Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I&IT considers email outsource

Source: Media.www.thepolypost.com

As some universities have begun to use outsource their e-mail providers to hosts such as Goggle, Yahoo and MSN the CSU's may follow their lead.

Cal Poly has kept tabs on the feasibilities of such an opportunity but has held back due to potential issues that can result from using outsourcing e-mails, according to Debra Brum, vice president of Instructional & Information Technology.

"Vendors would sell to advertisers and it's not appropriate to put students at risk," said Brum. "We also have two concerns: whether the product can be accessible to students with disabilities and that teachers or staff can't create groups for courses, majors and/or honor programs."

There are certain concerns on whether it is safe to outsource due to privacy reasons.

Some outsourced e-mails make money by scanning private e-mail for keywords, and making their advertising to users, according to the Brown Daily Herald. Another issue is the possibility of an outside server going out of business and causing users to lose all their stored e-mails.

"I'd rather not outsource for security reasons," said Kristina Nguyen, a second-year computer science student. "I'm pretty content using the school's e-mail for work and archives. It's more personal in my opinion."

However, there are price incentives in switching providers. According to U.S. News and World Report, both Northwestern and the University of Pennsylvania saved about $1 million in technology support costs by outsourcing their e-mail services in the first year alone.

Cal Poly did make e-mail provider changes last year when it switched from Web mail to Microsoft Exchange. In 2006, the Education Center for Applied Research conducted a survey asking the satisfaction and use of Web mail, which did not prove to be meeting expectations.

Only 21 percent of freshman and 35 percent of seniors preferred using campus e-mail. After the switch to Exchange, student use improved: 66 percent of freshmen and 77 percent of seniors prefer using campus e-mail instead of their personal e-mail for university business.