As of March 30, Temple University has migrated 94,000 email accounts from Google to Microsoft Outlook 365, totaling 77 percent of the roughly 120,000 accounts expected to be migrated, said Mark Haubrich, director of information technology.
Temple’s Information Technology Services is working with Temple’s schools and colleges and allowing them to make the decisions on the account migration of all students, faculty and administrative staff, said Kamran Nizami, the director of technical services.
“Schools and colleges made the determination of whether they wanted to move everyone on one night, or they wanted to carve it out by department,” Nizami added. “We tried to encourage schools and colleges to group specific departments on different dates if they were going to have a multi-week or spread-out sort of migration.”
All schools and colleges have been scheduled for migration, Haubrich said.
On Sept. 9, 2020, Temple University announced it would move all email accounts and calendars to Microsoft Outlook 365 beginning August 2020 because the university can operate more efficiently on one platform, Haubrich said.
This transition is taking place gradually throughout the next year and a half, according to Temple ITS.
An advisory group was assembled in Fall 2019 consisting of representatives from all schools and colleges to determine whether the university should stay with using two separate email platforms, Google and Microsoft Outlook 365, Haubrich said.
The Email and Calendar Advisory Group’s task was to recommend one easy-to-use platform that met the academic, business and technical needs of the university, including whether the platform could be used for sensitive, confidential and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act data, according to the group’s recommendation report.
Before making the recommendation, the Email and Calendar Advisory Group considered user experience, security and accessibility reviews, other university decisions and cost analysis, according to the report.
Temple decided it would be more efficient for the university to migrate to one platform, Outlook 365, Haubrich said. From there, a recommendation was made to and approved by Provost JoAnne Epps and President Richard Englert.
Ammar Ahmed, a fifth-year electrical engineering doctoral student, prefers Google to Outlook because he finds it easier to use.
“The experience with Outlook has been very messy,” Ahmed said. “The phone app and the computer website show differently.”
Temple anticipates that all email accounts will be switched from Google to Outlook 365 by December 2021, according to the announcement.
Outlook 365, as opposed to Google, offers security and features requested by administration departments and the school and colleges at the university, according to Temple ITS.
Microsoft is modified regularly with “leading” security technologies. It would be more costly to provide the same level of features and protection with Google, according to Temple ITS.
Shersten Stender, a senior psychology major, does not have much experience using Outlook. Although Outlook looks more professional, Google was easier for her to navigate and was more convenient, she said.
“My computer is slow as is, so downloading Outlook is only making it more difficult for my computer to run smoothly,” Stender said. “With Google, I could just open a new tab on a web browser that I was already using, but now I have to go through more effort to open a different program.”
Access to Google applications, including Google Docs and Google Drive, will not be affected by the switch. Google Calendar will no longer be accessible. Those that use TU Gmail will have their email, calendar and contacts migrated for them, which will still be accessible on Outlook after the switch, according to the announcement.
Karla Zavala, a junior criminal justice major, wished Temple gave students the option to switch.
“There are no features I like about Outlook,” Zavala said. “I just feel like it’s another application that I just don’t need in my phone.”
Kevin Jordan, a senior marketing major, said his issue is more with the transfer to Outlook rather than the email service itself.
“I don’t understand the motive behind it,” Jordan said. “If there was some huge pressing issue then sure, but if it was for a small reason, then it would be a difficulty with no benefit.”