OIT migrates email accounts to Office365

Design by Ansley Marks

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) will be ending support for Zimbra mailboxes beginning June 30.

Prior to this date, all current Zimbra users will have had the option of migrating to Outlook 365 on their own schedule.

The process will maintain any and all current aliases held by the user and will give them the option to move some, all or none of their current emails to Outlook for 30 days after the migration.

Both WreckTechs and the Technology Support Center (TSC) will be offering services to assist users in migrating their email addresses to Outlook.

After the deadline hits, OIT will begin the process of trimming old, unused mailboxes from Zimbra and migrating used mailboxes to Outlook.

WreckTechs and the TSC will continue to offer support for migration after this deadline.

That being said, users are still encouraged to switch platforms before the deadline to avoid potential delays.

According to Alana DeAngelis, IT Service Delivery Manager for OIT, the migration process will take about one hour after being initiated by the user.

The decision to move away from Zimbra originally did not include mandatory migration, according to DeAngelis, but the process of adopting Outlook began about two years ago.

Concerns about Zimbra’s age and the hardware that hosts Zimbra drove the decision to make the migration mandatory.

DeAngelis also stated that OIT has already migrated over 8,000 mailboxes — about one-third of the total number of boxes — to Outlook and predicts that another third will be purged or will not require migration because they are not in use.

“Process-wise, I could probably do [the migration] in my sleep now,” DeAngelis said. “I think we’ve seen every issue that we’re ever going to see, and we can usually identify the issues and resolve them before somebody migrates.

“With students … I see very few errors and issues. It’s a smooth process.”

The only major issue DeAngelis indicated was the delay that comes when new students arrive, typically before the start of the Fall semester.

The use of a cloud-based solution instead of an on-site solution leads to questions about reliability and data security.

According to DeAngelis, OIT has seen fewer downtime issues with Outlook than they experienced with Zimbra and that issues were typically isolated to single users. OIT holds monthly meetings with Microsoft to discuss current issues with the service, including security issues which prevent users of the Outlook mobile app from securely accessing their Tech emails.

DeAngelis also stated that data security was a major portion of choosing the new mail provider and provided numerous details on the process Microsoft uses for sensitive user data.

Microsoft uses a system known as Customer Lockbox to protect the data of users at Tech.

The system ensures that the technician accessing the data is both a United States citizen and is currently inside the U.S.

In addition, the Customer Lockbox system ensures that the user is both aware of their data being accessed and has given permission for their data to be accessed.

Microsoft enforces this by handing over administrative control of the service to Tech personnel, ensuring that OIT has total control over the access of student, faculty and staff emails.

OIT’s processes are bound by law to ensure stringent protection of all data, adding another layer of security to the process.

DeAngelis indicated that this new service will not result in an increase to the Technology Fee paid by students, as the new service costs Tech roughly the same amount as Zimbra. “Exchange offers additional features that tie in with the Office suite; … overall, it’s a better user experience. Plus, you get larger mailboxes with Office,” DeAngelis said.

OIT encourages all current Zimbra users to switch before the June 30 deadline to avoid delays in the migration process.

Zimbra has not been automatically assigned to students for several years. Students who are third-years and older are most likely to not be using Office365 by default.

Further information on how to back up one’s emails can be found on OIT’s homepage.