In today’s post we hear from Algonquin College on why Microsoft was the best decision for their institution in their move off Lotus Notes, to embrace cloud computing.
“Students can’t believe they can be anywhere in the world and access their email with Microsoft Outlook from any of their mobile devices.”
Shirley Haug, Professor, Algonquin College
Based in Ottawa, Algonquin College is one of the largest colleges in Ontario, Canada, serving 19,000 full-time and 40,000 part-time registrations. Algonquin College offers more than 170 full-time programs, including certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s degrees, and graduate programs in applied studies, as well as hundreds of additional part-time and distance education courses.
The college recently decided to serve virtual students in addition to traditional students by offering many programs and services online. In addition, the college committed to becoming fully mobile by making it possible for students to access email and other applications anytime, anywhere, from any device.
To better serve the new wave of digital-age students, Algonquin College wanted to move its email system to a cloud model that would be available to students from virtually any Internet connection. The college had hosted its own email system for more than a decade. Over the years, however, this email system had become increasingly outdated as more students sought email access from mobile devices.
IT Solution and Benefits
After evaluating other solutions, such as Google Apps for Education, Algonquin College chose Microsoft Live@edu, a set of hosted communication and collaboration services for students. Live@edu provides students with a 10-gigabyte (GB) email inbox through Microsoft Office Outlook Live, document creation and editing through Microsoft Office Web Apps, document collaboration and 25 GB of free file storage on Windows Live SkyDrive storage technology, instant messaging, and video chat. All capabilities are accessible with the same user ID and password.
“Microsoft had some solutions that we couldn’t equal in terms of storage, in terms of access to services that were far superior to what we were doing,” says Robert Gillett, President of Algonquin College. “We saw an opportunity to stop doing something we weren’t very good at, decrease our costs, and get better service for our students.”
The college worked closely with Microsoft to transition its email system to Live@edu. The college’s new service, called Live@AC, was deployed in August 2010. The transition of 34,000 existing student email accounts to the new system was completed over a single weekend. “It’s one of the smoothest transitions we’ve ever gone through on any internal or external server,” says Gillett. “It works, and it works well.”
With Live@edu, Algonquin College has lowered the IT costs associated with purchasing and maintaining its own servers. Even so, the college is able to provide its students with a robust set of features for producing documents and collaborating on them in a highly secure manner. Perhaps most important, Live@edu has enabled students to become fully mobile by offering them access to their email accounts and other productivity applications, regardless of their location.
Please tell us about your experience with Live@edu.