Office 365 Project Highlights
Why move off FirstClass?
- Our surveys showed many faculty and staff complaints about the FirstClass system
- FirstClass did not work well with mobile devices
- Even after increasing storage last year, many report there is still not enough; adding more to match storage offered by "cloud" services would be prohibitively expensive.
- Frequent reports of slow performance from off-campus.
- Looked at solutions for both hosted on campus and in the cloud
- Over 50 student, faculty, and staff testers
- Tested Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps for Education, and Zimbra
Benefits of Microsoft Office 365:
- New “cloud” solution provided by Microsoft
- Excellent web email and calendar
- Best support for contacts and mailing lists
- Seamless integration with MS Outlook and Mac mail
- Simplest mobile setup
- 25 gigabytes of storage per person (more than 50X what’s available in FirstClass.)
- No ads
- Forward to Google if you prefer
- Your Furman mail addresses will remain the same
Are other schools going to solutions like Microsoft Office 365?
- 66% of higher education institutions now host student email in “the cloud”.
- 20% of higher education institutions now host faculty and staff email in the cloud, and that number is growing.
- We will have a phased migration of faculty and staff email and calendars by department/area. This migration will begin in January 2012; details to follow.
- We expect to complete the migration by December, 2012.
- Student email will not be migrated; cutover likely after spring break.
- Graduating seniors may stay on FirstClass if they prefer. (Graduates can keep their FirstClass accounts for one month after commencement.)
- A number of tools will replace FirstClass conferences (including Moodle, OrgSync, PeopleAdmin, and MyFurman announcements.) Access to Office 365 and conference tools will be available by single sign-on through the MyFurman portal.
Replacing FirstClass is a large, complicated project. We will augment ITS staff with vendor support to ensure as seamless a move as possible. Moving to Microsoft Office 365 will help provide Furman with a virtual environment that reflects and advances the high quality of our academic program and physical campus.