In 2013 McMaster started a new “Unified Communication Project”. The purpose of this project was to review options and provide recommendations on the implementation of enhanced e-mail and calendar services to Staff and Faculty. The existing Univmail / Oracle Calendar system is beyond end of life and the ability to provide integrated calendaring and support for mobile devices requires a major upgrade. The end result would not address the need for an integrated solution as disparate email and calendaring systems would continue to exist on campus. A significant degree of end user frustration accessing information via multiple sources and a lack of interoperability between multiple internal service providers at the university would continue. In addition the current systems (Univmail / Oracle Calendar) required substantial investment in equipment, licenses and support for continued operation.
For the reasons above, it is obvious that the status quo is not an acceptable option, and the cost to upgrade Univmail is on par with preferred options that provide far greater functionality and productivity benefits across the entire campus. Outsourcing of email and calendaring was explored but not pursued for two reasons – privacy issues and cost. Faculty and Researchers are particularly sensitive to the issue of storing electronic communications outside Canada. While “free” outsourced services do exist, they require storage outside Canada and offer limited, if any, backup and recovery facilities and makes no guarantees of system availability. The inclusion of backup and recovery along with the guaranteed up-time required by McMaster comes with a hefty price tag.
In light of the above, the recommended solution is to implement a consolidated campus wide Microsoft Exchange solution for e-mail, calendaring and collaboration, by building on the significant infrastructure already employed by the Faculty of Health Sciences and managed by the Computer Services Unit (CSU). Existing Univmail / Oracle calendar users would be migrated from existing servers in UTS to CSU in a phased approach starting late in 2014 and completing in 2015. This consolidation will reduce the cost of maintaining duplicate services, hardware infrastructure, software licenses, and provide a single solution for email and calendaring across the entire university. While CSU would manage the daily operations relating to the Microsoft exchange environment, UTS would continue to leverage its expertise by managing the university’s primary email gateway, security, and associated network infrastructure.