Student Email Accounts Moving from Office 365 to Google Suite

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Image Courtesy of Google

Victoria Penate
Staff Writer

The UCSB U-Mail Migration Project Team will transition all student email accounts from Office 365 onto Connect Google Suite for Education between the end of this spring quarter and the start of next fall quarter.

UCSB Chief Information Officer (CIO) Matt Hall sent a message to the student body two weeks ago providing preliminary information about the email platform transition. This message included an intended timeline for the project, which will “begin in July and conclude before the start of Fall quarter.” According to Hall, this transition will not require action on the part of students, and it will eliminate a variety of current problems.

Hall told The Bottom Line that his office has coordinated the migration of over 12,000 staff and faculty accounts onto G-Suite for Education since 2016. The expected benefits of the transition, therefore, are founded on long-term observations and reliable predictions.

Because staff and faculty accounts have already migrated onto Google, this transition for student accounts will put both groups on the same email platform. This is predicted to improve communication between students, staff, and faculty through increased shareability of calendars, presentations, and documents.

The transition onto G-Suite for Education is likely to minimize spam messages which is a current problem with UCSB student email accounts. Aubrie Amstutz, the communications analyst for the Office of the CIO, told The Bottom Line in an interview about her own experience using the Google platform rather than Office 365.

“I can state for myself that I get no spam that comes through, and you can teach it and it learns really well,” Amstutz said. “If you mark as spam in Google, I feel like it actually does something.”

In addition to providing a superior spam filter, G-Suite for Education is expected to improve account security due to its capacity for multi-factor authentication, which is defined by the National Information Technology Laboratory as “a security enhancement that allows you to present two pieces of evidence – your credentials – when logging in to an account.” According to Amstutz, this security measure was not a possibility with the original U-Mail setup.

Associate CIO for Student Affairs Joe Sabado told The Bottom Line in an interview he expects the transition to simplify and enhance communication between different departments. “The bottom line of that is removing the complexity of different departments,” Sabado said. “Instead of those folks just administrating email, they can actually do the other things that support the mission of the university.”

James Kantrim, a service delivery manager for the Office of the CIO, explained in an interview that the migration of student accounts to G-Suite for Education is expected to run smoothly for those coordinating the transition as well as for students.

“We’ve done this with 12,000 people across campus and messages aren’t lost,” Kantrim said. “For the most part, it’s a fairly seamless transition, and we expect that to be consistent with the students as well because Google is a pretty familiar tool.”

Kantrim also provided insight regarding the process of migrating many accounts. “Google makes it quite easy for businesses and higher [education] to transition to their product,” Kantrim said. “So they provide us with this tool, called GASMO, that provides that technical ability to extract messages from a source system, whatever system that may be, to Google.”

Students should remain aware of upcoming alerts from the UCSB U-Mail Migration Project Team to ensure the most seamless transition possible on the user end of the system.

“[Students are] going to get another email that lets them know when their account specifically will migrate, because it won’t be everybody on the same exact day,” Amstutz said.