E-mail systems upgrade scheduled to begin July 15

E-mail systems upgrade scheduled to begin July 15

From Information Resources and Technologies

What is happening?

UST's Information Technology department will be migrating the entire user community to a new Exchange 2007 e-mail environment prior to the start of fall semester. Exchange is the behind the scenes counterpart to the Outlook and Entourage e-mail applications available on UST desktops.

Why are we doing this?

As part of UST's three-year lease replacement cycle, the servers currently housing Exchange 2003 are being replaced with newer and faster systems. In addition, as demands for increased mailbox space, more relaxed restrictions on the types of e-mail attachments allowed, and an increase in electronic mass communication arise, we will be able to meet those needs without compromising critical services such as our anti-spam and anti-virus technologies.

Microsoft has officially set dates to stop supporting the Exchange 2003 and Windows 2003 software packages, if we continue to use these software platforms after the stop date we put ourselves at a higher risk of future support issues. Upgrading to Exchange 2007 will allow us to continue offering high-quality e-mail services to all users while taking advantage of newer technologies and continued vendor support.

What changes will you see?

The major changes to the environment will be focused on the back side of operations. Servers will be more robust. If you are a user of Outlook 2003 or Entourage on the desktop, there will be no visible difference to your experience. We also expect to see faster delivery times of the Bulletin Today and our Emergency Notification System messages.

The one major, visible change will be in the Outlook Web Access interface, which most students and many off-site faculty and staff use. The transition from OWA 2003 to OWA 2007 should be seamless, and Microsoft's Internet Explorer Web browser users will notice a cleaner and more feature-rich interface. Across all Web browsers, security will be tightened so that users can not accidentally leave an OWA session open on public computers. Microsoft has an excellent OWA tutorial that can be found here.  

While each mailbox is moved, the systems will temporarily disable user access to the mailbox. Any mail in transit will be queued for delivery following the migration, and user's individual desktops will automatically reconfigure themselves to look at the new servers after Outlook is restarted. Migration times vary based on mailbox size, but even the largest mailbox will take less than an hour to migrate. OWA users also will automatically reconfigure following a Web browser restart.

In order to minimize a disruption to the work day, faculty and staff migrations will occur during nighttime hours. Due to the large number of student mailboxes, and a lesser reliance on the Outlook or Entourage clients, student migrations will be running on a 24-7 basis so that we may meet our migration timeline goals.

When will this happen?

The start date for migrations to the new environment is Tuesday, July 15. Due to the large number and size of our existing user mailboxes, we are allowing ourselves until August 15 to complete the transition. IRT realizes the importance of e-mail communication in many courses and business processes. We want to ensure the transition goes smoothly for all users, so we will be watching the systems very closely during this process. Maintaining existing levels of service, as well as the integrity of the data on the servers, will be our No. 1 priority.

Questions or concerns

Contact the IRT Tech Desk, (651) 962-6230, with questions or concerns.