University of Calgary

IT seeking participants for Microsoft Suite pilot project

UToday HomeJanuary 18, 2013

By Stephanie Weir

Over the past six months, Information Technologies (IT) has been working diligently to lay the foundation for a scalable IT environment to support the implementation of unified communications and collaborative software for faculty and staff at the University of Calgary. Referred to as the Microsoft Suite Implementation Program, this initiative was established to create a set of foundational tools that will assist in reaching the goals of the university in a planned, cost effective, and forward thinking manner.

IT is asking for participation from 100 volunteers to ensure that the work IT has accomplished to date captures the needs of a wide variety of potential end-users. For further information on participating in the pilot, please visit www.ucalgary.ca/it/mssuiteprogram/pilot.

Benefits of enrolling in the pilot include working on the latest email platform with enhanced support and training. For Outlook Web Access (OWA) 2007 users, OWA 2010 offers improved functionality and a more robust feature set. As well, pilot users will be the first on campus to work with Lync, a secure university supported instant message and collaboration tool.

“The Microsoft Suite Implementation Program will improve user experience by simplifying access to services and reducing the number of passwords users need to remember,” says Vaughn Ravenscroft, chief information officer at the University of Calgary.

“It also puts the foundation in place for numerous other service improvements including a campus app store and improved spam protection and removal,” says Ravenscroft.

Upon program completion, scheduled for the end June, 2013, staff and faculty will be migrated to the Integrated Calendar & Email Service (Exchange/Outlook 2010), providing one unified email and calendar service to learn, use, train, and support. Migration to this service will also support the addition of a secure, university supported instant messaging and collaboration tool, Lync 2013. In addition, IT will implement a new Active Directory infrastructure and account model that supports standardization and authentication best practices, providing a single authentication service for end users.

By the end of June, the core components of Microsoft System Centre 2012 will be deployed, providing a central management platform that will enable IT staff to more efficiently manage and report on the university’s IT environments, including server infrastructure, MS applications, and client devices. Future enhancements and service improvements are currently being planned, with a roadmap coming shortly. The goal is to automate common support issues where possible.

Soliciting the experience and expertise of third-party consultants, IT contracted a team from Compugen to assist with the architecture, design, and pilot phase of the program. Compugen is highly regarded for their innovative technology solutions and services to help customers leverage their investments in technology infrastructure, along with their considerable experience implementing Microsoft solutions.

Working together with Compugen colleagues, IT has progressed through the architecture and design phase of the program, and is ready to launch the pilot project within the coming weeks. For more information about the MS Suite Implementation Program, visit www.ucalgary.ca/it/mssuiteprogram or email msprogram@ucalgary.ca