Email Goes to the Cloud

August 8, 2014
By Janet Scannell

The College is upgrading to a current version of our email software. As was announced earlier this summer we will be “partnering with to upgrade and maintain our Zimbra service,” and I’d like to say more about that.

As with most software applications, our email application needs periodic upgrades and the servers on which it resides need to be replaced roughly every four years.  Both of those events – hardware and software upgrades – were needed this summer which gave us an opportunity to consider whether we wanted to continue hosting email on-campus or whether we wanted to consider an off-campus option.

Some members of ITS were familiar with the Merit network, which is a non-profit company run by twelve Michigan universities.  Merit was founded in 1966 to manage networking connections between public universities and expanded to provide a full set of services, including Zimbra-based email service to over 500,000 users in the state. 

After consultation with several committees this spring, ITS decided to move our email to the Merit-hosted service.  This will allow us to take advantage of Merit’s dedicated staffing and infrastructure and is part of freeing up Rich Graves’s time to focus on his new role (through the Mellon Collaboration grant) as the shared Information Security Officer for St. Olaf and Carleton.   

Given the ubiquity of Gmail, you may wonder why we didn’t make that move.  We could still make that decision at any time, and I am planning on a review of email services in a few years. In response to the College’s strategic plan and the MISO survey I developed a long list of technology initiatives that are of a higher priority for the Carleton community.   

The process for migrating our mail began today and is expected to be completed before August 29th.  If you have any other questions or comments, please let me know.



Janet Scannell
Chief Technology Officer
Carleton College