University set to switch to Gmail

The University will begin using Google Mail as its primary e-mail client next fall, exponentially increasing the amount of online storage space.

Memory quotas for students will expand from 20 megabytes to six gigabytes – about 300 times more than the current alotment.

Administrators have said for three years that they were considering switching to a third-party client, but revealed this week they were hesitant about the risks of joining what was then a new service.

Ron Bonig, GW’s vice president and chief information officer, said they began looking seriously into the project this October after several other schools worked out flaws in the system. They are currently finalizing legal agreements, and expect to sign a contract with Google later this week.

“We can still provide a GW-branded e-mail system,” Bonig said in a phone interview. “Google will manage it, and these days there are some advantages to outsourcing things that other people specialize in.”

Features available with Gmail like a calendar and chatting will also be available under the new GW/Google partnership. Student Association President Nicole Capp said she was happy with Google’s increased storage space and additional features.

“It’s not like a watered-down version of Google for higher education, which is important because students would not want to have a watered-down version,” Capp said.

Students can start using the Google client when they move in next fall. The new service will run in tandem with Colonial Mail, the current e-mail client, for several months and will allow students to transfer old information into the new interface.

Faculty and staff will continue to use Colonial Mail, the current e-mail client, because of legal concerns about outsourcing employee communications, Bonig said. Colonial Mail is powered by technology purchased by the University and is designed to accommodate high-traffic networks.

The change also allows the University to expand storage space without investing in more servers. Executive Vice President and Treasurer Lou Katz said it is cost-effective overall.

Students have lobbied the administration for years about changing the e-mail system, and Bonig said SA leaders helped launch the project this fall.

The Hatchet previously reported that the University was considering both Google and Microsoft Live e-mail clients. After an assessment of both clients this fall, Bonig said Google Mail had better features and proved more successful at other universities.

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