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Email & Calendaring Direction - FAQ

The following questions and answers apply to individuals who currently use OIT’s central services for messaging and calendaring.  If you do not currently use an OIT service, you will not see any changes, although this FAQ will help provide an overview of the options that are available to you if you decide to move to a central service.


Why aren’t we putting the whole campus (faculty, staff and students) on the same service?

Students indicated a strong preference for Google Workspace over Microsoft Office 365. While many departments on campus use or wish to use the enterprise collaboration tools only available through Microsoft (Lync, SharePoint, Office Web Applications); however, there are some faculty who use Google Workspace for teaching and some students who wish to use Office Applications for collaboration. For these reasons we hope to eventually make both services fully available to faculty and staff on campus.

Google Workspace for Education

How was the decision made to move students to Google Workspace for Education?

OIT collaborated with the undergraduate and graduate student government groups to assess what service students would like to have as their messaging and calendaring service. Interviews with student groups and results from a survey sent to students indicated a strong preference for Google Workspace for Education. The student government groups have confirmed this feedback by creating documents and formal legislation in support of transitioning student messaging and calendaring services to Google Workspace.

Microsoft Office 365

How was the decision made to move faculty, staff and retirees to Microsoft Office 365?

To begin, a few years ago an earlier decision was made to move faculty, staff, and retirees from CULink to Exchange 2007, a migration just recently completed. Office 365 is also Exchange, but hosted by Microsoft and offering a more up-to-date version of Exchange along with a variety of collaboration tools. OIT collaborated with academic and administrative IT governance groups and campus IT professionals to determine this near-term direction for employee messaging and calendaring services. Given that a number of large campus departments already use Lync and SharePoint (both included in Office 365), faculty and staff are familiar with the Exchange services and migration would be simplified, these groups agreed that Microsoft Office 365 is the next logical step in the evolution of CU Boulder employee messaging and calendaring.

What are the benefits of moving to Microsoft Office 365?
  • You will have 50GB of storage on Office 365 compared to the current 1GB quota imposed by the Central Exchange 2007 service.
  • Microsoft Office 365 provides increased functionality compared to the current CU Boulder Exchange 2007 environment:
    • Microsoft Lync for instant messaging and video conferencing
    • Microsoft SharePoint for easy website creation and management
    • Microsoft Office Web Applications for web-based access to word processing, spreadsheet and presentation documents.
  • An enhanced Outlook on the web experience for Firefox, Safari and Chrome users.
Why do we have to move to a new email solution? My account was just recently moved from CULink to Microsoft Exchange and I don’t want to move again.

The campus hosted Exchange service which is currently the home for faculty and staff accounts is on the 2007 version and needs to be upgraded and additional capacity added. Since this upgrade would require some form of migration and additional expense, a decision was made to move to Microsoft’s cloud-based service which will provide more collaboration tools and regular updates than the campus would be able to provide for the same price. Keep in mind that you will be moving from one version of Exchange to a similar version of Exchange.

What if student employees need to collaborate with co-workers in their department? Can they get an Office 365 account for email and calendaring?

Student employees are currently eligible for a secondary account on Microsoft Exchange for the purposes of collaboration and we plan to make the same service available on Office 365. Supervisors should contact the IT Service Center to make the request.

Will my email messages, calendar appointments and contacts all be moved to Microsoft Office 365?

Yes, all messages, calendar appointments and contacts belonging to faculty and staff will be migrated over to Office 365.

I prefer to use Apple Mail to interact with my Exchange account as opposed to using Outlook. Will Apple Mail work with Office 365 as it does with Exchange?

Yes. Apple Mail works with Office 365 similarly to how it works with Exchange 2007. On a Mac, Microsoft Outlook will be the recommended client, but both Apple Mail and Outlook will be supported.

Will my email address change when my account moves to Office 365?

No, your email address will stay the same.

I have a research grant that has specific requirements for email security and management. Will Office 356 meet those requirements?

It depends on the requirements. Microsoft states that all Exchange, SharePoint and Lync servers are located only in the United States and so we believe it meets export control regulations.


Why is this effort being done in phases?

The effort has been planned in phases due to its complexity and staffing resources. Completing the messaging direction efforts requires the implementation of two completely new services (Google Workspace for Education and Microsoft Office 365), the retirement of two existing services (CULink and Exchange 2007), and the full migration of approximately 125,000 total email accounts.  Performing all of the planning, testing, and final implementations for these services takes a coordinated effort across many different areas of OIT and many different staff members. By taking a phased approach, OIT staff members can thoroughly tackle each objective, while still providing minimal disruption to your email and calendaring service.

What determined the order of the three phases?

The phase order was largely determined by the need to retire existing hardware and software infrastructure. It was necessary for the rollout of Google Workspace for Education to be the first phase because the CULink hardware and software had officially reached the end of supportable life in 2012. CU Boulder had to negotiate special terms and pricing with the vendor in order to continue operating the environment with minimal vendor support through the summer of 2013, at which time the Google Workspace for Education rollout was completed.  

Slating the rollout of Microsoft Office 365 as the second phase had a similar motivation. The hardware for the Exchange 2007 environment was due for replacement in early 2014 and so OIT faced a decision: replace the current equipment (and, very likely, plan and complete an upgrade to Exchange 2010) or progress towards Office 365. Migrating to Office 365 as the second phase eliminated the cost and effort of implementing Exchange 2010 as a short-term solution.

As a result of infrastructure requirements driving the first two phases, the ability to choose your email and calendaring platform naturally fell into place as the third and final phase.

I’m a student whose CU Boulder email account is hosted by Google Gmail. Can I take advantage of the Microsoft Office 365 applications such as Office Web Apps, SharePoint, and Lync Online?

Yes. As part of phase 2 of the implementation of a new email and calendaring direction for campus (currently underway), all campus constituents will receive accounts on Microsoft Office 365. However, only faculty, staff, and retirees will have their email accounts hosted by Office 365 - at least until phase 3 is underway, which encompasses the ability to choose either Gmail or Exchange Online regardless of affiliation.

I’m a faculty member whose CU Boulder email account is hosted by Microsoft. Can I take advantage of the Google Workspace for Education such as Drive, Docs, and Chat?

Yes. As part of phase 1 of the implementation of a new email and calendaring direction for campus  (already completed), all campus constituents have received Google Workspace for Education accounts. However, only students and alumni can have Gmail as their CU Boulder email account - at least until phase 3 is underway, which encompasses the ability to choose either Gmail or Exchange Online regardless of affiliation.

I heard that we may someday be able to choose our email provider, regardless of affiliation. Is this true?

Yes. Phase 3 of the implementation of a new email and calendaring direction for campus  (not yet begun), will provide all CU Boulder constituents the ability to choose their email and calendaring platform of preference - either Gmail or Exchange Online. Regardless of the platform chosen, all constituents will continue to have full access to the collaborative apps and tools that come with both the Google Workspace for Education and Microsoft Office 365 solutions.

Google for Education

More information about Google for Education

The FAQs on this page are specifically geared toward understanding the direction of the email and calendaring plan. We have many more details (and FAQs) to provide regarding the Google Workspace for Education service, but because this service has already been fully implemented as part of the completed first phase, please see the Google Workspace service page for more information.