Microsoft Office 365 to replace Panthermail

As the 2013-2014 school year closes out, the Informational Technology Services team with the help from those in the Center for Academic Technology Support will be switching the back-end and user interface of Panthermail from Zimbra to Microsoft Office 365.

Students will have to switch to the new email service in May. Brian Murphy, the director of infrastructure technologies in ITS said they had been researching ways for additional functionality and capacity. Students will soon have 50 gigabytes of storage instead of only 500 megabytes, which is only one-half of a gigabyte.

“A number of alternatives, involving both hosted solutions and locally installed solutions were researched and reviewed,” Murphy said in an email. “At the time of the initial review, Microsoft was revamping their hosted offering and expanding their services, so EIU waited for that process to complete.”

With the Zimbra email service licensing agreement ending in summer, the decision was made to pull the plug on the current email service and switch to Office 365.

ITS also chose to switch to keep operating costs lower. Eastern is currently paying for licensing that allows both students and faculty to use Windows operating systems and the Microsoft Office Professional Suite. Students, in turn, have access to the Office 365 service for free.

Students will also have access to 25 GB of storage in OneDrive, a cloud sharing service where documents, photos and videos can be shared across multiple platforms. They will be able to install the Microsoft Office Professional Suite on up to five devices for free as long as they are an active student.

During the migration to the new system, students will have to rework their calendar and briefcase information because it will not be transferred over like all of the emails and address book information.

Students will also have to reconfigure their mobile set-up when the time comes. Other than that, the email will still be accessible through the Eastern Panthermail homepage.

Despite its release at the end of the semester, 16 students have volunteered and have had access to the new email service.

“This group came from a number of different areas, the Office of Student Community Service, as well as students recommended from the ITS student work force and those recommended from the Center for Academic Technologies and Instructional Support Specialists from throughout campus,” Murphy said in an email.

This change will only affect students. Faculty and staff will still use the Zimbra for their mail service.

Jarad Jarmon can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]