UBmail will completely transition to Microsoft Exchange Online within the next three-to-four years for both students and faculty, according to J. Brice Bible, vice president and chief information officer for UBIT.
Student email is currently powered by Google Workspace, which includes services like Gmail and Google Drive, while faculty email is powered by Microsoft Exchange (on-premise).
Students will now have access to Microsoft 365, which includes comparable tools to Google’s suite, including OneDrive cloud storage and collaborative versions of Microsoft Office programs.
Bible says the switch to Microsoft programs will improve collaboration between students and faculty, since the former will now be on the same platform as the latter.
“Having a single collaboration platform for everyone at UB will foster greater collaboration and more seamless interaction between UB faculty, staff, and students,” Bible wrote in an email. “Microsoft 365 will provide a rich, robust set of new productivity and data sharing tools useful in education and research.”
Next year’s freshman class will be the first to use Microsoft Exchange Online emails. Current UB students won’t lose access to their Gmail accounts and other associated tools.
“Current UB students will continue using Gmail and have the same experience,” Bible said. “UBIT will open Exchange to all remaining students next fall semester for self-migration. After the last Gmail students graduate, UBIT will migrate any remaining UB students to Exchange, and they will be notified of this change well in advance.”
Current UB students already have access to Microsoft 365 tools. Collaboration between future students using Exchange Online and current students using Gmail — on things like shared documents — is expected to take place using the Microsoft 365 suite.
“All UB students, including students who are using UBmail powered by Google, now have access to Microsoft 365,” Bible said. “Microsoft 365 web-based office tools provide collaborative document features similar to Google Docs. Two students can edit the same document at the same time using the web office tools, for example.”
The switch to Microsoft Exchange Online will not cost the university anything, Bible said. The platform is already included in a SUNY-negotiated contract that UB participates in.
“Exchange Online is included as a bundled item in all Microsoft Educational Enterprise contracts, including the SUNY negotiated multi year contract that UB participates in,” Bible said. “No additional funds were spent to use Exchange Online.”
Brendan Kelly is the assistant news editor and can be reached at email@example.com