Making Connections: Migrating to a Single University Email Service

At last count, the population using Ohio State's email system was larger than the city of Cincinnati. With more than 300,000 users, our system serves a population roughly half the size of Columbus. We started with a system of over 100 domains, and we’re down to fewer than 50.

With 52% of users on campus migrated, this project represents a huge step toward securing university information. Studies show that about 29% of security breaches involve emails that contain malicious links or attachments that, when clicked, give the attacker a foothold in the victim’s network. We process the more than 1.2 million messages daily, including email from the Internet to @osu.edu addresses; messages from @osu.edu addresses to users to the Internet; and messages to osu.edu addresses that are forwarded to other Internet addresses.  About 90.11% of all email from the Internet to @osu.edu address that comes into our services is blocked or marked as spam.

The University Email Service provides an Exchange-based email and calendaring service for faculty and staff that supports the university’s long-term plans for unified communications – that means faculty and staff can collaborate more easily because they share the same email platform, user experience and support model. The Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) initially partnered with the Office of Student Life to develop this university-wide system for simpler and improved communications – the obvious benefits to having all of us connected.

“In the 13 years that I have been here, it was probably the best planned and executed OCIO project I have been involved with,” said Jim Null, CIO, Athletics and Business Advancement. “Brady Dodson and Jason Pollock prepared us and let us know what would be happening and when. Once the migration began they kept us on task. There was a clear goal and everyone understood the advantages to making the move>”

In three years, the project has successfully migrated dozens of groups to a common email platform. Each migration has similarities, but collaboration is the key to overcoming unique challenges posed by various groups since each has a different platform, different functionality and different needs. The transition team spends most of its time working with users to ensure their needs are considered and the transition is a smooth one for the faculty and staff. 

The team has also made changes and upgrades along the way in response to customer needs. For example, in early 2013 we increased the default size of mailboxes from 500MB to 1GB and introduced unlimited archive mail storage.

If you are interested in making the leap the university email platform, visit the Enterprise Email Project web site for more information or contact project manager Doug Lach by email or at 614-292-6018.

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