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University's email switch introduces new features - The Pitt News

The Pitt News

University’s email switch introduces new features

By Sarah Police / For The Pitt News

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For Peter Moe, an outdated layout and 250MB of online storage for email is simply not enough. 

Moe, a graduate student studying English, was happy to find out that Pitt would be changing its current email system on July 27. 

The University will update the email platform currently used by students, faculty and staff on July 27 from EnterpriseMail to Microsoft Office 365. 

With the change comes a number of new features that will be made available to users, including an online calendar, the option to import personal contacts and access to a new University directory including students, staff and faculty at Pitt. Users will also be able to schedule online video conferences with each other using Microsoft Lync, an online conferencing and instant messaging service, reply to emails online, compose emails while offline, set out-of-office notifications, install web apps and receive alerts before sending emails with a forgotten attachment. 

On the current email system, students are given 250MB of storage. Once the update is complete, students will have access to 50GB of storage. 

“I didn’t like the layout, and the storage wasn’t very big so I just stuck to my [personal] email,” Moe said. “I think it’s great that they’re updating the system.”

Dan Menicucci, an enterprise architect for the Computing Services Software Development Department, said there will be several changes after July 27. 

All Pitt students will have an empty inbox in Office 365 that will be used as their new My Pitt Email, accessible through My Pitt just as the old email service was. Faculty and staff will be given a mailbox that will be hosted on-site at Pitt’s University Network Operation Center.

After July 27, CSSD will begin to move student and faculty mail from the old system into their new, respective mailboxes. 

According to Menicucci, CSSD will move roughly 47,000 mailboxes over the course of a 30 day period, moving a sizable chunk of the mailboxes each day. Students will receive an email to their new account when their old mailbox has been successfully transferred. 

According to CSSD’s website, students will still be able to access their old emails through My Pitt (Webmail) while the University works on moving them. 

Additional changes include different email spam filters. Postini — the email security service that Pitt currently uses — will switch to Exchange Online Protection, which is Microsoft’s email security service. Students will also have free access to Office Pro Plus, an online version of Microsoft Office,which will allow them to use Microsoft’s Office Mobile product on iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices.

Menicucci said that CSSD didn’t choose Microsoft 365 for one reason — it was a combination of factors. 

“We really wanted to take a hard look at what we were doing and revamp the exterior,” Menicucci said. “We wanted to reduce complexity both for users and on our end and to offer the service we wanted to move the University to, using a single email platform.”

Menicucci said Microsoft 365 was the best way to offer students more functionality while letting professors have something they are familiar with.

The University’s online technology training service, which can be found at lynda.pitt.edu, will feature several tutorials about the update that include Outlook Web App 2013 Essential Training, Outlook 2013 Essential Training, Office 2013 New Features and Up and Running with Lync Online. There will also be help sheets available online that explain how to get connected. The CSSD experts at the University Store on Fifth will also be able to assist students in the transition. 

CSSD wants to move as many people as possible to the new platform. In terms of how they are making the transition, Pitt will treat different parts of the University separately than others, Menicucci said. 

“For students, we are automatically making an inbox in [Office] 365 and automatically moving the mailbox for them and moving the mail. For faculty and staff, we are asking them [what they would like to do],” Menicucci said.

Beginning July 29, faculty and staff will have to notify CSSD if they would like to update their platform or have their mail forwarded to another email account such as a Hotmail or Gmail. They also have the option to stay on the legacy email system. Surveys will be sent out via email prior to July 29 to the faculty and staff to collect information. 

“Depending on how the staff and faculty answer [the survey], if they want to read [their email] on the Pitt email box or forward it, we’ll take care of that for them,” Menicucci said.

University spokesman John Fedele said CSSD is using multiple communication channels to get the word out, such as the Responsibility Center Account Administrators, which helps manage the University’s computing resources and information technology professionals within the University. 

Additionally, Menicucci said CSSD would like the different departments at Pitt to assist in communicating with students about the new system.. 

“We are meeting to really get the message out, and if they want to take that message to communicate to their users that’s great, but we’re not going to rely solely on that,” Menicucci said.

Will Shoener, a junior math major, said he was happy with the news of the switch.

“The email system now is very difficult to maneuver, so I think this is going to make Pitt email a more primary source of communication. I barely use Pitt email because of how inconvenient it is, especially on my phone’s Internet browser,” Shoener said. “I’m looking forward to the increase in functionality.”

[Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated that the University’s email update would occur on July 19. That date has been pushed back to July 27 since this article has been published. This article has been updated to reflect the most current information.] 

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University’s email switch introduces new features