Exploration of Microsoft Office 365 email for employees

Monday, June 17, 2019

A message from Bruce Campbell, chief information officer (CIO)

Email services for University employees are currently hosted on an on-premises Microsoft Exchange environment, while email services for undergraduate students are hosted on the cloud-based Microsoft Office 365 environment. 

I believe it is time to evaluate whether employee email should be moved to Office 365, and eliminate our on premises Exchange environment. In such a model, employees would continue to use familiar email and calendaring tools including Outlook, web mail, and smart phone apps, however, the email servers themselves would be located in a Canadian Microsoft data centre.

Benefits of such a change include reduced cost to the University and an enhanced user experience that includes improved service, larger email quotas, and a new opportunity for employees to collaborate with students.

A recent survey suggests most Canadian universities have already moved their employee email to the cloud, with Office 365 being the most common platform used. We have held consultations with four Ontario universities (Toronto, Queen’s, Ottawa and Western) who have recently moved to Office 365 for employees, to learn of their experiences and any challenges encountered.

Many in our research community have already individually embraced cloud solutions (e.g. Dropbox), and several of the University’s enterprise solutions (e.g. Workday, Unit4, LEARN) are cloud hosted. We have completed a Privacy and Security Impact Assessment (PSIA) with IST’s Information Security Services team and the Secretariat, and concluded that cloud hosting of employee email would meet applicable privacy legislation and University policy.

In the coming months, we will begin broader campus consultations on this potential change, including in-person and online opportunities for feedback and questions.

Distributed via email on Monday, June 17 and published in the Daily Bulletin on Wednesday, June 19

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