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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Gmail to replace Zimbra

<ir="ltr">From Thursday, June 9 to Thursday, June 23, Carleton will transfer its email service from Zimbra to Gmail, and over the next year, the College will move from COLLAB storage to Dropbox. This decision is a result of several campus surveys, 500 hours of testing and countless time spent analyzing and debating the pros and cons of other email service providers.

Julie Anderson, director of web services, explained that during ITS’s review of the systems, most feedback from the campus community was neutral. “It was nice to know that either product would work well,” Anderson said.

After many years of Zimbra as the campus messaging system, information technology services and administration felt that it was time to switch over to either Office 365 or Gmail.

“Technology has changed a lot in the last 10 years,” Janet Scannell, chief technology officer, said. “It’s time to modernize our tools and practices. We can collaborate now better than ever before.”

Throughout their joint interview, Scannell and Anderson both emphasized improved collaboration as the driving factor for the system switch. JordiKai Watanabe-Inouye ’17, the ITS liaison for CSA, also explained that the gradual move of COLLAB and COURSES document storage to Dropbox comes from a desire to make collaboration easier. Dropbox makes it easier for students, faculty and staff to share information both on and off campus, according to Watanabe-Inouye. The choice to change from Zimbra was a simple one, according to Scannell and Anderson. However, the decision on whether to implement Gmail or Office 365 took longer to finalize. While the two systems are similar in many ways, as Scannell explained, many of those in administration were in support of Office 365 because of its greater business-related features. On the other hand, many of those in the campus community supported the installation of Gmail because of Carleton currently uses Google Docs and because they felt greater familiarity with the Gmail system. This feedback on system preferences was collected through both surveys and ITS testing sessions.

“We wanted people to experience it,” Anderson said. “We didn’t want to the decision to be made behind closed doors.”  

Before the campus-wide transition in June, some faculty, staff and students are piloting the new email system to further test the transition, according to Watanabe-Inouye. She said this will make the campus-wide transition smoother.

“With any system, you have to look forward,” Scannell said. “In this process we were forced to evaluate. We must look forward and see what our positions should be in the future.”

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