Motivation for Change
Computing Services has provided the campus with email using the Cyrus email environment and Oracle (“Andrew”) Calendar services for over a decade. Although the current Cyrus environment provides a reliable email system, it lacks some modern email features. In recent years, Computing Services has received numerous requests from Carnegie Mellon business units for improvements to our current email and calendar services. These requests focus on integrated email and calendar client applications, mobile phone support, improved webmail and advanced email features.
Our email and calendar concerns assumed a new sense of urgency when Oracle released a new calendar product to replace Oracle Calendar and announced that premier support for Oracle Calendar would end. A great deal of university administrative work relies on a robust enterprise calendar. Therefore, Computing Services initiated a project to examine the issues and costs of an alternative calendar service — with a goal of accommodating the requests for integration with email service — for faculty, staff and graduate students.
Efforts to Date
The results of the initial project to examine issues and costs of an alternative calendar solution indicated that, for faculty, staff and graduate students, Microsoft Exchange Server would provide the best integrated email and calendar solution. Exchange provides a viable enterprise calendar that is integrated with email and that, because of its market dominance, provides widespread, regularly updated support for mobile devices. This recommendation was vetted with the Executive Steering Committee on Computing (ESCC); an advisory steering committee for Computing Services made up of the Provost, all the Vice Presidents, two Deans, and a representative from the Administrative Leadership Group. The ESCC advised that Computing Services should proceed with a discovery on implementation of an Exchange calendar/e-mail solution for Carnegie Mellon.
The next phase of this evaluation included meetings with the leadership and key IT personnel within academic and administrative departments. The goal of these discussions was to listen and understand the business productivity concerns associated with a change in email and calendar systems to better inform an implementation plan. Through these conversations, we identified the following common needs and concerns.
- Increased need for immediate, seamless integration of email and calendar with mobile devices.
- Increased demand for integrated email and calendar functionality at the enterprise (university) level. Belief that organization-wide adoption of an enterprise calendar system is best considered at the level of the administrative unit. Schools will continue to see mixed email and calendar adoption. Therefore, a model to support this usage trend is desirable.
- Continued security, privacy and reliability concerns associated with outsourced options are still prevalent.
Based on the technical evaluation of possible solutions and the information gathered through discussions with university stakeholders, following are the implementation plans for an alternative email and calendar solution for faculty, staff and graduate students.
- Microsoft Exchange will be provided as the integrated email and calendar solution for central administrative units. Exchange offers a viable enterprise calendar that is integrated with e-mail and that, because of its market dominance, provides widespread, regularly updated support for mobile devices.
- Schools will be given the choice to "opt-in" to the Exchange solution. Deans and department heads will decide whether all, none, or portions of their organizational units will migrate to Exchange. Academic departments that do not move to Exchange will continue to use Cyrus email and Oracle Calendar, until it is decommissioned.
- Computing Services will start to seek input concerning email and calendar services for undergraduates in fiscal year 2013.
The extended Exchange deployment plan will begin with an Early Adopter Program from January through May 2011. This program will be conducted first with groups internal to Computing Services and later extended to an external department. The purpose of this phase is to test and improve implementation of the Exchange service including the migration process, documentation, training and on-going support model.
Campus deployment is tentatively scheduled to begin in summer 2011 pending the results of the Early Adopter program. This will be a phased deployment scheduled according to availability and the business calendars of individuals and departments. Computing Services will work closely with departments throughout their migration.
No action is requested at this time. Computing Services will continue to provide project updates as this work progresses.