’s deployed an on-premises Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 solution for 15,000 faculty, staff, and graduate students. ITServices also wanted
to address undergraduate students’ demands for an updated email service. “Students wanted to keep their Queen’s identity and increase mailbox size. They also wanted integrated email and calendars, a mobile web interface, and accessibility from multiple mobile
devices,” says Keith McWhirter, Associate Director, Office of the CIO at Queen’s University.
ITServices began looking for a scalable, cost-effective email service for students. “We couldn’t afford the functionality that students already had with their personal email accounts without moving to the cloud,” says Bo Wandschneider, CIO and Associate
Vice-Principal at Queen’s University. “We also wanted a student email service that would interoperate with our Exchange environment.”
Queen’s University chose Microsoft Office 365 for education to provide cloud-based communication and collaboration services for undergraduate students. Microsoft Office 365 unites familiar Microsoft Office applications, such as Microsoft Exchange Online,
which offers an email and calendaring service, with the power of Microsoft productivity servers into one connected, online solution. With a hybrid scenario—cloud-based and on-premises email services from Microsoft—Queen’s gained an interoperable communication
and collaboration solution that met the needs of all campus constituents. “Office 365 is more than email; it’s a whole collaboration suite with Microsoft SharePoint Online and Lync Online,” says Smith. “We are looking forward to introducing those features
to drive the value for students.”
“We chose Office 365 so students could have the same high standard of email and calendaring as the faculty and staff,” says McWhirter. “Office 365 provided an enterprise-class solution that other Canadian universities, such as the University of Toronto,
For easy access to their mail from anywhere, students can use Microsoft Outlook Web App, a web-based email service that is similar to the full Microsoft Outlook 2010 messaging and collaboration client. And Exchange Online comes with the Exchange ActiveSync
technology, so Queen’s can comply with students’ requests to manage and sync their email across desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. “Office 365 delivers the platform-agnostic environment we need to support the ‘bring your own device world,’” says
In January 2013, ITServices migrated 45,000 student email accounts to Exchange Online in 13 hours, over a single weekend. “We had great pre-migration support from Microsoft,” says Smith. “During the migration, we set students’ forwarding rules in the cloud
and transferred out-of-office messages.”
With Exchange Online, Queen’s University provides cloud-based email and calendaring services to students commensurate with the Exchange Server 2010 solution. This hybrid environment means that Queen’s can take a staged approach toward cloud-based computing
that fits with its IT@Queen’s strategic plan.
Improves Student Productivity
Today, Queen’s undergraduates gain access to email and calendars on any device that is compliant with Exchange ActiveSync 2.5, so their email is always synced with computers, laptops, and mobile devices, boosting productivity. With a 250-times storage
increase in their inboxes, students no longer worry about losing email messages. “With Office 365, students have the tools they need to go from the classroom to the boardroom,” says McWhirter.
Enhances Campus Life
Today, ITServices can offer online tools in an attractive package that uses Queen’s University branding to boost collegiate spirit. “With Office 365, we re-created our superior residential experience in a virtual environment,” says Wandschneider. “The
students love it! We have an opt-out clause, but not one has requested it.”
“Over the years, Alma Mater Society [AMS] has heard students’ concerns about inbox space, calendar options, and ability to sync with smartphones,” adds Doug Johnson, AMS President. “Office 365 addresses all these concerns and offers an easy-to-use interface,
so it’s easier for our community to connect and communicate—something we are very happy about.”
ITServices has now received requests to subscribe graduate students to Office 365. The Office of Advancement also wants to use Office 365 for alumni email accounts.
Reduced IT Costs
Queen’s estimates that email storage alone would have cost CAD$500,000 (US$490,000) to duplicate the service given to undergraduates in Office 365. Decommissioning JES removed nine servers, avoiding hardware replacement and licensing costs. “With Office
365, we can re-allocate IT resources for the innovative and value-added work that our constituents expect from us,” concludes Smith. “For ITServices, it’s a great place to be.”
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