IT change

Mary Walsh is the chief information officer in charge of changing the way KU emails are handled.

The University of Kansas' Information Technology Services will move its entire email server to the cloud, chief information officer Mary Walsh announced at a Student Senate meeting on Oct. 30.

Each email address will transition all of its data into the cloud from its on-premise servers in order to protect student and staff emails in the event that the servers get damaged. The transition may require students to re-add their email accounts to their mobile phones, but it won’t affect students otherwise.

“Email is running on servers which are in this building versus servers that are in the cloud, so everything is physically located email-wise here,” said David Day, associate director of internal communications. “So if something were to happen on this building or to the KU campus, then it could stop our ability to receive or send emails.”

KU IT will conduct a mailbox move, where all the data from each email is transferred to the Office 365 Cloud. The amount of time it takes to transfer data depends on the size of each mailbox, and it can range from hours to days.

Students, staff and faculty will not be aware of the transfer as it’s happening and will not notice much of a difference once it's complete. Users may need to restart Microsoft Outlook or log back into their accounts after the transfer.

“It’s a fairly transparent process to just a generic, common account," said associate director of data center infrastructure David Hageman. "There’s nothing special associated with it."

Walsh introduced this initiative after she served as the vice president for academic and administrative systems at Tulane University during Hurricane Katrina. The hurricane damaged Tulane’s on-premise servers and affected email communication for each student, she said.

“Once email was unavailable, that really put us in a pickle,” Walsh said. “I know we’re not at risk for hurricanes in Kansas, but life is uncertain and moving email to the cloud was one of the things that I focused on.”

KU IT has not set a date for when the switch will happen, but it will not make the transfer during registration periods, finals or the beginning of either semesters. When KU IT begin transitioning data to the cloud, it will notify the campus and offer step-by-step guidance in re-adding email to mobile devices if students need it.