Microsoft Office 365 project and implementation plan

Project background

Moving undergraduate student email to the cloud

The investigation into cloud hosting of email for undergraduate students started in 2013, with support from our campus IT leadership committees Computing Technology Services Committee (CTSC) and the University Committee on Information Systems and Technology (UCIST). Consultations included the Undergraduate Student Relations Committee (USRC), Graduate Student Relations Committee (GSRC), and the Student Success Office (SSO), and an online survey was held in 2013 seeking input from the campus community. There were four progress updates in the Daily Bulletin throughout 2013 and 2014:

A Privacy Security Impact Assessment (PSIA) was conducted with the assistance of the Secretariat, which included developing requirements for provider handling of personal student information. The process to select the cloud provider started in 2015. An RFP posted in December was subsequently awarded to Microsoft, which met all requirements and passed the PSIA. This was announced in the March 16, 2016 Daily Bulletin.

Implementation of Microsoft Office 365 and selection of domain name

One of the first steps in the implementation process is the selection of a domain name for our Microsoft Office 365 deployment. Just as we have the domain names connect.uwaterloo.ca for our Exchange email system and mailservices.uwaterloo.ca for our current student email system, we need a name for our Microsoft Office 365 deployment. The domain name can be any Internet domain name, and provides the default domain name for email addresses within our Office 365 environment.

A survey was announced in the March 22, 2016 and March 24, 2016 Daily Bulletin and Information Systems & Technology received hundreds of suggestions for the new undergraduate student and alumni email domain name.

As both undergraduate students and, at a later date alumni, will be using this new email domain, suggestions that were specific to one group or the other were removed from the list (e.g. student.uwaterloo.ca, undergrad.uwaterloo.ca, alumni.uwaterloo.ca).

The domain mail.uwaterloo.ca was excluded from the short list due to mail app/client configuration default conflicts when dealing with multiple mail systems.

It is important to students that the new email address maintain an affiliation with the University of Waterloo, and the best way to achieve this is to use a subdomain of ‘uwaterloo.ca’.

Remaining suggestions were carefully reviewed and their feasibility measured against several factors including:

  • technical functionality and compatibility,
  • clear and professional affiliation with Waterloo,
  • alignment with Waterloo brand/identity, and
  • character length

From the resulting short list, a vote was announced in the May 11, 2016 Daily Bulletin, and a memorandum emailed to all undergraduate students inviting them to participate.

The domain name selected through this process was edu.uwaterloo.ca, which means email addresses provided by Office 365 will be of the form userid@edu.uwaterloo.ca. This was announced in the June 2, 2016 Daily Bulletin, and by memorandum emailed to all undergraduate students.

Student information sessions were held in the SLC on June 28, 2016 , November 3, 2016 and March 14, 2017.

For continuity purposes, an alias of userid@uwaterloo.ca will continue to be provided for all current students. This alias is expected to be kept in place until one year after the last day of the student's last academic term registered. This should allow students time to inform contacts of their new email address, update their contact information in any services they have registered for using their @uwaterloo.ca address, etc. After this one year period, forwarding from username@uwaterloo.ca to the new Office 365 account is expected to be discontinued and an error message similar to the below returned to senders for a period of time, yet to be determined:

userid@uwaterloo.ca... Please use edu.uwaterloo.ca instead of uwaterloo.ca

Anyone attempting to contact a student at userid@uwaterloo.ca one year after the last day of the student's last academic term registered would be advised of the student's new address.

Implementation Timeline

A tentative timeline for the implementation of Office 365 is below.

  • Summer 2016- provide incoming first-year students (September 2016) with Office 365 email accounts
  • Fall 2016 - self service migration portal available to current undergraduate students, as announced in the October 25, 2016 Daily Bulletin.
  • April 26, 2017 - all current undergraduate students who had not yet activated their Office 365 accounts were migrated to Office 365 automatically, as announced in the March 28, 2017 Daily Bulletin, and by three email reminders to all undergraduate students (March 8, March 23, April 24)
  • Summer 2017 – Provide staff and faculty with access to Office 365 ProPlus (which provides a copy of Microsoft Office applications for up to 5 personally owned computers)
  • Fall 2017 – Investigate migration of alumni email to Office 365
  • Spring 2018 - Expected first discontinuation of @uwaterloo.ca forwarding for students who have completed their academic career and have not registered for an academic term for a minimum of one year

Questions or concerns ?

Visit the undergraduate student cloud email service page that includes additional information, frequently asked questions, and a way to provide feedback and ask questions.