Campus email will move to cloud server

by Ross Cristantiello / Beacon Staff • March 17, 2016

The Emerson Information Technology Department expects to move towards cloud-based services, especially for the email accounts of students and faculty.

Emerson.edu email accounts are currently hosted on servers on campus, as opposed to the digital realm, better known as “the cloud.” According to Frankie Frain, the college’s director of networking and telecommunications, it is expected that Emerson will switch to either Microsoft Office 365  or Gmail.

Frain and the IT Department have yet to make a decision, but they anticipate a switch in email hosting within the next year and a half. IT and the tech committee will be involved in the decision-making, as well as a body of assorted faculty members dedicated to assessing and improving various information and technical aspects of Emerson.

Students will also be polled in the future on which program they want. Frain predicts that the majority of them will favor a switch to Gmail, since most of the student body forwards their Emerson emails to those accounts already.

“The strength of Google is its ubiquity,” Frain said. “Everyone knows it.”

Christine Davies, a sophomore marketing communication major, said she liked the idea of switching to Gmail.

“We use Google Docs anyways, so it would make sense,” Davies said.

Microsoft, on the other hand, is a leader in terms of security and anti-virus software. Microsoft has generally targeted older professionals, while Google has focused on younger consumers, according to Frain. The Microsoft Office 365 email hosting service would be very similar to the college’s current service.  The college has used Microsoft Exchange since 2000.

Cloud-based storage and hosting already has a presence at Emerson, as the college recently made file sharing and file storage available through Box, a storage solution similar to iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive. A Box account with 25 gigabytes of space is available to any member of the Emerson community.  

Emerson students can also currently log into a Google Drive account with their college emails, accessing a variety of tools including word processing and slideshow presentations.

“What motivates any business or any college to move to a cloud service is a combination of cost, convenience, and good support,” Frain said.

Not every facet of Emerson’s data will be switching to these servers. The Isilon system, primarily used for video editing by visual media arts and journalism majors, will remain locally hosted on campus due to the large nature of most files used for this purpose.