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Switch to Gmail goes well

Posted on 11.06.2013

The University of Indianapolis’ recent switch from Zimbra to Gmail as its email provider came after repeated issues with the former service, as well as student and faculty issues. The switch appeared to have very few problems on the students end, but many precautions were taken prior to the switch.

According to Associate Vice President of Informational Systems Steve Herriford The university decided to switch from Zimbra last spring due to repeated problems and poor support from the company. According to Herriford, the company has been sold and bought three separate times, which has helped fuel the difficulties with the email client.

The plan to make the switch was put into motion in July and was executed using a “Phased” approach. Basically, 100 students and faculty became “early adopters” of the system tested the Gmail, helping identify problems and necessary settings. These people have since become guides and trainers for students and faculty.

In just three days, approximately 10,000 accounts, with over 23 million items were transferred from Zimbra to Google. During these three days, email was down for less than 30 minutes total. Regardless, there were still a few small issues.

“There was more confusion than actual problems,” Herriford said.

He attributed the batch of problems to students simply not taking the steps they were advised to take prior to the migration. For example, students who did not change their password, as advised, could not access their new accounts. Also, some students were confused, thinking that the transfer would combine their UIndy email with their personal Gmail account. This was false, as the login process is separate, but can be accessed through the same interface.

Across campus, the feedback has been continuously positive, as many students have said that the switch did not bring them many problems.

“The only problem I had, initially, was separating my first Gmail account from my UIndy one. Other than that it’s been a smooth transition,” said junior math education major Sean O’brien.

English Secretary Debby McGary stated that she hadn’t run into many major problems, but that Gmail’s features are “overwhelming.” Prior to the switch, she used Thunderbird with her Zimbra account.

“With Thunderbird it [the interface] was very simple,” McGary said.

She stated that many of the younger faculty members already had Gmail accounts, so the transition was a bit easier for them.

“Eventually it [Gmail] will be great,” McGary said.

Gmail was chosen over other options because of its reputation for reliability, as well as the numerous features it has to offer. A report from AYTM Market Research showed that Google mail, or Gmail, is quickly becoming a favorite of consumers worldwide. The recent survey showed that 74 percent of consumers use Google’s search engine and growing majority of people own Gmail accounts (almost 60%).

Students may notice that some of the features, such as Google+, are not yet available. Herriford said that the University is working to make even more features available over time.

Many students, like freshman psychology major Zach Spain, have enjoyed the switch because they already use google and many of it’s features.

“I think the Gmail interface is more easily manageable compared to the old,” Spain said. “Plus, I’ve already got the Gmail app on my phone.”


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