K-State email system change underway, move to be completed by Spring


Last week 14,400 students were transferred to K-State’s new email system, Office 365. Office 365 has replaced the university’s previous email system, Zimbra. In past years students have faced several problems with Zimbra, such as it being unavailable to access for several hours or even days.

In response to students’ complaints, a committee was formed last semester to decide what new email system should be used. According to Ken Stafford, chief information officer and vice provost for information technology services, Office 365 was picked because of their world standard in email services and came as no cost to the university. However, not all students have the new email system yet.

“We have approximately 60,000 email accounts,” Stafford said. “And they have to be moved. As you can imagine, if we moved 60,000 accounts at once, the entire campus would be disrupted.”

Instead, the university is fazing students in three phases, two of which have already happened. On Aug. 22 students who were enrolled by Aug. 7 had their emails migrated to Office 365. This was primarily incoming students.

On Aug. 23, students who were not migrated the previous day were migrated, primarily those who forward their emails to other accounts, like Gmail, and those not enrolled by Aug. 7. The last phase will take place sometime later in the fall semester for faculty, staff and student employees. Stafford hopes all accounts will be moved by the end of the semester.

Melissa Beyer, senior in early childhood education, said she has not yet been migrated to the new system.

“I hope it’s a lot easier to use,” Beyer said. “But I’ll have to be the judge of that when I get it.”

Some features of Office 365 include new calendars, Microsoft Lync and SharePoint. However, in order to migrate over to Office 365, some students may need to empty their mailboxes on Zimbra or get rid of email attachments with files bigger than 25 megabytes. Students must also empty out their Zimbra briefcases, as these files will not be transferred over.

“Along with these features, we’ll get other wonderful products that will enhance our ability to communicate and collaborate electronically,” Stafford said.

As the migration continues, complaints and comments are being taken into account for the next phase and for improving Office 365.

“So far I have received very positive responses,” Stafford said. “Of course, not everyone has been positive but I’ve received very few complaints, about five.”

Office 365 will also be available on a range of mobile devices. Previously, students had to log onto the Internet to use Zimbra. With the new system, students can download an app that contains mail. Students are strongly encouraged to use Microsoft Outlook for a full Office 365 experience, but not all students are thrilled that Office 365 is Microsoft based.

“I liked how the other one looked,” said Jenna Shelton, sophomore in open option. “I don’t like how this is connected to Microsoft Outlook and I think I would probably prefer Zimbra to this.”

In addition to new features, Office 365 has a different design than previously seen with Zimbra.

“Zimbra was actually an attempt to mimic Microsoft Exchange and Outlook,” Stafford said. “Students will not see many changes in the basic email function. However, the added benefits of the calendar, link, SharePoint, SkyDrive and others will be beneficial to campus.”

If students have problems, Office 365 will have a booth in the Union from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until Sept. 2.