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Harvard University Prepares to Transition to New Email Hosting Solution

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October 15, 2012

Harvard University Prepares to Transition to New Email Hosting Solution

By Shankar Pandiath, TMCnet Contributor

Recently, faculty and students at Harvard University were surprised to learn that they would be utilizing Google (News - Alert) Apps for email hosting, something mandated by the college. This means that on-campus students and faculties will now have Gmail in place rather than Webmail for their inter-college and intra-college communication and networking.

Until now, only the alumni department had Gmail accounts but now alumni, faculty and students alike will be receiving their official emails via Google Apps and will gain access to Google Spreadsheets, Google Docs, and Google Forms.

Jennifer Wright, assistant director of User Support and Learning Technology Services said in a recent article, “It offers a lot of advantages, both for students and for the institution. For students it means larger email inboxes, so it’s moving from five-gigabyte to 25-gigabyte inboxes.” She further added that Google allows colleges to claim a domain and create accounts within the domain much like Exchange, but it also powers Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets and Google Forms.

Google Apps also offers the college a calendaring system, which has certain additional features that calendars from Microsoft (News - Alert) Exchange don’t have. According to Wright, this will allow every member of the college to share calendars within groups as well as enable key faculty members to set up a block of appointments that students can sign up for.

For awhile now, colleges have been in need of effective tools that facilitate collaboration. Google has dedicated a major portion of its products and services to collaboration tools, and this makes Gmail a good switch for colleges that want to share important electronic documents within groups, classes and committees, ensuring improved interaction and communication.

Sarah F. O’Connell, IT spokesperson added that the combination of expertise and bench strength allowed the institute of higher learning to make the change from one e-mail platform to another in an incredibly short time-frame and without problems.

In fact within three weeks of using these Google hosting college email accounts, 98 percent of all students have made the switch. Except for a few instances of minor security breaches, most of the students have reported that their transitions have been highly successful. 

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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