University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken announced today that the university has entered into an agreement with the Microsoft Corp. to migrate its e-mail and calendaring system to a new cloud-based system that will better meet the needs of its faculty, staff and administrators and reduce annual costs by as much as 50 percent.

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Over the next 12 to 18 months, all NU campuses will migrate from the current Lotus Notes e-mail system to the Microsoft system. The university will install an Office 365 cloud-based e-mail system at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Nebraska at Kearney and University of Nebraska Central Administration, and Exchange 2010 at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (a premise-based version preferred because of HIPAA requirements). Most employees, including all those currently using Lotus Notes, will not have to change their e-mail address. Student migration will depend on existing agreements.

Milliken said the agreement with Microsoft is a very positive development for the university that is supported by all of the campus chancellors, chief information officers and others. Many leading universities, including the majority of institutions in the Big Ten, have implemented Microsoft e-mail systems.

“A robust, reliable, effective and secure e-mail system is critical to the operation of the modern university,” Milliken said. “On a daily basis, our e-mail system facilitates the conduct of official business with the Board of Regents, students, faculty, staff and administrators as well as various outside agencies, research facilities and countless stakeholder groups and citizens. It is vital that we have an e-mail system in place that allows us to perform these duties in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible. The Microsoft system will help us accomplish this goal.”

The current Lotus Notes system was implemented in 1997. Milliken said he had been receiving an increasing number of requests in recent years to consider whether Lotus Notes was the best choice for the university. Last year, he appointed a university-wide task force to examine, among other issues, whether the Lotus Notes system met the needs and requirements of faculty, staff and administrators and, if not, to recommend appropriate changes. The task force was chaired by Dr. John Ballard, professor emeritus in the College of Engineering at UNL.

The task force recommended that the university assess migrating to a less costly and more advanced e-mail environment. Milliken reviewed the task force’s recommendation with the chancellors, who unanimously endorsed the recommended strategy. A formal Request for Proposals process was initiated, and after careful consideration by system and campus leadership, the university determined that Microsoft’s proposal best fit the university’s overall requirements relating to functionality and cost.

“The Microsoft system will provide our faculty and staff with a superior web-based interface and better capabilities,” said Walter Weir, chief information officer for the NU system. “We believe that moving to the cloud environment is the best way to leverage current technology and achieve greater cost savings and better security for our system.”

Campus technical teams will work together to build the required back-end infrastructure to support the e-mail migration and deployment. A new page on the university’s website, www.nebraska.edu/email, is available and will be updated frequently with status updates, common questions and answers, tutorials and other information. In addition, employee updates and forums will be held on each campus.
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