Say goodbye to Zimbra. After three years of using the e-mail platform, Drake University will soon be switching to a new system. Students were able to attend informational sessions this past Monday and Tuesday where the new options were demonstrated.
“Zimbra is a decent product, however, not appropriate for Drake at this time because it is an open source e-mail system,” said Ann Kovalchick, the chief information technology officer for Drake. “We cannot afford to allocate staff time to an open source tool that is a commodity product.”
The e-mail and calendaring work group is looking into Gmail and Microsoft Live@edu systems.
Kolvalchick said the committee was set up to ensure that all Drake users had a chance to influence the decision-making process.
“Currently, the committee is developing a budget and assessing the different technical designs of the two vendor products,” she said.
“Feedback from our students was the deciding factor in our decision-making process,” said Roger James, director of information systems at the University of Westminster on Google App’s case studies site. “We asked them what they wanted, and the vote came in resoundingly for Google.”
Sean Walsh, a Drake sophomore, attended the Gmail informational session.
“There were a couple really neat features,” Walsh said. “Google Docs would make editing papers and working on group projects much easier.”
Another feature Drake users would get with Gmail is Google Chat. Every student’s account would have access to chat and video chat.
“The presenter said that at some schools, this makes it easier to stay in contact with professors outside of office hours,” Walsh said. “You can set up a time to chat with them and talk to them right from your residence hall room.”
Microsoft Live@edu offers many of these same tools, according to its informational website.
“Using technology is an adaptive experience, and it makes no more sense to become wedded to a particular e-mail client or system than it does to become wedded to a particular type of telephone or paper notebook,” Kovalchick said.
A poll on the Drake Student Senate website allows students to vote for which new e-mail system they prefer. The results show that 85 percent would like to switch to Gmail and only 9 percent would like to switch to Microsoft Live@edu.
Kyle Glaser, a Drake junior, prefers the Google option.
“Google Apps would fit into my existing e-mail and communication workflow,” Glaser said. “Plus, when I graduate, I will be able to easily export my data.”
The e-mail and calendaring work group will be making its recommendation to the President’s Cabinet in December. A final decision will be made most likely by January, and implementation of the new system may be complete by late spring or early summer.
It would have been nice if the author of the article found someone who was present at the Microsoft Live@edu presentation and get their perspective as well as the students who went to the Gmail presentation. I’m always a big fan of unbiased reporting and even if majority of the students do prefer the Google, it shouldn’t have an effect on the way the matter is reported.