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Thread: .edu IT Policy Discussion:

  1. #1
    duran.goodyear is offline Intermediate Member
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    Default .edu IT Policy Discussion:

    Perhaps this is the wrong place, but I figured I could get feed back from a wide selection of my peers in the .edu world...


    The debate has come up where I work about simply doing-away hosting student email internally, and only setting up a "redirect" for their accountname@domain that points at a personal inbox they have elsewhere (gmail, hotmail, etc...)

    The argument apparently is "Why are we in the email business?"

    I have my own personal thoughts on this matter (bad idea), but I was wondering what some of the other .edu people out there are thinking about the idea? if they've had to deal with the idea? how they've dealt with it, and if they know of any schools in particular that are doing anything like this.

    The only benefit I see is reduced costs involved in licensing for each student...

    Comparison wise, I see a massive increase in help desk calls, and a increase in frustration with communication campus as faculty no longer have a real easy way to know who they're getting email from. The administrative staff who deal with FERPA are saying its a bad idea, and I agree from a privacy/legal standpoint...

    Again, any thoughts or comments on the issue are appreciated.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    webman is offline Special Member
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    I think policies and procedures for student email will vary widely across levels of education, country and education authority control.

    I work in a British secondary school - we have around 750 students aged 11-16. Email is part of the curriculum and is also a valuable learning and collaboration tool for both staff and students.

    In our area schools have several options to provide email for students and/or staff:

    1. Pay per-student as part of an SLA to the local authority IT support service. Ours use a hosted MSexChange+OWA. Sluggish, no LDAP/AD integration, no control, nothing.
    2. Use something like Google Apps. No LDAP/AD integration, very little control
    3. Do it in-house.


    We went with option C for several reasons.

    For the cost of hardware alone (in our case, £1,800) we have a single, integrated, single sign-in (important to us) email and collaboration platform (Zimbra) for the whole school - staff, students and third-party agencies and affiliates. As we use the open source edition we have no licence fees to pay at all.

    We also have direct full control over it's filtering and access - essential in our environment for the age of the students. Another benefit is that it's always available. If the internet connection fails or the third-party hosted platform has issues - school users lose email access - not a position we'd like to be in.
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  3. #3
    duran.goodyear is offline Intermediate Member
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    heh, I've been talking about network edition for so long to my bosses that I forgot about the free version...


    I guess the worst I could say is "if you're so ready to get rid of it, maybe a free solution would be better... " and then I can ninja-sneak zimbra in to the network.


    (we're currently MS Exchange 2k3, and migrating to 2k7 over the summer, despite my arguments to the contrary considering we're a 90% OSX campus...)

  4. #4
    Rich Graves is offline Outstanding Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by duran.goodyear View Post
    setting up a "redirect" for their accountname@domain that points at a personal inbox they have elsewhere (gmail, hotmail, etc...)
    I think that particular approach would be very foolish, because both of those providers (and possibly Zimbra/Yahoo, per a hint in a previous thread) will provide user@foo.edu addresses, not just forwards, for free, with generous quotas. In fact, your students might have signed up for Google Apps without your knowledge; see Welcome to Google Apps

    For a large university, I think outsourcing email, as has been done by Arizona State and others, could be a good idea. But some university data needs to be local, so you are going to want something like Zimbra or Exchange for at least the administrative staff. Once you've committed to a fixed cost for a few dozen users, and figured out how to make it reliable, the incremental cost of adding a few thousand students really isn't that great. So for smaller schools (less than 5000, say), I really think it makes sense to manage locally, and Zimbra is the best option available (unless you happen to have > 90% Microsoft penetration, in which case Exchange makes sense).

    "Co-sourcing" among local colleges should be pursued more than it currently is. I've been trying, so far without success, to offer to manage other small schools' Zimbra installations in barter for hosting of a DR site and sharing of other relevant expertise.

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    duran.goodyear is offline Intermediate Member
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    Rich, I can't tell you how good it feels to have your own sanity justified and reinforced by someone else who is saying the exact same things.

    Thanks

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    Jbrabander is offline Elite Member
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    OK, I'm really late getting into this discussion, but I figure I'll add my 2 cents. I use to work in a school district with about 1100 students total, and near 120 staff. (I was the lone tech guy!)

    I'd say keep the email in house. Yes, it's a ton more work on you, but you can control the email then. If a student uses gmail, they could anonymously email someone and tracking it down would be next to impossible. At least with in house you'd have backups, you can get into accounts if required, accounts aren't anonymous, and you can control what kind of attachments are coming in.

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